BY ISN STAFF | July 17, 2018

In the wake of ongoing unrest and loss of innocent life, the Catholic bishops of Nicaragua have called on their fellow citizens to join in a day of fasting and atonement on July 20. The request, issued in a statement by the Nicaraguan Conference of Catholic Bishops on July 14, came as the death toll of innocent civilians killed during nonviolent demonstrations and related events rose above 350 people since mid-April.

The Bishop’s statement was published on the same day that a man was killed inside a Catholic church by pro-government vigilantes. Students, priests, and journalists were hiding from the pro-government hid inside the church while a pro-government mob fired upon the building over the course of July 13 and 14. Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes played an integral role in negotiations with those encamped in the church and the pro-government.

Unrest directed toward President Daniel Ortega and his administration began in April after a failed reform attempt of the country’s social security system and have escalated since. The Catholic Church has played a key role in supporting nonviolent demonstrators since the initial uprising. On May 30, Universidad Centroamericana (UCA) de Nicaragua, the Jesuit university in the capital city of Managua, became a refuge for defenseless protestors when thousands of people sought safety within the gates of the university. Over the course of the unrest, Catholic bishops have attempted to facilitate dialogue among all parties with the hope that the Ortega government would take steps toward peace and democratic reforms, including that President Ortega must resign and new national elections must be called, steps to which Ortega and his wife have not agreed. 

The full statement translated into English can be found below.

Pastoral Message Issued by the Conference of Catholic Bishops on July 14, 2018

“The Truth shall set you free” (John 8:31)
“You cannot serve two masters” (Cf. Matthew 6:24)
  1. We the bishops in good faith accepted the role of mediators and witnesses of the National Dialogue putting as guarantors the people of Nicaragua and the international community that is in solidarity with our suffering. Our mission is not limited to being mediators and witnesses in the sessions of the Dialogue, rather given the prophetic dimension of our ministry we have seen the urgency of going to the places of conflict to defend the lives of the defenseless, to bring comfort to the victims and mediate with the goal of a peaceful solution to the situation.  We declare that to carry out this act of charity the Nicaraguan Church will continue to use all of the means it is able to. Our mission as pastors and prophets does not contradict our role as mediators and witnesses given that what we seek is peace and justice as Nicaraguans.
  2. In recent days, the repression and violence carried out by the pro-government paramilitaries against the people who protest civically has gotten worse. We deeply regret so much death, pain and suffering of our people. People hurt, people unjustly charged with crimes, people threatened, people intimidated and outrageous acts committed against people who were at locations of peaceful protests. We also denounce the arbitrary kidnappings and detention to which the civil population is subjected. Today, like never before, Human Rights are being violated in Nicaragua. Also, members of the National Dialogue, defenders of Human Rights and independent Media have been the objects of campaigns of defamation by the government.
  3. It is our duty to inform the Nation that during these months we have been witnesses of a lack of political will of the government to dialogue in a sincere way and look for real processes that will lead us to a true democracy, showing themselves repeatedly unwilling to discuss the key points of the agenda of democratization and not fulfilling the recommendation of the Interamerican Human Rights Commission, especially the urgent dismantling of the armed pro-government forces. The government representatives have twisted the principal objective for which the National Dialogue was established.
  4. We condemn legally and morally the attacks perpetrated by the National Police, pro-government paramilitary groups and mobs who have been stirred up to attack and sow terror among the people who are engaged in civic protest. Similarly, we condemn all acts of sacrilegious profanation against the Church, be it against consecrated people [the religious and priests] or church buildings. In the same way,  we condemn the aggression against national and international journalists, defenders of Human Rights, and members of civil society.
  5. Remember that it is the duty of the government to protect and respect the lives of Nicaraguans. Including those who engage in civic protest:

All people have the right to: 1. Their private life and that of their family. 2. The inviolability of their home, their correspondence and their communication of all types. 3. Respect for their honor and reputation. 4. Know all information that the state authorities have recorded about them, as well as  the right to know why and to what purpose they have such information. (Political Constitution of Nicaragua, Article 26)

  • Saint Paul reminds us that “our fight is not against flesh and blood, but rather against the Principalities, against the Powers, against the Rulers of the world of darkness, against the Spirits of Wickedness in high places.” (Eph. 6:12) Because of this, we urge the Catholic faithful and men and women of good will to unite with us in:
  • A day of fasting (Friday, July 20) as act of atonement for the profanation carried out in these recent months against God. On this day we will pray the prayer of exorcism to  St. Michael Archangel.

This day will be a call to all Nicaraguans, especially to the police, military and other public employees and to those who conscience is calling them to not continue to support directly or indirectly all of these situations from the government or the party of the government, so that they reflect in a serious way on the grave and urgent historical situation that we are living, make the decisions to which their conscience calls them and commit to defend life, truth and justice. We remind you that at the level of their conscience no one is obliged to carry out an order that is against the ten commandments of the law of God, and specifically “thou shalt not kill.”

  • A month of intercession (from the 15th of July to the 15th of August):
  • Thursdays (19th and 26th of July, 2nd and 9th of August): days of adoration of the Blessed Sacrament
  • Fridays (20th and 27th of July, 3rd and 10th of August): days of fasting.
  • Saturdays (21st and 28th of July, 4th and 11th of August): days of consecration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
  • Sundays (15th, 22nd, and 29th of July, 5th and 12th of August): renewal of baptismal promises
  1. These moments of reparation and intercession are a call to conversion for all, a time for reconciliation with God, with ourselves and with others. To this end, we ask Catholic Christians to live them intensely, frequently participating in the sacrament of Reconciliation.
  2. We must remember that “peace is a precious but fragile good that we must all take care of, educate toward, and that we must all promote in our country. As we know, peace is not reduced to the absence of war, rather, it is the generation of a ‘culture of peace’”…. (Cf. Aparecida Document, 542).
  3. We exhort men and women of good will to not respond with violence to the different provocations to which they are subjected. Evil has strength when we allow it. In the same way that Christ faced temptation from the devil in the desert with that unwavering faith in his Father God, (Cf. Mark 1: 12-13, Matt 4: 1-11, Luke 4:1-13), so we too, being his followers, are called to face the power of evil with the same faith because only in this way can we conquer it and live in a just and peaceful society. Let us not be accomplices to evil.
  4. May Mary in her glorious Assumption and by her maternal intercession obtain for us from her Divine Son the gift of justice and peace for the pilgrim Church in Nicaragua and for all Nicaraguans.

From the seat of the Conference of Catholic Bishops of Nicaragua, Managua, on the 14th day of the month of July of 2018.

1 reply
  1. Dr.Cajetan Coelho says:

    Thus wrote Mahatma Gandhi, the apostle of peace, non-violence, and justice: My religion teaches me that whenever there is distress which one can not remove, one must fast and pray.

    Reply

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