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Nicaraguan priest appeals for intervention to prevent massacre of protesters

July 20, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 20, 2018 / 06:09 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A Nicaraguan priest has called on the international community to intervene to prevent the massacre of protesters by the country’s government and its paramilitary supporters.

Protests against president Daniel Ortega which began April 18 have resulted in more than 300 deaths, according to local human rights groups. The country’s bishops have mediated on-again, off-again peace talks between the government and opposition groups.

Fr. Augusto Gutierrez, a parish priest in the Monimbó neighborhood of Masaya, fewer than 20 miles southeast of Managua, was recently interviewed by the Spanish radio network COPE. Masaya has been at the center of the country’s protests.

Due to government pressure, the priest is in hiding since he has received numerous threats.

“We’ve gotten death threats because they say we’re the ringleaders of this situation, but we have been out in public because what the government of Daniel Ortega is doing is unjust. This is a genocide because there’s no other name for it,” Fr. Gutierrez said.

The priest appealed: “Don’t let us die. Please, intervene, do something.”

On July 17 the indigenous neighborhood of Monimbó was attacked by paramilitaries with ties to president Daniel Ortega.

In the interview, the priest said that the paramilitaries carried out a four hour attack in Monimbó: “with heavy military weapons, they’re desecrating churches and destroying lives.”

The priest explained that the Monimbó neighborhood is made up of simple people and that “for three months the government has lashed out against the population all over Nicaragua, including Monimbó, which has remained steadfast with great courage. But now they’re killing us.”

With regards to statements made by the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, during another interview with the COPE radio network, Fr. Augusto said that “he supports everything that the Church and the bishops are saying. But they (Ortega’s government) no longer want to listen to  reason, so there has to be international support to intervene and save the country.”

“This is not war because the people are defending themselves with what they can, roadblocks, stones, makeshift mortars. They (the government) are determined to celebrate July 19 over the blood of the people. And they can’t keep on governing over the dead and ordering to kill,” he stated.

July 19 marked the 39th anniversary of the ouster of the Somoza dictatorship by the Sandinista National Liberation Front, of which Ortega is the leader.

La Vanguardia news reported July 20 that at a pro-government celebration attended by thousands of supporters that day, Ortega charged the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference with complicity in a coup attempt. He based his accusation on the bishops’ proposal that he hold early presidential elections in March 2019.

The president challenged the Organization of American States and called on his followers to “not let down your guard” and to exercise“self-defense” in the midst of the grave crisis rocking the country.

Ortega said that he is the victim of “a conspiracy armed and financed by internal and external forces,” and disqualified the bishops as mediators in the crisis because they have “taken sides.”

In a July 14 statement, the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference denounced “the lack of political will by the government to dialogue” and seek real processes that would lead the country to a true democracy.

Finally, Fr. Gutierrez stated that Nicaragua is “in a state of emergency,” and that an “anti-terrorist” law was recently passed such that “all those who support the men at the roadblocks, or according to [the government] are collaborating against them, they’re going to put on trial.”

Barricades and roadblocks are now found throughout Nicaragua, and clashes frequently turn lethal. Bishops and priests across the country have worked to separate protesters and security forces, and have been threatened and shot.

Nicaragua’s crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.

Anti-government protesters have been attacked by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.

The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protestors are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega’s administration.

The Church in Nicaragua was quick to acknowledge the protestors’ complaints.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega’s authoritarian bent.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014. He was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

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Center for women with crisis pregancies to open in Argentina

July 19, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Buenos Aires, Argentina, Jul 19, 2018 / 03:29 pm (ACI Prensa).- Priests who work in the slums of Buenos Aires announced Tuesday a “Home of the Motherly Embrace” to care for women in crisis pregnancies.

The initiative, presented at Christ the Worker parish July 17, seeks to respond  to the needs of women who live in the slums and also is a sign of the commitment of the Church to defending the lives of the unborn and their mothers.

