The Catholic Bishops conference issued this pastoral letter yesterday, after pro-governmental groups attacked the barricade students had held at the UNAN, and the Catholic Church nearby where the students ran seeking refuge. Two students were killed and the heavily armed pro-governmental groups would not allow the students to receive medical treatment or be evacuated from the church, fired on the group inside the church that included a Catholic priest and a US journalist. Representatives of the IACHR denounced the attacks and there were many photos of ambulances prevented from entering the area as the National Police cordoned off the area. There were also reports of sanctuaries in Catholic Churches being ransacked and consecrated hosts strewn about the floor.
“The Truth will set you free” (Jn 8:31)
“No one can serve two masters” (Mt 6:24)
- We Bishops accepted in good faith being mediators and witnesses to the National Dialogue, placing as guarantors the Nicaraguan people and the international community that is in solidarity with our pain. Our mission is not reduced to being mediators and witnesses to the dialogue roundtable, but given the prophetic dimension of our ministry, we have seen ourselves faced with the urgency of going to places of conflict to defend the lives of the defenseless, bringing comfort to the victims and mediating in order to achieve a peaceful outcome to the situation. We declare that in order to carry out this work of charity the Nicaraguan church will continue making all the means within its reach available. Our mission of pastors and prophets does not contradict our roles as mediators and witnesses, given that what we are seeking is peace and justice as Nicaraguans.
- In recent days the repression and violence on the part of the pro-governmental paramilitaries has worsened against the people who are protesting civically. We profoundly lament so much death, pain and suffering of our people. Wounded, unjustly tried, threatened, intimidated and outrages committed against those who remain in places of peaceful protests. In addition we denounce the kidnapping and arbitrary detentions targeting the civilian population. Today as never before Human Rights are being violated in Nicaragua. In addition, members of the National Dialogue, human rights defenders and independent media have been the object of stigmatization campaigns on the part of the government.
- It is our duty to inform the Nation that during these months we have been witnesses to the lack of political will on the part of the government to sincerely dialogue and seek real processes that would put us on the path toward a true democracy, repeatedly refusing to address the central topics of the agenda of democratization and not implementing the recommendations of the IACHR, especially the urgent dismantling of the pro-governmental armed elements. The State representatives have distorted the principal objective that was the reason for the installation of the National Dialogue roundtable.
- The attacks perpetrated by the National Police, by pro-governmental paramilitary groups and mobs incited to attack and sow terror among the people who are civically demonstrating are legally and morally reprehensible. Equally reprehensible is every act of sacriligious profanation against the Church, be it now in its consecrated places or in its churches. Also reprehensible are the aggressions against national and international journalists, defenders of Human Rights, and members of civil society.
- We remember that it is the duty of the government to protect and respect the lives of Nicaraguans, including those who civically protest.:
“ All people have the right: 1) to their private life and that of their family. 2) the inviolability of their home, their correspondence and communications of any type. 3) to the respect of their honor and reputation. 4) to know all information that the state authorities have registered about them, as well as the right to know why and for what purpose it has that information”. (Constitution of Nicaragua, Art. 26)
- St Paul reminds us that “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the Principalities and Powers, against the Dominators of this sinister world, against the Spirit of Evil that are in the heights.” (Ephesians 6:12). Therefore we urge the Catholic faithful and men and women of good will to unite with us in:
- A day of fasting (Friday, July 20) in act of reparation for the profanations carried out in recent months against God. During that day the prayer of exorcism will be prayed to St. Michael the Archangel.
That day will be a call to all Nicaraguans, especially the police, military and the rest of the public employees and those whose conscience is telling them to not continue supporting directly or indirectly all these situations from the government or party of the government, so that they might seriously reflect on the grave and urgent historical situation that we are experiencing, make the decisions that their conscience dictates, and commit to defend life, truth and justice. We remind them that at the level of one´s conscience no one is obliged to fulfill an order that goes against the ten commandments of the law of God, particularly “thou shalt not kill.”
- A month of intercession (from July 15 to August 15):
- Thursdays (July 19, 26; August 2, 9): Days of Eucharistic adoration.
- Fridays (July 20, 27; August 3, 10): days of fasting.
iii. Saturdays (July 21, 28; August 4, 11): days of consagration to the Immaculate Heart of Mary
- Sundays (July 15, 22, 29; August 5, 12): renovation of baptismal promises.
- These moments of reparation and intercession are a call to conversion for everyone, a time of reconciliation with God, ourselves and our fellow human beings. For this purpose we ask Catholic Christians to live these moments with intensity, frequenting the sacrament of Reconciliation.
- We recall that “peace is a prized but precarious asset that we all need to take care of, educate and promote in our country. As we know, peace is not reduced to the absence of war, but the generation of a “culture of peace”…(Document of Aparecida, 542).
- We make a call to men and women of good faith to not respond with violence to the different provocations to which they are subjected. Evil has strength when we allow it. Likewise Christ confronted the temptation of evil in the desert with that unbreakable faith in his God the Father (Mk 1:12-13; Mt 4:1-11; Lk 4:1-13), likewise we, as his followers that we are, are called to confront the power of evil with the same faith because only in this way will we be able to overcome it and live in a society of justice and peace. Let us not be accomplices to evil.
- May Mary in her glorious Assumption and through her maternal intercession obtain for us from her Divine Son the gift of justice and peace for the Church that walks in pilgrimmage in Nicaragua and for all Nicaraguans.
In our office, Managua, Nicaragua on the 14 day of the month of July of 2018.
The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua