(Agenzia Fides) – The Nicaraguan Bishops ‘Conference (CEN) gathered at the annual plenary Assembly from 13 to 15 November to learn and share the work of the various bishops’ Commissions in the face of the social reality that the country is experiencing.

The main purpose of the meeting was to evaluate the work done to prepare an action plan for 2018 and for each of the dioceses in Nicaragua.

The spirit of communion promoted by all the Bishops who attended the meeting created the awareness of the need for greater commitment in the various social, political, economic and religious realities of the country.

In yesterday’s press conference, announced to report the conclusions of the Assembly, Mgr. Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara, S.D.B., Bishop of the Diocese of Estel and new Secretary General and CEN spokesman, stressed that the country needs a profound electoral reform capable of offering the people guarantees regarding the democratic future of the country. At the same time, he complained about the violence occurred in recent clashes, which caused seven deaths and hundreds of injuries.

“We talk with experience, we bring with us the feeling and the pain of a people. We believe in this necessity, it is best to retrace the path in order to give birth to a credible institution where people can go with joy and express their vote”, said Mata.

He then informed the new Presidency of CEN: Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, President of CEN; Mgr. Pablo Ervin Schmitz Simon, O.F.M. Cap. Apostolic Vicar of Bluefields, Vice-President; Mgr. Silvio Báez, Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, head of the Family and Life Commission and the Ecclesiastical Tribunal.

CEN’s new leadership shall be responsible until 2020.

At this point, Mgr. Mata wanted to emphasize CEN’s support to Mgr. Silvio Báez, accused indirectly by the President of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, of not having gone to vote in the last municipal elections of November 5th. “The attack on our brother hurts us, they attacked a Church leader, attacked the Church itself”, Mata said in the name of the Episcopate.

In the recent municipal elections of November 5, Frente Sandinista managed to obtain 135 municipalities out of 153 across the country, with protests and clashes that resulted in the death and injury of many people.

President Ortega, during a tribute to Carlos Fonseca, the founder of Frente Sandinista, on 8 November, accused Mgr. Baez of having wanted to defy the authorities with his gesture of not voting, because he believes that Nicaragua’s electoral system is flawed and fraudulent (see Fides 23 and 31 October 2017).

According to data collected by Fides, Báez is one of the most beloved and respected Bishops in Nicaragua. He is admired by intellectuals and activists who declare themselves atheists, precisely because of their critical positions towards the government of Ortega, whose excesses he denounces directly and through social networks in which he is very active.

“No activity without reflection, no ethics without kindness, no politics without morality, no intellectualism without wisdom”, Báez wrote on Wednesday 8 on Twitter.

(Agenzia Fides, 16/11/2017)