(illATI.MALAN bishops have accused the government of allowing political violence to go unchecked and say that assassins are being allowed to kill with impunity.
They claim that "armed hands of the ultra-right and the extreme left wage an undeclared war, dragging along our defenceless people who are peace-loving by nature;' Human rights organisations estimate that more than 20.0(X) have been killed in political violence since 1966 and that the figure so tar this year is 1250.
Their statement deplored the assassination last month of the Belgian missionary Fr Walter Voordeckers and the kidnapping of another missionary, Fr Conrad() de la Cruz, and his catechist. Herlindo Cifuentes. Neither man has been heard of since and both are believed to have been killed.
The bishops' statement said: "Our nation is undergoing hitter days of anguish and desperation without precedent in its history. as hands of mercenary assassins roam the land. Violence takes a raising toll of victims who have been kidnapped, tortured and killed. No one escapes, rich or poor. men in power or humble peasants.
"fhe church suffers this sorrowful passion with the people, as many catechists and other la■ helpers have'been killed or have fled their homes to save their lives. Many priests and religious arc also under threat of death.
"We feel especially saddened by the fact that all these killings are committed with impunity."
The bishops also appealed to those responsible for the violence to stop: "Neither fear of communism nor intense desire to change unjust slim:tures can he ti pretext or justification to assassinate, "No one is going to solve the problems of the nation by
destroying citizens' organisations,
by intimidating people in the news media, by attempting to
silence the messengers of the ;ospel. It is likewise illicit to take `the Ilfe of those who own the land."