Showing posts with label Nicaragua. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Nicaragua. Show all posts

Monday, October 17, 2022

Another Priest Arrested in Nicaragua

Father Enrique Martínez, parish priest of Santa Martha in Managua, was arrested on October 13.

(Managua) Nicaraguan priest-in-exile Uriel Vallejos lamented the arrest of his fellow brother Enrique Martínez Gamboa by the National Police on Friday. The number of priests arrested in 2022 thus increases to a total of nine, including a bishop.

Vallejos tweeted that Martínez Gamboa, parish priest of Santa Martha in Managua, was "kidnapped" at 5:00 p.m. local time (11:00 p.m. CET) on Thursday.

"Priests and the Catholic Church are demanding his release and an end to the persecution of the Church and clergy," he added.

At the same time, he released a video showing the imprisoned priest speaking to students. The rally was attacked by police and armed militiamen, killing eight protesters. The mood was correspondingly high.

In the video, Martínez Gamboa calls on the students demonstrating against President Daniel Ortega to "don't cuddle"; "Long live Nicaragua"; "Long Live the Mothers of the Fallen of April 19, 2018"; "Long live the doctors, the decent journalists". In the video, the priest can be heard calling President Ortega and his wife, the vice president, a “murder couple” and demanding, “Get out of the palace! Out!".

The National Police have neither confirmed nor denied the arrest of the priest. The Nicaragua Nunca Más human rights organization said his whereabouts are still unknown.

In the past six months, Ortega's police have arrested a total of eight priests and Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of Estelí.

Two weeks ago, President Ortega, who describes himself as a “ friend ” of Pope Francis, accused the Catholic Church of being a “dictatorship” and a “perfect tyranny” whose bishops tried to stage “a coup” against his government in 2018.

The arrest of Bishop Álvarez and eight priests, including Martínez Gamboa, is the latest chapter in what has been a particularly turbulent year for Nicaragua's Catholic Church with the Ortega regime branding Catholic leaders as "coup plotters" and "terrorists".

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Twitter/Pbro Uriel Vallejos (Screenshot)

Trans: Tancred


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Nicaragua: Processions Banned in Dissident City of Masaya

 In a statement, the Archdiocese of Managua announced the recent ban on processions in the city of Masaya.

(Managua) "For reasons of public security" processions in honor of Saint Jerome have been banned by the Nicaraguan National Police. He is the patron saint of the city of Masaya. As the socialist regime intensifies its persecution of the Church, it is backed by Pope Francis.

On Saturday, the Archdiocese of Managua announced in a statement: 

"The National Police of the city of Masaya has informed the religious communities and parish priests of the parishes of Masaya, San Miguel Arcángel and San Jerónimo that, for reasons of public safety, no processions are allowed on the respective feast days in this city."

The city of Masaya is 28 kilometers southwest of the capital and traditionally celebrates the longest patronal festival in Nicaragua, perhaps in the world, from September to December, in honor of Church Father Jerome.

In its statement, the Archdiocese of Managua invited parishioners “and those who devote themselves to the patron saint to remember that faith and devotion are treasures that we carry in our hearts and from there we cherish with them by virtue of ancestral heritage in our communities."

According to the archdiocese, the Masses, novenas, and liturgical celebrations will take place as planned. At the same time, the Archdiocese invoked the intercession of the Archangel Michael, St. Jerome "and the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of the Church and Queen of Peace", "to heal us from all evil with the medicine of God."

Masaya is a former Sandinista stronghold that revolted in April 2018 in the wake of anti-government protests against President Daniel Ortega's Sandinista regime. In the city, the demand for the resignation of Ortega and his government was raised for the first time after they used violence to put down the demonstrations.

Since then, the bishops have been called "putschists" and "terrorists" by the Sandinistas, and the Church has been opposed by the regime. Three bishops critical of the government had to resign, go into exile, or were arrested. On August 19, Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa was arrested after having been effectively under house arrest since August 4. Several priests and seminarians were arrested with him and taken to the infamous El nuevo Chipote prison brought to opponents of the regime. Pope Francis has not yet commented on the bishop's arrest. Sandinista circles had already interceded with the Holy See in the days when the bishop was besieged by the police in the episcopal Curia to have Francis appoint the bishop to the Roman Curia. The negotiations about a "deal" have not yet led to a result. According to this, the bishop will be released on condition that he leaves Nicaragua.

