On the tragic occasion of the deaths of Sister Maureen Courtney and Sister Teresa Rosales, the bishops of the United States offer heartfelt prayers and condolences to their families, the Sisters of St. Agnes, and all those they served in Nicaragua. We also pray for a speedy and full recovery to those injured in this barbarous attack--Bishop Pablo Schmitz and Sister Francisca Colomer. We offer our solidarity and support to Bishop Schlaefer of Bluefields and the entire Church in Nicaragua at this time of loss and suffering.
Once more, we are starkly reminded of the vicious cycle of violence and brutality that haunt Central America. Once more, we mourn the deaths of committed religious whose only crime was to preach the Gospel, serve the poor and live out their religious commitments with courage and fidelity. Once more, we protest with all our strength the murder of religious workers. We ask all those in authority in the Nicaraguan government and in the United States government to use every possible resource to find out who so brutally killed our sisters and wounded Bishop Schmitz and Sister Francisca and bring those who committed this crime to justice.
"We also renew our appeals to every party and faction in the conflicts in Nicaragua and all of Central America to offer full respect for human life and human rights and to pursue the path of dialogue, negotiations and non-violence so long advocated by the Church and now outlined by the Central American peace process. We call on our own government to use every available means to help find those who murdered our sisters, to insist they be brought to justice and to support strongly, actively and fully the peace process developed by the Central American Presidents.
"The events of the last several weeks have reminded us with new urgency of the enormous courage and commitment of those who preach the Gospel and serve the People of God in the midst of conflict and violence. We express our gratitude for the remarkable witness of those who have given their lives in the service of the Lord and the continuing example of bishops, priests, religious and people of the Church in Central America who work for peace in the midst of war, stand for justice in the face of assaults on human dignity and human rights, proclaim hope in the midst of fear and offer love in the face of hatred.
We pray their courageous and loving witness will finally bring an end to the violence that haunts so much of Central America.