This pastoral letter by the Catholic Bishop´s Conference, released on December 2, 2018 , should be seen within the context of the ongoing call for dialogue from the leaders of the opposition, the government sponsored proposal for a culture of peace and reconciliation, and the ongoing government threats and attacks against leaders of the opposition and the press .
Advent Message 12.2 18
Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua
“Blessed be God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Father of mercy and all consolation, who consoles us in our sufferings so that we might be able to console all those who suffer with the consolation that we ourselves received from God” (2 Cor 1:3-4)
To our brothers and sisters of the Catholic Church who are on a pilgrimage in Nicaragua, to the brothers and sisters of other Churches and Ecclesial Communities, the followers of other religions, men and women of good will committed to the service of the common good.
The tears of our people are the tears of God. He walks with us in the midst of grief and is in solidarity with our suffering (cf. Exodus 33:1-6; 34:8-10; Dt 4: 1-7). Indeed in death, in the disappearances of any human being, in detentions and in unjust jailings, in forced exile from the family, in the manipulation of consciences, above all through some communications media and social networks, many times promoters of false news and the division of the people, God himself has been negated. We ask ourselves if a new propect for a better Nicaragua is possible given the alarming increase in the rates of violence in the country, and the aggressive way how the desire for vengeance is hidden, even among brothers and sisters.
In the midst of this panorama the Church of Christ remains and hopes in the Lord. The optics of faith are what allows us to hope against all hope (Rm 4:18-21). God has the last word on life and the history of peoples, and therefore of our Homeland.
In this way, we Bishops see that:
- A new outlook for Nicaraguans is emerging, through the expressions that spring from concern for the human person. Gestures of solidarity, love and pardon are key to facing the violence that seeks to create circles of death. Indeed assuming fundamental humanity is a form of civil struggle, above all when all of us take seriously freedom of expression, peaceful protest, etc. We Christians have to redouble our prayer life and witness in the face of the fear and pessimism that attempts to impose itself, first in the hearts and then in the strata of human life, including our Christian communities.
- We can state that the current situation has exposed the reality of our nation.
- Dialogue as the peaceful solution continues being necessary. That is why we must not forget that rebuilding the nation requires future expectations, remembering that the hope for “something completely new” can happen in Nicaragua.
In reality, all of us have been affected by this social crisis. This sad reality allows us to break the veil of indifference to assume the responsibility which we have as sons and daughters of this Homeland. No one can remain with their arms crossed in the face of the pain of those who, even being adversaries, do not cease being brothers and sisters.
In the midst of the injustice our gaze should remain firmly on Jesus Christ, because we are convinced that inhumanity can only come from the lack of conversion. The search for peaceful solutions for the Nicaraguan situation has to pass through an authentic conversion to Him. This is a decisive hour for those of us who profess the Christian faith. We are called to make a break with personal egotism to be like the Teacher.
Jesus, with his words and deeds, defends the rights of men and women, and above all, the rights of God for men and women. His life is beset by an unbounded passion for human beings. He came to free us from the slavery of sin and death. He encompasses all of us with his love, and invites us to recognize one another as brothers and sisters.
From our faith in Jesus Christ, king of the universe and Nicaragua, we affirm that God in this way makes men to be intelligent and free sources to complete the work of Creation, to perfect his harmony for their good and that of their neighbors. Men and women, at time unconscious cooperators of the divine will, can freely enter in the divine plan, not just by their actions and their prayers, but also by their suffering (cf. Col 1:24). So they come to be fully “collaborators […] of God” (1 Cor 3:9; 1 Thes 3:2) and his Reign (cf. Col 4:11; CEC 307).
Consequently, every Nicaraguan, believer or not, has to collaborate with their actions so that the will of God might be established in us. Even pain itself assumed meaningfully constitutes a means to face injustice and oppression.