The anti-Church reprisals also included the ban on nine Catholic radio stations. Three Catholic television stations were removed from the service by the state media authority.

Processions have been banned in the past because the socialist rulers fear they could become a visible expression of criticism of the regime. Priests were besieged in their churches and the faithful were prevented from entering the church for Mass.

With the support of the USA, the Central American country was ruled by the Somoza family for 43 years. 43 years ago, the Sandinistas overthrew the Somoza regime and seized power for the first time. After the collapse of the communist bloc, they were removed from it but returned to the government in 2006. Relations between the Church and the Sandinistas have been strained for 43 years. The reason for this is not least church circles which, as followers of Marxist liberation theology such as the three priests Ernesto Cardenal, Fernando Cardenal, and Miguel d'Escoto, allied themselves with the Sandinistas. 

Before the Sandinista Revolution, 96 percent of Nicaraguans professed the Catholic faith. According to the latest government information, it should now be only 56 percent. The number of non-denominational rose to 16 percent, and the proportion of Protestant free churches to 25 percent - a phenomenon that Pope Francis, who is described by dictator Ortega as a "friend", seems just as unconcerned as the persecution of the church. Not everything that the government is doing is good, Francis said last Thursday on the return flight from Nur-Sultan to Rome. At the same time, however, he announced that, according to his assessment, it was "not correct" to describe the totalitarian communist regime of the People's Republic of China as "undemocratic".

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image : Archdiocese of Managua/Facebook (Screenshot)

Trans: Tancred


Wednesday, August 17, 2022

Police State Nicaragua

On Saturday, Nicaraguan National Police surrounded Managua Cathedral to obstruct a prayer "for the Church and for Nicaragua."

For the First Time in 30 Years, a Procession Has Been Halted -- Priest Arrested

(Managua) The anti-Church measures in Nicaragua are becoming open repression. Nevertheless, Pope Francis is silent on the persecution, as it showed itself this weekend.

Events in the Central American country are unfolding. In Managua, the police had surrounded the cathedral. In various parts of the country, the processions for the feast of the Assumption of Mary had been banned. The prelude was the ban on a procession planned for August 13. An unprecedented event in the history of the country since the end of the Sandinista revolutionary government in 1990. The Sandinista regime cited "a threat to internal security" as the reason.

With this justification, the ban on a large procession "for the Church and for Nicaragua" was first imposed. This procession had been planned for August 13 at the end of the Marian Congress. In the procession, a statue of Our Lady of Fatima was to be carried through the streets of Managua.

The police extensively monitored the area around the congress and obstructed the faithful from reaching the congress grounds. Buses and cars were stopped, the people checked and partly prevented from continuing their journey. The Archdiocese of Managua, because of the ban on the procession, called on the faithful to come to the cathedral after the end of the Marian Congress to pray for the aforementioned petitions.

Sandinista hostility to the Church: "Demons in cassocks"

Head of state and government Daniel Ortega and his wife Rosario Murillo accuse the church of planning a coup d'état in 2018 to put an end to Sandinista rule. In reality, the ecclesiastical hierarchy had sought mediation between the socialist regime and the people who had gathered in the streets for mass protests. Ortega brutally suppressed the protests. Hundreds of people were killed. Since then, the Church has been subjected to numerous harassments and has been openly persecuted for months. The reason for this is that Ortega and Murillo are convinced that the critics of the regime gather in the protection of the Church, which is why they see in every procession and every prayer an anti-regime rally.

Police contingent for intimidation and ready to access

On Twitter, a user wrote on the news that the police had surrounded the cathedral of Managua:

"If it is an attack to attend Mass, FAITH is the only thing this dictatorship is afraid of." 

