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Roman Catholics & Central America

SEARCHING FOR PEACE

By John R. Quinn | December 1983
John R. Quinn is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of San Francisco. The above constitutes an abridged version of his October pastoral letter to his Archdiocese.

The suffering of the peoples of Central Ameri­ca grows daily more bitter and intense. The politi­cal and social unrest in the area has markedly in­creased in recent months, so that the violence on all sides threatens to erupt into a long and vastly more destructive war which could engulf the entire region. The quest for peace in this highly volatile situation has taken on a new urgency which the Church has a particular responsibility to address.

In July our government dramatically expand­ed the United States military presence in the var­ious national conflicts of Central America. In addi­tion to our 55 advisors and increasing military aid to the regime in El Salvador, U.S. naval maneuvers off the Pacific and Caribbean coasts of Nicaragua involve, as of this writing, 19 ships, 140 warplanes on two aircraft carriers, and 16,500 officers and men. Up to 5,000 combat troops will also be in Honduras for at least six months to engage in train­ing exercises with Honduran forces. Many respon­sible persons in our own country express the fear that we are committing ourselves to a policy which will inevitably involve the direct intervention of U.S. fighting forces.

It is extremely difficult for the ordinary per­son to evaluate the many conflicting facts and is­sues reported in the public discussion of these rap­idly unfolding events. It is consequently not always easy for Roman Catholics to bring to them an in­formed judgment based on the teachings of the Church. However, the National Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a clear and forceful po­sition on the Central American situation.

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