by Christopher Rails THE LEADERS of more than 65 Catholic organisations in the USA have condemned any US military intervention in Nicaragua as "unjustifiable, illegal and immoral". And the Honduran bishops have warned that war in Central America could involve Honduras.
"We call upon our government to cease any support of armed attacks upon the government and the people of Nicaragua," said a statement signed by the heads of the church groups.
The statement was released on July 27, the day after President Reagan said the U.S. military build-up in Central America is part of normal military manoeuvres and not aimed at provoking a war. It also came after Pentagon officials said that the Central American manoeuvres could last six months and would include the sending of 3,000 to 4,000 US troops to Honduras and the sending of major US war vessels including an aircraft carrier and a battleship off the Nicaraguan coast.
"In the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ and in the name of his Gospel of peace, we call for an immediate halt to any form of US intervention in Nicaragua. We condemn any intervention in the Nicaraguan struggle for selfdetermination as unjustifiable, illegal and immoral," said the three-paragraph statement.
"We call upon the people of the United States to resist thoughts, words and actions that can lead to war and we promise to call on the members of our organisations, as well as on those with whom we live and work, to join us in our attempt to seek a constructive reconcilliation with the Nicaraguan people," it added.
On July 28 President Reagan defended his Central American policies during a nationally televised press conference.
He said US policy consisted of providing military aid as a security shield agaist Marxist revolutionary movements in Central America while also encouraging democracy, human freedom and economic development.
The Honduran bishops have taken the apparently unprecedented step of speaking out about the threat of war in Central America.
Frontier tensions and rumours of war have been added to the problems of poverty which characterise underdeveloped countries, say the bishops. "In our constant communication with the people, we have seen an increase of fear and insecurity in the face of the risks, which have been given so much publicity, that an internationalization of the conflicts which are shaking Central America could involve Honduras in the spiral of violence.
Our people know that a war between Central American countries would be a fratricidal war. It could be a war in which, though the weapons might come from elsewhere, we would supply the dead, and in much greater number than ever before, given the increased perfecting of the weapons currently in use."