Ortega's wife, who has served as vice president since 2017, attacks the Church almost daily, calling priests "imposters" and "manipulators." 

Ortega himself described the country's bishops as "demons with cassocks." In the past two months alone, the Ortega-Murillo couple has closed eleven radio stations and five television stations. Most of them were under Church sponsorship. Most recently, the regime closed Radio Darío in the city of León last Friday.

Bishop Álvarez of Matagalpa is held "hostage" by the police in his Curia, as his confrere Msgr. Baéz criticized. Álvarez criticized the government's measures on Twitter:

"They have shut down all our radio stations, but they will not silence the Word of God."


Since August 4th, the police have been besieging the diocesan curia of Matagalpa. Since then, the bishop has been held in it together with several priests, some seminarians and two laymen. As he continues his criticism via social networks, the regime has since initiated criminal proceedings against him for allegedly "organizing violent groups" and "inciting hatred."

In various parts of the country, Monday, on the feast of the Assumption, the police prohibited priests from carrying out traditional processions or other activities outside the churches.

Yesterday, the country's Episcopal Conference also criticised the arrest of priests without being accused of anything. [Reminds one of the treatment the FFI got from Bergoglio and Volpe.] For example, the diocese of Siuna in the north of the country announced the arrest of Don Oscar Benavidez of the Holy Spirit Church in Mulukukú. The priest had been arrested on Sunday afternoon "without giving reasons or motives". The diocese demanded information from the state about the whereabouts of the priest. However, the police refused to confirm the arrest themselves.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights CENDIH announced that the priest was "taken out of his vehicle and taken away in a patrol car in an unknown direction," and called for "an end to the persecution of the Church and its clergy."

Mulukukú was a center of anti-Sandinista resistance in the first Ortega dictatorship in the 80s.

"No freedom of religion, no freedom of expression"

Nicaraguan priest Edwin Román, who lives in exile in the U.S., told VOA News that in Nicaragua there is "no freedom of religion, no freedom of expression, no freedom of movement."

Bishop Silvio José Báez, who expressed his solidarity with Bishop Álvarez on Twitter, also lives in exile in the USA today. According to official language regulations, the regime critic had asked Pope Francis in 2019 to release him from his office as auxiliary bishop of Managua. In reality, Francis had presented his head to the regime by calling him – "for his safety" – to the Vatican. Initially, it was said that he would be given a new task there until his return to Nicaragua would be possible again. But that was not the case. Bishop Báez was not given a task in Rome out of consideration for the Ortega regime. Instead, the Carmelite was assigned a Jesuit community in Florida as his place of residence. [Imagine the stench of iniquity?]

For years, the Church has been in a field of tension that weighs heavily on it. While the Church in Nicaragua is being persecuted more and more brutally, Pope Francis is silent on this while dictator Ortega calls Francis his "friend." Neither on Sunday nor yesterday did Francis comment on the events in Nicaragua at the Angelus in St. Peter's Square.

The "friendship" could be captured in pictures last Saturday, when the entrances to the Marian Congress in Managua were monitored by the police and the cathedral was surrounded by national police. Nevertheless, several thousand Nicaraguans managed to reach the cathedral and pray there "for the Church and for Nicaragua".

The area around the cathedral, located in the center of the capital, was the scene of large mass protests against the Ortega regime in 2018. Since then, public rallies have been suppressed by the state. Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, Archbishop of Managua and Primate of Nicaragua, said on August 13th, apparently addressing the government: "Lord forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing."

Characteristic of the repressive climate in Nicaragua, the mask requirement still enforced in the summer of 2022 due to an alleged corona threat that applies even to outdoor gatherings.

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image: Twitter (Screenshots)

Trans: Tancred


Saturday, August 6, 2022

Sandanista KGB Retreat Before Blessed Sacrament Held by Bishop During Siege

Edit: somebody please write Amnesty International. Sorry, just kidding. Please pray and consider sacrifices for Catholics living under oppression in the Vatican and everwhere there are Communists calling the shots!  Thanks for donating to Katholisches.

