During the 15th anniversary of the rescue of 71 hostages from the Japanese ambassador's residence in Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani issued a new call for an end to violence in Peru.
“In our prayers we will remember all our brothers and sisters, alive and deceased, who on this day took part in this operation that moved the entire world to rescue the hostages and the Japanese embassy,” said Cardinal Cipriani, who at the time represented the Vatican in the negotiations for peaceful resolution.
“Let us pray that there never be any more violence in our country, that we may be united in this.”
On December 17, 1996, members of the Tuparac Amaru terrorist movement seized control of the Japanese ambassador’s residence, taking some 72 guests hostage. They refused to release them unless the government set free 400 imprisoned members of the movement.
Four months later, on April 22, 1997, 142 commandos of the Peruvian military stormed the residence by force and rescued 71 of the hostages. One hostage, two commandos and all fourteen terrorists died in the operation.
“Violence always begins with a lie; later, that interior lie is expressed in words, offending others; and then it translates into physical violence, death, explosions, abuse,” the cardinal said. As the lie grows, as “ideology of violence” eventually emerges, leading people to justify killing each other.
Cardinal Cipriani encouraged members of the faith to counteract this mentality by demonstrating their conversion of heart through good works.
“If you are a father, show it in your patience, in your joy, in your love for your wife; if you are a mother, in your love for your husband,” he said. “If you are a young person, show it in your obedience, in your studies and in your behavior.”
“In order to be holy, you need humility, you need to ask for help and strive each day to act better. Let us be living witnesses of Christ, not so much in word but in deeds of faith and love. That is the great challenge of being witnesses of Christ.”