A SALVADOREAN bishop has been accused of supporting the country's military Government and has been challenged to resign from his position in the army or give up his diocese. The accusations are in the form of a letter from 16 Vincentian priests working in the Republic' .of 'Panama, and the bishop in -question, Mgr Jose Eduardo Alvarez, is himself a Vincentian Father and Bishop of St Michael's, El Salvador.
The Vincentian priests, some of whom are American, say the happenings in El Salvador, "have moved us deeply and lead us toward a greater solidarity with the Salvadorean Church in her passage from death to life."
the signatories say they "are deeply scandalised by your position as a military bishop and your rank as Colonel in the Salvadorean Army which is a sign of your support of this repressive government." The priests also hit at the bishop's lack of support for Bishop Romero and, at times, "your contrary position, when he denounced the injustices committed against the poor of Salvador."
Also "your absence at the funeral of Bishop Romero, which was interpreted by many foreign visitors as a lack of solidarity with your brother priest and Bishop, and the people that he defended."
The priests go on to say that they cannot remain silent in the light of "your 'anti-Christian' activities."
They recommend Bishop Alvarez to resign immediately his rank as a Colonel in the Salvadorean army, examine his conscience in–the-light -of the second Vatican Council and the writings of Archbishop Romero, and to "ask pardon of the Salvadorean people for your failings as a fellow Christian and as their pastor."
Bishop Alvarez' reply is noncommital, and contains such remarks as "I received your letter with patience, in silence and even with joy and ardour." But he fails to explain these remarks, and makes no promises to change his attitude.
At this juncture, his Vincentian confreres deckled to publish both their original letter and the Bishop's reply, using as their justification Christ's exhortation in Matthew, Chapter 18, that if a member of the community refuses to listen to those who draw attention to his wrongdoing, the matter should be reported to the whole community.
The two letters were released in London by Vincentian Fathers attending 'a congress of their order.