Nicaraguan National Police and a special unit cordon off the Curia of the Diocese of Matagalpa, where Bishop Álvarez and his vicar general are staying.

(Managua) The National Police and a special unit of the Sandinista Ortega regime besieged the Curia of the Diocese of Matagalpa and prevented the bishop from entering it.

Similar repressive attempts at intimidation had taken place several times in the past few months. The bishop himself was followed at every turn by plainclothes police, which is why he even went on a hunger strikeSince the strongest critic of the socialist regime among the bishops was retired by Pope Francis, Bishop Álvarez has taken over this position.

Because the police are besieging parishes in his diocese, Bishop Rolando Álvarez announced that he would celebrate a Mass with the intention of asking for protection for his priests. A celebration in the cathedral was impossible because of the police presence. So the bishop went with the vicar general, six priests and six laymen to the episcopal curia to celebrate in the chapel there.

Bishop Álvarez reported on the radio that he was going to go to the besieged parish to celebrate with the faithful when he was told that the curia had also been surrounded by police forces. The bishop went to where his vicar general was already.

The Chief of Police of the Department of Matagalpa, Sergio Gutiérrez, who was present, asked the Bishop to cooperate, to which the Bishop replied: "You are the ones who do not cooperate".

"Those who don't cooperate are the police forces because they don't let priests into churches or seminarians into seminars for Eucharistic adoration, liturgy, communion and prayer.
And now the police are asking me to cooperate. The police say we are the ones causing fear, when they are the ones blocking access to the Curia, the ones standing on my doorstep and not letting anyone in."


Bishop Álvarez accused the national police, led by Francisco Díaz, a close confidant of President Ortega, of "not allowing freedom of movement, freedom of expression and freedom of religion".

"I ask the police, in all courtesy and before the Lord, to let us celebrate the Eucharist, to adore Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, and to leave the door of my house, the door of the Curia, and let in the faithful who are entering the Church coming to worship his Lord."

And further:

"The devil wants to lead us into the temptation of hate, despair and division. Hate is answered with love, division is answered with unity, and despair with hope."


If the police want to enter his home, he welcomes them, the bishop said, but they should end the cordon that prevents him from entering and others from accessing him.

The bishop tried to hug the police chief and officers present "as a sign of peace, but they wouldn't allow it."

The bishop knelt down in the street to pray and had the Holy of Holies brought to him by the Vicar General. With this he finally approached the police, who backed off. This made it possible for the bishop and his vicar general to enter the curia. The six other priests and six lay people who were with the bishop were denied entry.

According to the bishop, he will remain in the curia together with his vicar general. In the chapel there he celebrated the mass to protect the priests, which was broadcast on the church radio station.

In his sermon, he complained that plainclothes police officers attended masses, recorded sermons, and "investigated us as if we were plotting a conspiracy."

Recently, in the Diocese of Matagalpa alone, the Sandinista regime shut down six Catholic radio stations in a bid to choke off the Church's voice.

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Image : Twitter/César Jiménez Mtz

Trans: Tancred


Friday, March 22, 2019

The Reconciliation of Ernesto Cardenal

Ernesto Cardenal, with stole, during the first Mass after lifting his suspension a divinis.

The Catholic journalist Francisco Fernandez de la Cigoña, one of the most well-known Spanish columnists and bloggers on Church issues, has never made a secret of his rejection of Marxist liberation theology and his criticism of their representatives such as Ernesto Cardenal. His grandfather had been murdered by the Marxists in the Spanish Civil War because, as a Catholic and an industrialist, he belonged to the "wrong" credo and the "wrong" class. He knows about what is supposedly meant well but can lead to wrong ideas.

Progressive Church circles celebrate the pardon of Cardenal by Pope Francis and take the opportunity once again to repeat their dislike of Pope John Paul II, who suspended Cardenal a divinis in 1984. This reaction was predictable and contains nothing new. How much more remarkable, however, is the conciliatory tone found by a hard critic of Cardenal like Fernandez de la Cigoña. The Spanish journalist sheds light on the extent to which the devout Catholic rejoices over anyone who returns to the full unity of the Church, and over any suspended or apostate priest who rightfully practices his sacrament of Holy Orders, even if he was once a harshly criticized opponent.

