During the presentation of a new book on his experiences during the 1997 hostage crisis at the Japanese embassy in Lima, Cardinal Juan Cipriani recalled the days as “very difficult.”
The cardinal noted that “a lot of faith, a lot of prayers,” went into the ordeal in which he acted on behalf of the Vatican in seeking a peaceful solution.
In December of 1996, a group of terrorists stormed the Japanese embassy in Lima and held dozens hostage. The following April, Peruvian officials launched a military operation to free those kidnapped and regain control of the embassy.
All fourteen terrorists were killed, as well as two commandos and one hostage.
Cardinal Cipriani said his book on the crisis had been half-written for over fifteen years. He finished it after reviewing “a series of archived documents, because I found it very difficult to recall the events.”
“I felt a deep sorrow that was hard to explain and that was made worse by the totally biased interpretation of the events by some in the government and the media.”
He recalled in his book that during the long ordeal, the hostages “were especially appreciative of their families, their children and their spouses. There was the sense that: how many things could I do better now that I am taking stock of my life.”
The cardinal concluded his remarks by encouraging Peruvians to remember the words of Blessed John Paul II that “violence is never a path towards anything good.”