Robert Edward White, ambassador to El Salvador 1980-81 and known best for refusing to cover up the murders of four churchwomen by the Salvadoran military, was remembered as "a man of courage" during a Mass of Christian burial Friday at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Alexandria, Va.
White, whose 25-year career in the Foreign Service included time as ambassador to Paraguay from 1977-1980, died of cancer Jan. 13 at age 88 (see NCR obituary). He was fired from his post in El Salvador by Alexander Haig Jr., secretary of state for President Ronald Reagan, when he refused to be part of a cover-up of the nuns' murders. White went on to be president of the Center for International Policy.
Jesuit Fr. Charles Currie, celebrant, said White's life, and particularly his time in El Salvador, "calls us to an awareness of what is really important in life and death -- love and the pursuit of justice."
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He said White faced down "death threats, a brutal military and a hostile administration as he relentlessly pursued the truth."