The video at the end of the article shows from minute 1:08 also Pope John Paul II’s meeting with Ernesto Cardenal, then Sandinista minister in Nicaragua. The gesture of the head of the Church clarifies the drama of the moment. He demanded Cardenal's immediate resignation as Minister of Culture, which he refused.

Here is the comment by Francisco Fernandez de la Cigoña on the pardon of Ernesto Cardenal by Pope Francis in full:

Penalties waived against Ernesto Cardenal

by Francisco Fernandez de la Cigoña

The penalties against Ernesto Cardenal have been lifted. That seems to me very good. He is 94 years old. He is in a hospital and looks very bad. It goes so far that it is not clear in the photos whether he is still fully conscious. Did he celebrate the Mass? Did he concelebrate? Whatever it is, it makes me very happy.

A priest of Jesus Christ who has been suspended for his political activities, minister of a Marxist government, communist, or whatever you wish to qualify it as, who has violated all the rules of the Church, is called by Pope Francis in articulo mortis [in the face of death] or almost pardoned. 

Blessed Mercy of the Church.

Like the Claretian priest and liberation theologian Pedro Casaldáliga, Cardenal was considered a poet. For me he was never a writer, this attribution was misleading. There is no merit in his literary work; on the contrary, it seemed to me right rubbish, which was crammed with the prevailing leftist thinking. He always seemed to me to be an eccentric who was especially concerned about his fame. But perhaps he was misunderstood, even though his life conveyed exactly that impression. All his Sandinista passion ended in a radical opposition to the system he advocated and which had cost him the suspension a divinis. He was really mobile like a donna. (1)

I read that a few years ago he rejected the pardon of the Church. In old age you may know it better, as in his now. So we want to believe that he has now reconciled himself with the Church before his conscience - and above all in the infinite grace of God, which overcomes all our weaknesses.

John Paul II raised his accusing finger against him as he had to. The criticism of the Jesuit Pedro Miguel Lamet, even now, is even more regrettable. Now if Francis generously offered his hand, then that is as it should be. He has not acquitted a Sandinista, but a priest from his past mistakes. Now he can look forward to the mercy of the Church. And we too. Today, Cardenal is against Daniel Ortega, though that does not matter anymore in his state of doubtful consciousness. When he expressed his opposition to the Ortega system, he was still conscious.

Because of his age and my age, I'm sure I'll never meet Ernesto Cardenal. If anything happened tomorrow, I would also devoutly ask him, "Bless me, Father." And I would be able to receive his blessings from him with the permission of the Church. That pleases me a lot.

The pictures say a lot about the Pope's mercy. At least this time.

There are a few more, but I hold back.

If someone thinks that you should not publish such photos, then please do not complain to me, but on the progressive websites Lamet and Religion Digital.

Text: Francisco Fernandez de la Cigoña
Übersetzung: Giuseppe Nardi
Bild: Religion Digital (Screenshot)
Trans: Tancred
(1) A play Canzone „La donna è mobile“ (The Lady is temperamental, fickle) in the Opera  Rigoletto by Giuseppe Verdi.

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Pope Sends Felicitations to Murderous Sandanistas

Papal sympathies for the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega

Edit: earlier, he called down divine wrath upon them.  What happened? 

(Managua) On August 30th, US columnist and native Argentinian Andrés Oppenheimer lamented Pope Francis' silence on the situation in Nicaragua. Oppenheimer called the papal behavior "shameful" and demanded an opinion on the "death of at least 322 people in the past four months in protests against the government." Other sources speak of over 400 dead killed by government units or paramilitary groups affiliated with the left-wing government. Meanwhile, it was known that Pope Francis would take a position, just not in the sense of Oppenheimer.

Anyone who has known the history of Nicaragua since the 1970s knows how much the local Jesuits and Marxist liberation theology had on the Sandinista revolution, the overthrow of Somoa and the establishment of a socialist dictatorship. In connection with Pope John Paul II's visit to Nicaragua in 1983, this break through the middle of the Church became particularly visible internationally. In the 1980s, the Western European New Left came up with enthusiasm for what was then the latest "socialist experiment.”

