(Rome) The attack on Managua Cathedral reveals the dilemma in which the Church finds itself.
On July 31, “unknown masked people” carried out an arson attack on the cathedral of the Archbishop of Managua and Primate of Nicaragua. A fire was set off by a Molotov cocktail and a valuable wooden crucifix from the 17th century was destroyed.
VaticanNews spoke of an “act of church hatred” and relied on a statement by the Archdiocese of Managua. It speaks of an "intentional and planned" act.
Pope Francis said after the Angelus on Sunday August 2nd:
“I think of the people in Nicaragua who suffered from the attack on the Managua Cathedral, where the highly venerated image of Christ, which has accompanied and carried the lives of believers through the centuries, was badly damaged - almost destroyed. Dear brothers and sisters in Nicaragua, I am close to you and I pray for you. "
The background to the “aggression”, which “insults and hurts the Catholic community”, is the persecution of the church by the Sandinista regime’s head of state and government, Daniel Ortega. Nicaragua was the private empire of the Somoza family for several decades until it was overthrown by an uprising in 1979. This was supported by various circles, but the communists, supported by Cuba and Moscow, prevailed as the best organized and most determined group. Support for the “Sandinista Revolution” became a must for Western European neo-Marxists in the 1980s.
Parts of the Church sympathized with the revolutionaries. The then government of the Sandinista leader, Daniel Ortega was considered a "cabinet of priests". At times it consisted of three priests, all of whom were followers of Marxist liberation theology.
The Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. tried to put an end to this hustle and bustle by pushing back the Marxist influence on the thinking and opposing the real influence by the legislation of the communist dictators of Moscow and Havana, without putting aside the Church's mission for the poor and the suffering, or hitching themselves to the wrong cart.
Pope Francis is breaking new ground, embracing liberation theologians through rehabilitation. This also included two of the aforementioned ministers of priests whom he released from their Church sanctions shortly before their death. This happened in 2017 for the Marxist, liberation theologian and revolutionary, Miguel D‘Escoto, in 2018 for Ernesto Cardenal. "Punished by John Paul II, rehabilitated by Francis" was the headline of Katholisch.de, the Internet portal of the German Bishops' Conference, last January on Ernesto Cardenal, the "unrepentant revolutionary.”
The strategy of Santa Marta also includes the “embrace” of the second Sandinista regime, which Daniel Ortega established after a phase of democratization. The Church in Nicaragua, familiar with the situation, keeps its distance from the socialist regime and has in the past clearly criticized anti-church acts and restrictions on human rights. The Sandinista responded with increasing violence, which has been directed against the Church for more than two years. During this time around two dozen churches in Nicaragua were destroyed by attacks.
The attacks against the Episcopal Church of Managua
Managua Cathedral was the target of a Sandinista attack last year. Supporters of the regime stormed the church because opponents of the regime had started a hunger strike for the release of political prisoners. On December 5, 2018, a lesbian abortion and aberrosexual activist committed an acid attack against a father confessor in the cathedral. The attack occurred two days after a man identified as Ramon Mercedes Cabrera posted a video on social networks with serious threats against the Archbishop of Managua Leopoldo José Cardinal Brenes Solórzano “and anyone who is Catholic”, and at the same time had advocated support for the Sandinista ruling party FSLN.
Despite the obvious hostility of the Sandinista, which John Paul II had to experience as early as 1983, Francis has so far held back from any form of criticism - strikingly reticent. In 2018 he sent Ortega congratulations, which the regime played against the local church.
Indeed, in recent years there has been a gap between the stance of the Church in Nicaragua, led by the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Brenes, and Santa Marta. Critics spoke of a "shameful" attitude on the part of the Pope when it comes to Nicaragua.
The attack on the capital's cathedral once again made the differences in perspective clear. The Argentine Pope's sympathies and global strategies differ fundamentally from those of his two predecessors. Hardly any other country shows this as blatantly as Nicaragua. How long can the papal balancing act between congratulations to President Ortega and words "to the people of Nicaragua" be held?
The same Ortega, whose henchmen carried out the attacks on the church and who accused the bishops of his country of supporting a “coup d'état” against him and the Sandinistas, calls himself a “friend” of Pope Francis
Last week's arson attack was neither an isolated incident nor an "industrial accident", but an expression of the political climate created by the Sandinista.
Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: VaticanNews (screenshot)
Trans: Tancred email@example.com