Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes, Archbishop of Managua, described the sociopolitical crisis in Nicaragua as a situation “harder than war” during an interview given in Rome, prior to his meeting with the Pope.
The Catholic Church leader stressed that Nicaraguans have felt the closeness of Pope Francis in the last two months, when they began protests against the government of Daniel Ortega, which have claimed the lives of some 285 people, according to local human rights organizations.
“The Catholic people in a special way, but I would say that even those men and women of good will, as he calls them, who do not profess the Catholic faith, have heard the voice of the Pope and have felt that the Pope is very close to us, the Nicaraguans, in this moment of suffering,” Brenes told the Rome Reports news agency, based in Italy’s capital city.
Brenes declared that what is happening in Nicaragua is “much harder than a war”, because unlike the armed conflicts that the country has gone through in the past, the murders that are currently taking place have been “against people who were walking through the street without any weapon or (against) someone behind a barricade, maybe with a mortar. ” It is a situation that for Brenes “harms the whole nation”.
The archbishop is in Rome since last Tuesday, accompanied by Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez, Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, to participate in various religious services and to meet today (Saturday) with Pope Francis.
The Catholic Church of Nicaragua is acting as a mediator to try to calm things down but it is also doing much more. On June 21, in the town of Masaya, the Nicaraguan bishops headed by Cardinal Brenes visited the besieged city with the Blessed Sacrament in their hands and going through barricades.
They managed to bring peace for a few hours and also achieved the release of some detainees.