December 22, 2002
The Honorable Donald H. Rumsfeld
Department of Defense
Washington, D.C. 20301
Dear Mr. Secretary,
On August 3, 2001, my predecessor as Chairman of the Committee on International Policy of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, Cardinal Bernard Law, wrote to you concerning the then-recently concluded second revision of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between the United States and the Republic of Korea. The Catholic Bishops" Conference of Korea, as many others in that society, had concluded that the revised SOFA still left many concerns unanswered.
On August 10, 2001, Mr. Frank R. Stone, Director of Foreign Military Rights Affairs, responded that the present SOFA "serves as the starting point for cooperation, not the end," holding out the possibility of further improvements over the course of day-to-day operations. Mr. Stone further indicated that, contrary to the assertion of the documentation provided by the Bishops" Conference, the United States does not agree that the SOFA with Korea provides greater protection for U.S. forces than do similar agreements with other countries.
Unfortunately, it continues to be the view of the Catholic Bishops" Conference of Korea that the present Status of Forces Agreement is in urgent need of further revision, the urgency deriving from the growing public expression of dissatisfaction with U.S. policy in that country. Our relations with such an important ally, especially in these times of heightened danger to world peace and security, need very careful attention.
Enclosed are documents provided by the bishops of Korea which I respectfully commend to the attention of the Department.
With thanks for your consideration, and wishing you all the blessings of the Season, I am
Most Reverend John H. Ricard, SSJ
Bishop of Pensacola-Tallahassee
Chairman, Committee on International Policy
United States Conference of Catholic Bishops