Violence must end: Nuncio’s appeal made in Pope’s name

Violence in Nicaragua must end, say Catholic church leaders including bishops and the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua.

The Nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, has appealed for peace in the Pope’s name.

Violence has beset the country since April this year.

“With all my human and spiritual strength, I appeal to the consciences of all to reach a truce and return quickly to a national dialogue to seek together an adequate solution to solve the crisis,” Sommertag says.

He says he and Pope Francis “weep for all the dead and pray for their families.”

The Nicaraguan Pro-Human Rights Association say 351 people died in killings related to unrest between April 19 and July 10 this year.

They say the majority of the deaths were civilians protesting against President Daniel Ortega and calling for his resignation.

Ortega has been in power since 2007 and is on his third mandate. His wife Rosario Murillo is the Vice President.

Last Tuesday, police and pro-government militias took control of the Masaya.

Masaya is a suburb of the Nicaraguan capital Managua. It has become a symbol of resistance to Ortega.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the Apostolic Nuncio called the violence a “tragic moment” for the country.

“I wish to express, on behalf of the Holy Father and the Holy See, my deep concern for the grave situation the country is facing.

“Obviously, it is unacceptable to think that the dead and victims of violence can solve the political crisis and guarantee a future of peace and prosperity in Nicaragua.”

The Catholic Church has recently become a target of threats and attacks by security forces.

Sommertag, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and Bishop Silvio Báez were attacked by pro-government activists on 9 July.

In a separate incident, Bishop Abelardo Mata narrowly avoided an attack last week.

Despite these acts of aggression, the bishops are continuing to call for a return to dialogue with Ortega’s government.

They are condemning “the lack of political will on the part of the government to dialogue in sincerity and seek real paths towards democracy.”

Ortega, who originally asked church leaders to mediate the crisis, said last week their actions disqualified them as mediators.

He said the bishops had given him an ultimatum to call early elections and alleged that churches have been used to stockpile weapons and stage attacks.

“I thought they were mediators, but no, they are committed to the coup mongers. They were part of the coup mongers’ plan,” Ortega said.


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