Besides lamenting the progress of the abortion bill which passed in the Argentine Chamber of Deputies and is now being debated in the Senate, the priests explained that the Home of the Motherly Embrace will receive teens and young adult women with at-risk pregnancies who are abandoned and who may be tempted to abort, as well as women who have procured abortions.
 
They will be provided nutrition, medical care and checkups, psychological support, and legal and social counseling during the pregnancy and their babies’ first years, until they enter the educational system.

The center will seek to facilitate access to maternity policies and programs, and, if necessary, the process of adoption.

“In a family atmosphere that welcomes, embraces and accompanies (we) will especially seek to encourage and strengthen (the women). The center will also receive and accompany teenage or young adult dads in their growing responsibilities,” the priests said in a statement.

“We choose to take on the  responsibility for these dramatic situations as a community and we’re not uncritically awaiting the establishment of an actual throwaway culture of human beings.”

The priests will carry out their work “there (in the slums) where life goes forward despite the difficulties; and every pregnancy, every girl and every boy, is awaited and welcomed as a gift, with the hope that a future different and better than the existing one awaits him or her.”

The proposal was signed by four bishops, more than 20 priests, and two nuns.

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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Latin American bishops announce day of prayer for Nicaragua

July 19, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 19, 2018 / 01:04 pm (ACI Prensa).- The Council of Latin American Bishops has expressed solidarity with the people of Nicaragua and declared Sunday, July 22, a day of prayer for the country.

The bishops of Nicaragua have also called for a day of fasting on July 20, and a month of prayer including adoration, the rosary, fasting, penance and the renewal of baptismal promises.

In a message released July 18, the bishops of Latin America and the Caribbean expressed their “closeness and solidarity with the Nicaraguan people and with their pastors, prophets of justice, in the face of the dramatic and painful social and political crisis currently experienced there.”

“In the face of this grave situation, we are called to be the voice of those who have no voice to uphold their rights, to finds ways to dialogue and establish justice and peace, ‘so that in Christ all may have life,’ especially those who feel disconsolate because of the deaths and violence.”

“We encourage you to continue to defend human rights and to be bearers of hope,” the council told the bishops of Nicaragua.

Since April 18, there have been massive demonstrations in Nicaragua against President Daniel Ortega, who has been in power since 2007 and was reelected in 2016 in elections disputed by the opposition. In January 2014, he oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits.

The demonstrations have been put down by police and paramilitaries, with more than 300 deaths.

The Catholic Church has participated as a mediator and witness to national peace talks convened by Ortega. However, Church officials have also faced attacks from groups with ties to the government.

On July 9, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, apostolic nuncio Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, and Bishop Silvio Báez were assaulted during a pastoral visit to Diriamba.

Divine Mercy parish in Managua, where more than 100 students had taken refuge, was also attacked by police and paramilitaries during the night of July 13.

The following day, pro-government mobs attacked the car of Bishop Abelardo Mata of Estelí. The bishop took refuge in a nearby house and was able to return to his diocese only after dark, with the help of Cardinal Brenes, who intervened with the government to send police commissioner Ramon Avellan to guarantee Mata’s physical safety.

The Organization of American States condemned the violence in Nicaragua July 18 and urged Ortega to hold early elections in March 2019 to alleviate the crisis. The bishops of Nicaragua made a similar request last June, but Ortega has ruled this out.

In their July 14 statement, the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference denounced “the lack of political will by the government to dialogue” and seek real processes that would lead the country to a true democracy.

Nicaragua’s crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces initially.

Anti-government protesters have been attacked by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.

The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protesters are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega’s administration.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega’s authoritarian bent.

Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

Aid to the Church in Need has launched an online global prayer campaign for Nicaragua, stressing that the nation is facing “its bloodiest crisis since the 80s.”

 

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

 

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In Nicaragua, paramilitaries attack bishop and besiege church

July 16, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 16, 2018 / 03:19 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- This weekend, paramilitaries in Nicaragua attacked a car carrying the Bishop of Esteli, and in a separate incident pro-government forces besieged students in a parish church, killing two.

