March 18, 1997
Most Reverend Sergio Obeso Rivera
Archbishop of Jalapa
President, Conference of the Mexican Episcopate
Apartado Postal 118-055
C.P. 07020 Mexico, D.F.
FAX: (525) 577-5489
Dear Archbishop Obeso,
At this time, as we prepare to celebrate the most sacred mysteries of our Faith, I send greetings to you and all the members of the Conferencia del Episcopado Mexicano. This Lenten period has been for you, and especially for your brother bishops of the Diocese of San Cristóbal de Las Casas, a time of further trial and suffering.
The March 8 illegal arrest and detention of the Jesuit Fathers Jerónimo Hernández López and Gonzalo Rosas Morales, together with their two campesino companions, is but the latest in a series of events, especially in the State of Chiapas, which Bishop Raúl Vera López has characterized as nothing less than an act of religious persecution against the work of these priests in support of indigenous people and campesinos.
Thanks to the timely statement of the Consejo Permanente of your Conference, we were able to learn the truth of this violence directed against the pastoral work of the Diocese of San Cristóbal and to join in solidarity with you in protesting the arbitrary behavior of the officials of the State Government. We are pleased that the four men have been released and we join again with you in urging a full investigation of the incident.
Enclosed are copies of letters sent by our Conference to the Mexican Ambassador to the United States and to the U.S. Secretary of State. If we can be of any assistance to you in these matters, please do not hesitate to let us know. With assurances of our prayers and best wishes, I remain
Fraternally yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Anthony M. Pilla
Bishop of Cleveland