December 5, 1980
The murder of the four U.S. Missionaries in El Salvador brings home to American Catholics and all American citizens the daily experience of violence which is the lot of the poor in El Salvador.
The tragic martyrdom of these four women should be seen in light of the work they were doing as part of the Church in El Salvador. The Church there has made a fundamental decision to accompany and support the poor in their struggle for human dignity, human rights and full participation in the life of their country.
The United States is not a neutral or detached party in the crisis of El Salvador. The policies of the U.S. government, in word and deed, have been and will continue to be the most important external force affecting developments in El Salvador. U.S. policy, however well intentioned, has not mitigated the violence and daily violation of human rights which the poor, the majority of the population, suffer each day.
The compelling need of the moment is to separate the U.S. government in a clear and visible manner from the repression of the security forces and other military groups which seem to operate with impunity throughout the country.
The suspension of all U.S. economic and military assistance to the government of El Salvador until an investigation of these murders takes place is a positive step which I endorse. The U.S. Catholic Conference has consistently advocated a prohibition of all forms of military assistance to the present government of El Salvador and we urge this measure again in this statement. In addition the protection of human rights should be reaffirmed as a central element of U.S. policy in El Salvador and Central America.