Nicaragua: Sandinist Ortega Jails Seven Presidential Candidates and Attacks the Church

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Seven presidential pre-candidates will not be able to run for November 7 elections.

Newsroom (03/08/2021 18:20, Gaudium Press) -The Church in Nicaragua has been experiencing difficult circumstances for some years now.

As the world looks in shock, seven presidential pre-candidates are being held in jail by Daniel Ortega’s regime. Candidates Cristiana Chamorro, Felix Maradiaga, Arturo Cruz, Medardo Mairena, Juan Sebastian Chamorro, Miguel Mora and Noel Vidaurre will not be able to run for elections.

All the candidates have been arrested recently. Cristiana Chamorro, daughter of Violeta Barrios de Chamorro, has been under house arrest since June 2. They belong to various political parties of various tendencies. Yet, strong opposition against Sandinism seems to be their common characteristic.

However, the regime’s attacks aim not only at political opponents: they also against the Church.

Yesterday, during his presidential candidate acceptance speech, Ortega accused Catholic authorities of ‘hypocrites,’ ‘merchants,’ and ‘Pharisees.’
“No, no, [Christ] did not come to convey hypocrisy, or the false attitudes of those whom Christ called temple merchants, who disguised themselves as priests, who had taken over the temples and deceived the people and behaved as if they had the highest moral authority (…) because the message of Christ does not need intermediaries (…) neither God nor Christ needs these Pharisees as intermediaries,” he said.

Ortega also criticized the Church for having offered services to Anastasio Somoza. According to him, the Church “blessed and praised the tyrant who murdered the Nicaraguan people; it never criticized his crimes, the thousands of crimes to which the people of Nicaragua were subjected; it never criticized the hunger or the unemployment that the Nicaraguan people suffered.”

On July 30, Ortega derided the Catholic priests serving as mediators during the repression following April 2018 protests. He called them “Pharisees.”

“These are Pharisees. Christ called them Pharisees when he found them in the temple and whipped them out of there (…) the Pharisees have not disappeared, they go around in fancy clothes and talking as if they were saints. They have no respect for Christ, no respect for God,” Ortega added.

The Church expresses its intention to resist firmly, as it has done in the past

The Church warns that the regime’s violent rhetoric will not stop at merely verbal attacks. Last Saturday, the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, warned the government that the Church would present resistance in the face of any dictatorial measures. The prelate asserted the Church’s resolve during his homily at the Managua Cathedral during a mass marking the first anniversary of the attack on the image called Blood of Christ.

Catholic Church are prepared to face “reprisals” 

The Cardinal stated that the priests and the entire Catholic Church are prepared to face “reprisals” from the government.

Reprisals “will be welcome, and we will deal with them as we did in the 1980s [during Ortega’s first term],” he stressed. “The Church is not run by men. We are nothing but instruments, the Church is animated and strengthened by the Holy Spirit. We continue to fulfill the mission that the Lord has entrusted us,” the Cardinal emphasized.

He also dismissed accusations framing the Church as a political institution: “At no time we plan to assume a political role. Our work is to evangelize. Our work is the work of Christ’s love, who came so that we may have life and have life in abundance,” he told reporters on Saturday. The Church does not hate, neither with gestures nor with words; we pray for those who criticize and harass us, and that gives us peace,” he concluded.

Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes also affirmed that “we will continue forward regardless of what is said against us. Many fanatics sometimes pass by and shout insults. If they yell at me, I laugh. We believe in God, and in Him we trust. This is our strength. Our strength is in the Virgin Mary. They are our hope, and that is what priests, bishops and laity think. Fortunately, we are at ease carrying out our mission of evangelization.

With files from Crux

Compiled by Gustavo Kralj 

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