With nearly 500 dead in protests, Church leader laments that president won't acknowledge the people want change
The Church always wants dialogue, says a leading bishop in Nicaragua, but there can be no dialogue if the government won’t participate.
With this observation, Bishop Carlos Avilés Cantón, vicar general of the Archdiocese of Managua and acting counselor of the bishops’ dialogue commission, reported that the bishops of the country have agreed to write President Daniel Ortega to ask if he wants them to continue mediating a “national dialogue.”
“The Church is always on the side of the people, those who are poor and in need, those who suffer, die, are unjustly imprisoned, or disappear,” he said.
At least 448 people have been killed in more than 100 days of protests against the government of President Ortega, reported Vatican News.
The bishop noted similarities between today’s situation and the crisis of 1980. The difference this time, he said, is that there is no war or economic oppression. But the government continues to manipulate the Church, he noted.
Bishop Avilés said Ortega continues to lie about the clergy, accusing them of encouraging violence and hiding weapons, while in reality “the clergy are acting in peace, praying for those who persecute us, without forgetting the search for truth and justice.”
Bishop Avilés said Nicaraguans are united against the government, unlike in 1980. He said they are seeking justice, truth, and peace, and an end to the violence.
“Dialogue must be advanced by the government, the opposition, and the Church, without international assistance,” he said. Bishop Avilés said Pope Francis supports this path.
He said the government of President Ortega has held up the national dialogue by refusing to be confronted with the political question. “The government,” he said, “refuses to see that the people want change and a new government.”