Protests against president Daniel Ortega which began April 18 have resulted in more than 300 deaths, according to local human rights groups. The country’s bishops have mediated on-again, off-again peace talks between the government and opposition groups.

Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara of Esteli was attacked in his car at a police checkpoint in Nindiri, about 15 miles southeast of Managua, July 15. He was returning from saying Mass. The paramilitaries damaged the car’s tires and windows, and fired on the vehicle.

Together with his driver, Bishop Mata took shelter in a house which was surrounded by Ortega’s supporters, who verbally harassed him for 90 minutes.

He was able to leave the house through the intervention of the Archdiocese of Managua, which intervened with the government to send general commissioner Ramon Avellan to guarantee the bishop’s physical safety. Bishop Mata returned to Esteli by cover of dark.

Bishop Mata is among the mediators and witnesses in the national dialogue between the government and the opposition.

Also on Sunday, Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano of Managua lamented that “police and paramilitaries” had entered a rectory and carried off “various belongings of the parish and of Fr. Jairo Velasquez”, who was unharmed. In his statement, the cardinal reiterated a call for the government and police to desist from “the attacks against the population” and to respect “the churches and rectories and personal articles of priests, which are used in humanitarian work.”

In Managua, around 150 student protesters who took refuge in Divine Mercy parish July 13 were able to leave the following day, after an intervention by the country’s bishops.

The parish is near the National Autonomous University of Nicaragua, where the students had been protesting during a national strike. They were attacked by the paramilitaries, and sought shelter in the church building, where they were besieged. Two student protesters died in the church from fire by the paramilitaries.

The students were transferred July 14 to Managua’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral, where they received medical care.

Fr. Raul Zamora, pastor of Divine Mercy parish, and his vicar, Fr. Erick Alvarado, announced July 16 their appreciation for those who have helped to clean up the church, and said that the church will be closed through July 19. On July 20, a penitential Mass will be said “where we will implore the Mercy of God and the gift of conversion for our Nicaragua.” Normal Mass times and perpetual adoration will resume July 21.

The Nicaraguan bishops have announced a day of prayer and fasting July 20 in reparation for desecrations carried out in recent months.

In a July 14 statement, the bishops’ conference said that since it began mediation between the government and the opposition in April, “we have witnessed the government’s lack of political will to dialogue sincerely and to seek real processes that would lead us to a true democracy.”

They said Ortega’s government has refused “to address the central themes of the agenda of democratization” and to dismantle the paramilitaries.

They denounced the repression by police and paramilitaries, whose attacks “are juridically and morally condemnable” and which have the objective “of sowing terror in the people who have manifested themselves peacefully.”

Barricades and roadblocks are now found throughout Nicaragua, and clashes frequently turn lethal. Bishops and priests across the country have worked to separate protesters and security forces, and have been threatened and shot.

Nicaragua’s crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.

Anti-government protesters have been attacked by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.

The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protestors are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega’s administration.

The Church in Nicaragua was quick to acknowledge the protestors’ complaints.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega’s authoritarian bent.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

The Church has suggested that elections, which are not scheduled until 2021, be held in 2019, but Ortega has ruled this out.

Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

[…]

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Dominican bishops encourage citizens to respect life at all stages

July 13, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, Jul 13, 2018 / 03:50 pm (ACI Prensa).- The bishops’ conference of the Dominican Republic published Wednesday a statement affirming the importance for the Church of forming persons to value and respect life in all its stages.

“The bishops, conscience of the challenges facing our society, consider the integral formation of a human being to permit him to value and to respect life in all its stages a very important challenge,” reads the July 11 statement from the Dominican bishops. The nation’s episcopal conference had held a plenary assembly July 1-6.

The bishops’ focus on respect for life comes as various groups, including the Christian Alliance of the Dominican Republic, press for the decriminalization of abortion in cases of the mother’s life, fetal inviability, or rape.

