Letter from Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson

My translation below. Click image for larger pdf version, also available on today's Heraldo.

Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace
San Calisto, March 15, 2016

Dearest family members, friends, and all brothers and sisters of Berta Cáceres Flores

I write to express to each one of you my deepest condolences for the death of Berta Cáceres, leader of the Council of Indigenous Peoples of Honduras, and at the same time underscore the importance to those who collaborate in the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. We accompany the People and Church of Honduras in this moment of sorrow, and we join you as well in praying for justice, reconciliation and peace.

I personally had the pleasure of meeting Berta during the World Meeting of Popular Movements celebrated in Rome in the year 2014. On that occasion, I became acquainted firsthand with her extraordinary work in defense of "our sister, mother earth" (Saint Francis of Asís) and in reaffirming the rights of native peoples. Her testimony, given in the presence of of His Holiness Pope Francis in the Old Hall of the Holy Synod, moved us deeply. The news of her assassination fills me with grief and feels like an attack against all of us who fight for a more just world, with land, housing and work for everyone, a healthy environment and peaceful coexistence among peoples.

With regard to the tragic loss of Berta, we have received numerous letters from different movements and social organizations that participated in the Meetings and together with them all I want to express my wish that an independent and impartial investigation be carried out in the matter with the aim of bringing to light the truth about this horrendous crime as quickly as possible, protecting the physical integrity of the witnesses, family members, and all of the brothers and sisters of the victims.

To fulfill the vow that a situation like this must not happen again, I pray to God that He protect all those who defend Mother Earth and the sacred rights of Native Peoples, in accordance with the teachings of Pope Francis, and I am with you and pray that the Lord will comfort you in this moment of pain. And as our Holy Father has said, "Let the cry of the excluded be heard throughout Latin America and in the whole world!"

Together in Christ,

Cardinal Peter K.A. Turkson