Guerrilla defector seems to bolster the Guatemalan government’s claims.

The following report from correspondent Stephen R. Sywulka in Guatemala generally coincides with the government version of events in the case. Roman Catholic sources take vigorous exception to his conclusions, insisting that Pellecer’s kidnapping could not have been prearranged since he was bleeding and unconscious when abducted, that the government denied all knowledge of his whereabouts over the months that followed, that he showed signs of brainwashing in his few stage-managed appearances, and that he is still a prisoner.

It hit like a bomb blast, sending shock waves rolling through the social and ecclesiastical structure of Guatemala. At a surprise news conference called by the government amid strict security measures, Jesuit priest Luis Eduardo Pellecer Faena admitted he had served actively with the Guerrilla Army of the Poor (EGP), and asked forgiveness from the people of Guatemala.

Pellecer, 35, spoke with reporters, government officials, and diplomats for over two hours, recounting the steps that first led him to join the EGP, and then to his disillusionment and escape through a simulated kidnapping. “I ask your forgiveness, a thousand times forgiveness,” he said.

“I contributed to subversive actions which have sown violence in this country.”

It came as no surprise that members of the Catholic clergy have sympathized with the guerrillas. Pellecer charged that the Jesuits as a whole, members of several other orders, some prestigious schools, and the Catholic relief agency, Caritas, were implicated with the subversives. The priest singled out the theology of liberation as a major factor, saying it presented a new Jesus, a revolutionary rebel who opposed ...

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