Moreover, the bishops said there must be work done “so that the people do not let themselves be discouraged, because what the Church encourages is that we fight for all lives. We have reaffirmed, before science, law, and before God that no-one has the right to condemn to death an innocent, and much less an indefensible child.”

“We promote public policies, which rather than leading to death, are the foundation for defending all human rights, beginning with the first and most important: the life of all,” they exhorted.

The bishops also noted that they are anticipating the celebration of the 525th anniversary of the first known Mass to have been said in the Americas, on Epiphany in 1494.

That Mass was said during Columbus’ second voyage to the New World, on the northern coast of Hispaniola, in what is now the Dominican Republic.

“The congresses, pilgrimages, and gatherings around this festivity demonstrate to us a Church which responds to its faith, despite the great challenges which continue regarding evangelizing and revealing the face of the love of God, amid a society seduced by evil, and the boredom of the realities which it suffers.”

 

This article was originally published by our sister agency, ACI Prensa. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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Venezuelan bishops say country is going in ‘suicidal’ direction under Maduro

July 12, 2018 CNA Daily News 1

Caracas, Venezuela, Jul 12, 2018 / 01:37 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- The bishops of Venezuela issued Wednesday a scathing critique of the country’s political leadership, calling for greater respect for basic needs and rights.

Since Nicolas Maduro succeeded Hugo Chávez as president of Venezuela in 2013, the country has been marred by violence and social upheaval.

“Attitudes of arrogance, authoritarianism and abuse of power, as well as the constant violation of human rights, are accumulating on their actors a rejection that future generations will claim,” the bishops said in a July 11 statement at the close of their plenary assembly.

“It is suicidal to continue stubbornly insisting on a path of self-destruction that will turn against its promoters,” they said, stressing that the Church does not endorse acts of revenge or retaliation, “but neither does it promote impunity for crimes that threaten life and fundamental rights.”

The United Nation’s human rights office said in June that Venezuelan security forces carried out more than 500 extra-judicial killings amid purported crime-fighting efforts between July 2015 and March 2017. The report highlighted the failure of authorities to hold accountable perpetrators of serious human rights violations which include killings, the use of excessive force against demonstrators, arbitrary detentions, ill-treatment, and torture.

The bishops’ statement, “Do not be afraid, I am with you,” offers an overview of the political and humanitarian crisis plaguing the country and their reaction as pastors.

The bishops said the future of the nation is at stake, and the situation is becoming “increasingly more serious.”

Citing “monstrous hyperinflation” as a key reason for much of the country’s crisis, the bishops noted that the quality of life for the majority of Venezuelans, which was “already extremely precarious, is deteriorating day by day.”

Added to shortages in food, healthcare supplies, public services such as water and electricity, which were already a cause for serious concern, are problems with personal safety, employment, the circulation and sale of cash, and problems with public transport.

With most methods of public transport disappearing from the streets, citizens have created their own means getting around, packing themselves into overflowing truck beds or holding onto cage-looking structures on the back of large lorries, causing an increase in traffic accidents and deaths.

Poor economic policies, including strict price controls, coupled with high inflation rates, have resulted in a severe lack of basic necessities such as toilet paper, milk, flour, diapers and medicines.

Venezuela’s socialist government is widely blamed for the crisis. Since 2003, price controls on some 160 products, including cooking oil, soap and flour, have meant that while they are affordable, they fly off store shelves only to be resold on the black market at much higher rates.

In  2017, Maduro announced plans to re-write the country’s constitution, a decision that was widely opposed by citizens and the Church. Millions of people turned out to protest in the lead-up to a July 30, 2017, nation-wide election which approved a constitutional assembly to reform the country’s 1999 constitution.

In their statement, Venezuela’s bishops pointed to the ongoing political crisis the country is facing, saying the primary cause for their woes is the national government, “for putting its political project over any other consideration, including the humanitarian.”

