November 21, 1989
Letter to Archbishop Rivera y Damas:
Let me take the occasion of Archbishop Roger Mahony's visit to greet you once again in the Lord and to send you, in the name of the bishops and faithful of the United States, our expression of deepest sympathy, support and solidarity in this most difficult time. As Chairman of our International Policy Committee, Archbishop Mahony brings with him our admiration and gratitude for your courageous witness for the faith and for its authentic social teaching.
In these times of trial, in the midst of so much suffering and loss, in the face of unjustified attacks, we stand with the bishops of El Salvador in your defense of human life, human dignity and human rights, in your call for dialogue and negotiation in place of violence and war. We stand with you, your auxiliary bishop and the other Salvadoran bishops in your work, for justice, your pursuit of peace and your defense of the poor and vulnerable. Those who attack you and your brother bishops, attack the entire Church.
I am sure you are aware that the reports of threats against your person and against your auxiliary, Bishop Gregorio Rosa Chavez, as well as against others in the Church have caused profound concern here in this country. We have been dismayed at the almost daily reports of new attacks against the church workers and violation of church property, of false accusations and arbitrary expulsions of a number of people working with the Salvadoran churches, and the highly inappropriate public statements of certain members of the government of El Salvador concerning the role and teachings of the Church.
I wish to assure you that these actions, whether by unknown persons or by officials of the government, are wholly unacceptable and are being taken with utmost seriousness by the Church in the United States. We have communicated your concern to our own government. We continue to call on the civil authorities of El Salvador, and every other faction in this terrible conflict to act decisively and effectively to protect the Church, her bishops, ministers and workers of every faith, and other innocent civilians. Religious leaders must be protected from harassment, intimidation and violence. We will continue to press our concerns until they are heard and effectively acted upon .
In standing against violence and injustice on every side, in standing for human rights and reconciliation for all, you, Bishop Rosa Chavez and the entire Church of El Salvador are carrying out the mission of the Church and the Gospel of Jesus.
Let me thank you for your letter of November 17 to the bishops of the United States in which you call upon our prayers and Christian solidarity. In the name of my brother bishops and of the whole Church in this country, I express our gratitude for the trust that you place in us, our admiration for the witness of faith, courage and sacrificial love that the Church in El Salvador continue to offer the world, and our assurances that you, and all the People of God in El Salvador, have our most fervent prayers, our deepest sympathy, our admiration, and our Christian solidarity.