Pope Pius XII reminded the world that “nothing is lost with peace; everything can be lost with war.” Peace is a gift of God that we must ask for with insistence and on our knees. But, at the same time, it is a task that we have to bravely assume. We Nicaraguans already suffered in our own flesh the ravages of fratricidal fighting. This did not make us more human, on the contrary, it opened up wounds that still have not healed and that still ooze hate and violence.
For this reason we exhort Nicaraguans to not allow themselves to be seduced by immediate solutions, but rather act civilly because the new Nicaragua needs non violent leaders who conquer, from the hand of God, goals of liberty and justice. Active non violence breaks with the warfare logic in which the current world has gotten deeply involved, where weapons are worth more than human beings.
The fundamental intention of the Church is the glory of God through the integral salvation of human beings. Always committed to human persons, for their development and for the common good. From here it is out duty to propose, in the light of the social doctrine, directives that have to guide us in the search for alternative paths. No Christian can be married to the ideologies of the day. This is incompatible with following Jesus, because you cannot serve two masters (Mt 6:24)
It is vitally important to recognize that the national situation, no matter how chaotic it may be, presents us with several opportunities that we need to take advantage of.
- Today more than ever we need to go back to our Nicaraguan roots. Above all, Christian roots. Our people in a special way love the Blessed Sacrament, the Virgin Mary and the Holy Father. That is why, in the face of the smear and dishonorable campaigns against people of the Church, we must respond with more prayer, penitence and life testimony.
- One of the saddest thing in the midst of this conflict is the loss of identity. We Nicaraguans have to recall that we are known for the spirit of solidarity and hospitality, and from there, that in these moments it is right that we be exercising works of mercy. This exercise has to be directed at all without exception.
- We have to recall that the longing for a better Nicaragua should seek the common good, justice and peace. Therefore, all that we might do and think should be to the benefit of human people. Never based on economic and political interests of some few. These optics will turn the situation around and will allow efforts to come together to act as children of Nicaragua, where we all actively participate in common actions without any exclusion.
- We remember that we are facing a crisis that has deep roots in structural or social sin. That is why we call for the conversion of everyone. Only assuming the way of being of Christ will we have a just perspective that seeks pardon and reconciliation among the sons and daughters of the same nation. This path has to be fertilized with the demands for justice and the road that leads to truth: justice and truth represent the concrete requirements for reconciliation. Justice is “the attitude determined by the will to recognize the other as a person” (Compendium of DSI, 201).
- The current world also needs the testimony of unarmed prophets. This principle of evangelical charity must be our strength, and although it acts slowly and in a silent way, it points toward solid fundamentals.
- Dialogue is inscribed within this sense, which must be directed to opening new perspectives where there are none. This requires courage, audacity, respect for others, and above all, a lot of love for the Homeland. Therefore, a good politician is the one who, having in mind the interest of all, takes the opportunity to dialogue with an open spirit. A good politician in this sense always opts for generating processes more than for occupying spaces (cf. EG 222-223).
- We recognize, in addition, that in the dialogue with the State and society, the Church does not have solutions for all the particular issues. But along with different social forces, we Bishops are willing to accompany the proposals that best respond to the dignity of human beings and the common good. With the dialogue there is a future, without it, all efforts lead to failure. We affirm that we are convinced that dialogue is the peaceful solution to this social and political crisis.
The heart of Jesus “knows that one of the worst threats that strikes and will strike yours and all of humanity will be division and confrontation, the subjugation of some over others.” Today we want to enter with Him into that garden of sorrow, also with our sorrows, to ask the Father with Jesus: that we also might be one. The wealth of a land comes precisely from the fact that each party is encouraged to share their wisdom with others. It is not, nor will it be, a suffocating uniformity that normally originates in the dominance and strength of the strongest, nor a separation that does not recognize the goodness of others. Unity is not an art from desks nor documents, it is an art of listening and recognition. This introduces us to the path of solidarity as a way of weaving unity, as a way of constructing history. That is why we ask, Father, make us artisans of unity (cf. Pope Francis 1-17-2018).