Roman Catholics & Central America
SEARCHING FOR PEACE
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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