Letter to the Pope for Peace in Central America
Three hundred priests and religious who work in Nicaragua wrote to Pope John Paul II asking him to seek to avoid a generalized war in Central America, after Ronald Reagan’s becoming president in the United States.
Dear Holy Father,
We, the clergy and religious men and women of the Nicaraguan Church, encouraged by your universal petition for peace, wish to express the following:
We live under the imminent threat of a war which Central America does not want; one that would bring pain, destruction and death to our people, who have already suffered greatly. Along with our people, we have suffered the devastation of the 1972 earthquake, many years of repression and injustice, and finally, the war of liberation which cost Nicaragua 50,000 lives and resulted in tremendous material destruction and in the destruction of family relationships.
Meanwhile, our brothers and sisters in Guatemala and El Salvador continue bleeding and suffering destruction, insecurity, the instability of life in the refugee camps, and, all too often, death.
We long for peace in order to rebuild our lives and reconstruct our country materially and spiritually. We need the solidarity of other peoples. Nevertheless, our people are suffering the threat of a war so extensive that it could bring total annihilation.
No one benefits from war. It injures and destroys everyone. War would destructively radicalize the process that our people are undergoing. They desperately need peace to correct the errors and affirm the values which will allow them to create a new society of persons capable of listening to, accepting, and building the Kingdom of God in this land which until now has been a land of suffering and pain.
Faced with this grave danger, we feel ourselves called by the Spirit of the Prince of Peace, Our Lord Jesus Christ, to speak out for peace, to preach peace, and to build peace in our region and among our people thereby creating the conditions that can make this still possible.
The celebration of the Purisima, the greatest popular devotion and feast of Mary in all of Nicaragua, and the celebration of the birth of Our Savior Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, give us the opportunity to make the firm Christian faith of our people a force that joins with other forces in order to bring about peace coming from God, Father of all.
These are the reasons that we decided, particularly during the month of December, to dedicate ourselves to pray for peace, to speak about peace through all of the means available to us, and to promote peace in the conscience of our people.
The pain of our people tears at the heart of him who so often felt compassion for his suffering people – “Misereor super turbam” – and acted to give them consolation and hope.
We know that this painful cry of our people also touches the heart of our Pastor, Vicar of this compassionate Christ. For this, we venture to implore Your Holiness to declare January 1982 as a Month of Universal Prayer for Peace in Central America, to awaken the consciences and move the will of individuals and peoples to bring about peace in Central America. In this way we will be building world peace.
With the firm hope of being blessed by and listened to by Your Holiness, we again place in your hands our missionary dedication to announce and to build the Kingdom of God among the poor and suffering people of the new Nicaragua.
Yours in Our Lord Jesus Christ,
(This letter was signed by 300 Religious in Nicaragua).