While the Jesuit and Minister of Culture Ernesto Cardenal in 1958 greeted John Paul II at the airport, sarcastically falling to his knees, he was greeted at the same time with a question that he defied the call to resign his ministry, as Church law prohibits clerics from the exercise of political office. At the adjoining Pope's Mass in Managua, the regime and its clerical supporters occupied the square in front of the Pope's pavillion with convinced Sandinistas who whistled and shouted at the Pope. That was the tolerance of Catholic Marxists towards the Pope.

In 1983, the Sandinists, whether clerical or anticlerical, and their European supporters saw the pope in Rome as an enemy. In 2018 they will see one of their own in him.

Tempora mutantur.

Greetings from Pope Francis to Comandante Ortega

As it is now known, Pope Francis actually commented on Nicaragua on August 31, a day after Oppenheimer's column, albeit quite differently from what the columnist had hoped.

Pope Francis sent a message of greeting to Nicaraguan Sandinista President Daniel Ortega via the Apostolic Nunciature in Managua. The occasion was the National Day, celebrated on 15 September, commemorating the 197th anniversary of the country's independence from Spain.

Yesterday, the "Comrade" Rosario Murillo, Vice President of Nicaragua and wife of President Ortega, "pleased" the public announced the contents of the papal letter.

"I deeply appreciate the wonderful, fitting letter of the Holy Father, Pope Francis, to Comandante Daniel Ortega and the people of Nicaragua. And we appreciate the attention of Lord Nuncio, with whom he sent us the letter of the Holy Father, that we might celebrate together in these days of the Fatherland and of the heart.”

And what exactly did Pope Francis write to the Comandante?

"His Excellency, Mr. José Danel Ortega Saavedra
President of the Republic of Nicaragua
On the occasion of the National Day of Nicaragua, I cordially greet all the sons and daughters of this beloved land and assure you of my prayer that Jesus Christ, the Prince of Peace, will grant you the graces of a brotherly reconciliation and a peaceful and united life together.
Francis PP. "

Text: Giuseppe Nardi
Picture: MiL
Trans: Tancred
What happened? 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Marxist University in Nicaragua Mortared

Edit: the Sandinistas have been accused lately of trying to fan discontent with the standing government by firing at crowds. Perhaps the Sandinistas are mortaring their fellow traveler friends?

[America] Since protests directed at the Sandinista government in Nicaragua began in April, the Jesuit-run University of Central America has been a hub of student activism and, as a result, a target of violence. On Sunday, Father Jose Alberto Idiaquez, S.J., the rector of U.C.A., condemned the latest attack on his university as government-sponsored.
In a statement addressed to the Nicaraguan people, Father Idiaquez announced that U.C.A.’s campus in Nicaragua’s capital city of Managua was attacked on May 27 at 12:45 a.m. by a group of masked men in vans. The attackers shot a mortar at two campus guards.
Since protests directed at the Sandinista government in Nicaragua began in April, the Jesuit-run University of Central America has been a a target of violence.
“Although they did not manage to hurt or kill our watchmen, this was their intent, based on the charge of gunpowder used and the nearness of the shot,” Father Idiaquez said in his statement.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Ortega Accused of Religious Pandering by Former Culture Minister

Edit: in a country where almost sixty percent identify themselves as Catholics, the Leftist President, Daniel Ortega, now enjoys the support of Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo who was critical of him when he ruled the country beginning in 79 when he toppled Somoza thanks to the benign neglect of President Jimmy Carter.

All is not well, however, Jesuit Ernesto Cardenal, former Sandista Minister of Culture publicly reprimanded by Pope John Paul, and Bishop Abelardo Mata are more cynical about Ortega's newly found faith in God.

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Religious processions and chants have become common at the re-election campaign rallies of leftist Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who is highlighting his Christianity in his bid for re-election.

