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.