Tuesday, July 24, 2018
Faithful Witness in Nicaragua
Our daughter-in-law is a biologist by training and during her undergrad years spent time in Nicaragua, one of the poorest countries in Central America. She had a number of adventures, some of them scary, but she continues to have great affection for both the country and the people. She also has friends she made there years ago, as well as colleagues who now reside there with their families.
She has been quite concerned about the increasingly volatile circumstances in Nicaragua which has resulted in clashes between government forces and citizens who are insisting that President Ortega and his government must go. There is a paramilitary group which seems to be acting as a strong-arm extension of the government and is partially responsible for violence and at least 300 killings. If Ortega's name is familiar, It's because his Sandinista rebels overthrew the Somoza dictatorship 40 years ago, but they are now verging on being as toxic as that regime.
The church in Nicaragua has been a key factor in what is unfolding now. In the first days of the upheaval, Ortega appealed to the bishops to act as mediators in talks with the eclectic opposition coalition. But as the government intensified its crackdown on the opposition, Mr. Ortega has ordered attacks by his followers on priests and on churches.
In a recent incident at the basilica in Managua someone slashed the auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Silvio José Báez, in the arm and ripped the insignia from his cassock. The bishop was protecting a group which had sought sanctuary in the church.
I am impressed by the courage of these clerics who are standing with the marginalized and threatened people of this impoverished country. It is important that we stay away of the crisis in Nicaragua and pray for the safety and wellbeing of the priests.