April 10, 1981
The Bishops of the United States have once more shown their solidarity with the people of El Salvador in a statement of support that has been issued by the Administrative Board of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops. It is a strong prophetic statement that I most heartily endorse and approve.
It repeats a most important point. This is the repeated appeal of the Bishops of the United States that military aid to the armed forces of El Salvador must cease. This was the appeal of Archbishop Romero, this is my appeal, this is the appeal voiced repeatedly by the United States bishops.
It comments also about the violence that has taken so many lives in my country. It notes that each individual life is sacred and yet points out the particular vulnerability of the poor. The statement uses this point to underscore the deaths in December of the four North American missionaries who died because they both shared and symbolized this vulnerability of the poor.
I join with the Bishops of the United States in a strong protest against those who would impugn the character and the service of these valiant women. I too demand a prompt and thorough report on the circumstances of their cruel deaths. Their ministry and their murders show the basic needs of the people of El Salvador a quest for justice and human rights.
I have been greatly impressed with the testimony that was presented by the Bishops of the United States before Congress. As the bishops themselves note, this testimony was sensitive to the complex and ever changing conditions of my country. It was an attempt to place fairly before this nation a contribution to the public debate that should shape the foreign policy of this country. It is of great moral and political importance. They, as I, opposed foreign intervention in my country from any source. I, as they are, am opposed to Cuban or Soviet intervention in the region of Central America. With them I am opposed to military aid, to any faction, from any source. The only solution to the problems of my country will be a political one, not a military one. Dialogue, not violence, is the way to peace. Ways must be found to bring about those necessary changes in the structures of my country that will achieve justice and overcome systems of violence. The Church has a role to play in this. All the people of the Church, Bishops, priests, religious and laity, must give living witness to the message of Christ which calls us all to justice and peace. The salvation and healing of the Savior for whom my country is named must be available to all.