The image put forth by Ortega's Sandinista Party has dismayed Roman Catholic Church officials, who say the leader's spirituality is a ploy to deceive Nicaraguans who will elect a president in November.

"It's legal, legal, legal," Ortega said at a recent rally when addressing criticism that he is running a campaign tinged with religion. "No one can ban us from using the word Christian. No one. The Vatican hasn't said a word about it."

Link to AP...

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Remembering a Lasallian Missionary to Central America

Brother James Miller gave his life for God, and now the Roman Catholic Church has begun the process to make the Saint Mary's University graduate a saint.

Earlier this year, he was designated a "servant of God" and a martyr for the faith - beginning a journey that could end in canonization, the Roman Catholic process of sainthood. He is the only SMU graduate to be considered for the designation.

Miller was born prematurely - weighing barely 4 pounds - in 1944 in Stevens Point, Wis. But he grew up to tower over people, standing at 6 feet 2 inches tall and weighing more than 200 pounds. He was a farm kid with a knack for language and boisterous guffaw that could startle some.

Miller's religious studies at SMU in the mid-1960s culminated in his career teaching indigenous Latin American Indians. Many of his contemporaries in the Lasallian order describe a man perfectly suited for life in Central America - an agrarian background and fluency in Spanish and English. But most importantly, Miller felt especially strongly about educating the Indians in the classroom and in the field, where he taught agriculture.

It was there, outside a Guatemalan school where Miller was repairing a wall in 1982, three assassins took his life.

Passion for education

Miller found his passion in 1974 when he was assigned to Nicaragua.

His work there included expanding a school for indigenous tribes, doubling the faculty and the student body to 800 people.

Though not necessarily sympathetic to the political aims of the Somoza family that controlled Nicaragua, Miller maintained a close alliance with the regime because he saw it as a way to expand the school, said Brother Francis Carr, a classmate and fellow Lasallian brother. But, as unrest wracked the country, many local residents took Miller's cordial relationship with the Somoza government as tacit support.

As the Sandinista revolution spread throughout Nicaragua and the rural countryside, Miller started receiving threats. In fact, the Sandinistas rebels put Miller on a list of people to be "dealt with" when they came into power.[That's a good list to be on]

Miller fell further out of favor as he and other teachers tried to keep students out of military service.

The rebel war drew closer to his school in Puerto Cabezas, and machine gun fire could often be heard outside. Realizing the threats, Miller advanced a planned vacation to Wisconsin in which he’d help celebrate the centennial of his home parish.

“Under the pretext of being the companion of an aged nun, he was able to fly to Managua on a Red Cross plane and obtain a flight to the United States,” wrote Brother Theodore Drahmann in

his book, “Hermano Santiago: The Life and Times of Brother James Miller.”

Miller was worried his departure would be seen as fleeing out of fear and wrote to several people emphatically telling them of his return.

“Keep the Institute going, all of you,” he wrote. “Students, teachers and workers have the responsibility to care for the school. I will be back in one month. Remember that building the new structure was hard; now that we have it, maintain it, keep it pretty. I will see you later.”

Shortly after he left, the Somoza government fell to the Sandinistas, and the religious superiors of the Lasallian order decided Miller would not return to Nicaragua.

Trip back home, then a new assignment

Miller spent a frustrating year and a half in America, first in Wisconsin and later in the Twin Cities.

“I’m bored up here,” he wrote. “I hate snow, even the little we’ve gotten this year. I guess it’s no secret that I am anxious to return to Latin America. I just don’t function to my best potential up here anymore,” Miller wrote to Brother Martin Spellman.

In January 1981, Miller learned he would be assigned to Huehuetenango, Guatemala.

The assignment in Huehuetenango wasn’t so unlike the assignment in Nicaragua. He taught and worked on a farm that helped support an Indian school. And he helped Mayan Indians study their own culture and trained them to be teachers so they could go back to the villages and educate. But there was another reason for the education: to keep the Indians from being conscripted into the army.

“The brothers (at the school) were all about the kids, and if the government got in the way of the kids, they’d stick their noses in it,” Carr said. “And the government saw that, and it didn’t like it.”

