Church Welcomes El Salvador Apology for Wartime Crimes

Nuncio, Archbishop Urge Spirit of Reconciliation

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SAN SALVADOR, El Salvador, JAN. 18, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Representatives of the Vatican and the local Church welcomed an apology on behalf of the El Salvador government made Saturday by the country’s president.

President Mauricio Funes offered a surprising apology on behalf of the government for crimes committed during the nation’s long civil war.

Though fighting ended in 1992, there is still a need for reconciliation among Salvadorans. The 12-year civil war took some 75,000 lives.

Funes acknowledged that military, governmental and semi-official forces committed «grave violations of human rights and abuse of power» during the war, and asked for forgiveness from the victims.

Archbishop Luigi Pezzuto, apostolic nuncio in El Salvador, characterized the apology as a «very significant step.»

«Above all as regards reconciliation, the re-unification of the Salvadoran people, because the war has ended — the present violence is not related to the war, there are other reasons [for it],» he said.
 
The Vatican representative pointed out in a press conference with Archbishop José Luis Escobar Alas of San Salvador, that the country is now pinpointing «reconciliation,» 18 years after the truce.
 
«Peace is not only the silencing of arms; thank God this silence has happened and has worked. The reconstruction of the country in less than 18 years has also truly been a miracle. However, lacking of course is that dimension of reconciliation of spirits,» said the nuncio.

Archbishop Pezzuto urged individuals to follow the state’s lead: «All those who feel they have been involved and have yet to ask for forgiveness should also do so, to truly bring about that reconciliation of the Salvadoran people.»

Archbishop Escobar echoed those sentiments: «We believe this is a good example, a good step that calls for the reconciliation of the whole society. I hope we will be able to reach a new national agreement that will lay the true foundations of a social peace, and that is possible.»

He said there needs to be efforts to end «delinquency, poverty, unemployment.» But the «sincere» request for forgiveness by Funes, the archbishop asserted, is an «important» pillar «to attain that true reconciliation.»

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