This caught the attention of the already embattled government, which was trying to stave off insurgents. The Christian brothers and the school were seen with suspicion. Rumors began to circulate that the school was sympathetic to — even harboring — some guerrilla fighters.

Those rumors weren’t true and were probably started by the army to arouse public sentiment against the school, Spellman said. Anyone not openly supportive of the government was believed to be working against it. Yet Spellman also said that unlike his time in Nicaragua, Miller refrained from entering the political fray and instead focused more on the agricultural and teaching aspects of the job.

Still, Miller acknowledged the risky political situation.

“The level of violence here is reaching appalling proportions, (murders, torture, kidnappings, threats) and the Church is being persecuted because of its option for the poor,” Miller wrote. “Aware of the many difficulties and risks, we continue to work with faith and hope and trust in God’s providence.”

As violence spread throughout the country, Spellman and other Roman Catholic religious workers were told by credible sources that someone in a religious order — somewhere in Guatemala — would be killed. But Spellman never thought the assassination would reach remote Huehuetenango.

And nobody thought it would be the big guy from Wisconsin.

“While all the other brothers were talking about the political situation, Brother James was asking about mops and buckets for the kids,” Spellman said. “He was apolitical, really.”

Gunned down, with no justice for his death

Accounts of Miller’s death differ, but this much is clear: On Feb. 13, 1982, Miller was repairing a wall on the 100-year-old school building. He sent a young boy who was helping him inside to get a tool or some other object as he continued to work, according to interviews in Drahmann’s book. Several children looked on from a second-story window when three men stepped forward, pulled guns at point-blank range and fired.

Miller was probably dead before he hit the ground. People standing on the street saw the three men run toward the military base in town.

Calls from the American Consulate and Roman Catholic Church to investigate the murder poured in to Guatemala City. Two months after Miller’s death, the Guatemalan government expressed regret the case had dragged on for so long. Miller was one of thousands of missing or murdered people in a country ripped apart by bloodshed and political upheaval.

The Guatemalan government eventually concluded that “subversive criminal elements” had probably murdered Miller. The government then closed the case, without naming the murderers and without justice.

Spellman is still shocked and angered by Miller’s death.

“It was a senseless murder,” he said. “It was done by a goon squad.”

Spellman said it was possible to learn who committed the murders, but doing so only endangered more religious workers and residents. So, it became a simple equation: Risk more lives for the justice of one, or pass on the opportunity to close a murder.

“We had to explain to the Miller family there wouldn’t be justice for his death,” Spellman said. “Mrs. Miller (James’ mother) was strong, and she understood.”

Today, nearly three decades after Miller’s death, Spellman doesn’t doubt it was a case of mistaken identity.

Years later, a close friend of his with ties to the military confided to the brothers that Miller was misidentified.

“He said the priest we killed was by mistake,” Spellman said. “Brother James would have been the last one (to be assassinated), but to them, we all looked the same.”

Hermano Santiago’s case moves forward

Carr, the Lasallian brother, believes the push to have Miller canonized has come late because the political climate in Guatemala had been so unstable. But now the bishops of Guatemala have pressed forward with the man they call “Hermano Santiago.”

Carr is quick to point out there were other lay members who also died in Guatemala teaching the faith.

“We wanted the others to be part of the movement toward canonization,” Carr said. “But that part isn’t moving (through the process). This isn’t just about Jim Miller.

“For those of us who knew him, he was ordinary like us,” Carr said. “But if you die for something you believe in, that’s something altogether different.”

The Vatican will continue to examine Miller’s case. For example, because he was a martyr, officials will look for just one miracle, instead of the customary two usually required for canonization.

“I suppose if we knew any saint, they wouldn’t always be the easiest people to live around,” Spellman said. “And you know, they weren’t born with halos on their heads.

“But he died in the order [that should be odor of sanctity] of sanctity, and not a lot of people realized his piety,” he said. “His letters are full of asking people for prayers. That impresses me a great deal.”

Link to original...

h/t to the comrades at: Stella Borealis