They also criticized the government for “erroneous” financial policies, for its “contempt for productive activity and for private property and for its constant attitude of placing obstacles in the way of those who want to resolve some aspect of the current problem.”

The government is playing the victim in both internal and external ways, they said, explaining that this is “nothing more than the confession of their own inability to manage the country. One cannot pretend to resolve the situation of a failed economy with emergency measures such as food bags and bonuses.”

Elections held in May, which many Venezuelans, including the bishops, protested as illegitimate, has only cemented the current government’s hold on power, rather than leading to legal and democratic presidential elections, they said, noting that the boycott by high numbers of the population is a “silent message of rejection” toward a regime that seeks to impose “a totalitarian ideology.”

Calling Venezuela’s National Constituent Assembly “illegitimate,” the bishops said the entity violates “the most sacred rights of the Venezuelan people: the fundamental freedom to elect their own leaders in a fair electoral competition” without manipulation or favoritism.

Bishops said they live under a “de facto regime” which does not live by the constitution, and stressed the need for national leadership which puts people and ethics at the center, rather than power, control, or the pursuit of “petty interests.”

They also pointed to the growing Venezuelan diaspora throughout the world, mostly in neighboring Latin American countries, who risk trafficking and often struggle to integrate into their new countries. The Unied Nations Refugee Agency recently estimated that 5,000 Venezuelans emigrate daily.

Noting the high numbers of youth who have left, bishops said their absence is a loss of “human talent” for the country and of hope for the future.

However, the bishops stressed that  “God guides his people from slavery to freedom, but he also educates them, through trials and hardship, so that it reaches the necessary maturity as a nation.”

They urged citizens to pray, saying no prayer or sacrifice is useless, even if the result is not immediately seen.

In the midst of the crisis, the Church, they said, has en evangelic task of looking after the interests of the people.

They stressed that the Church is not a substitute for political leaders, and does not wish to “dominate the social panorama, nor to become a factor of government or opposition.”

“However, it encourages the duly educated and aware laity of their citizens’ rights and obligations to make their voices heart and to actively intervene in the political arena, so that the high principles and values that the Christian faith transmits to us can also be lived in the scope of the public and translate into works of common good.”

The bishops invited members of civil society to look for creative solutions to the crisis, urging citizens not to grow accustomed to living in “humiliating” conditions, and to be active in using every means possible to return power to the people.

Addressing the Venezuelan armed forces, bishops urged them to be faithful to their oath before God and homeland to “defend the constitution and democracy, and not to be carried away by political and ideological bias.”

They also advocated for greater solidarity on the part of parishes and ecclesial institutions in keeping with the Church’s social doctrine, despite the difficulties. The Church community, they said, is called “to promote a structural change in favor of the transformation of our society.”

“We must never be discouraged in front of the challenges of an uncertain and difficult present,” they said. “On the contrary, we place our trust in God, who gives us the strength to bear witness and to do good, and we strengthen the demands in favor of justice and freedom.”

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Bishops attacked by pro-government mob at basilica in Nicaragua

July 10, 2018 CNA Daily News 0

Managua, Nicaragua, Jul 10, 2018 / 04:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- A group of bishops in Nicaragua who went Monday to free a group of protesters who had taken refuge in a basilica the previous day were themselves assaulted by a pro-government group.

Protests against president Daniel Ortega which began April 18 have resulted in more than 300 deaths. The country’s bishops have mediated on-again, off-again peace talks between the government and opposition groups.

Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano of Managua, 69; his auxiliary, Bishop Silvio José Baez Ortega, 60; and Archbishop Waldemar Sommertag, 50, apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua, were surrounded July 9 when they tried to enter San Sebastian basilica in Diriamba, about 25 miles south of Managua.

Their route was blocked, and the pro-government groups called them murderers and liars. Among those trapped in the basilica were volunteer medics.

Bishop Baez posted a tweet showing a cut on his arm, and saying, “Besieged by an angry mob who wanted to enter the Basilica of San Sebastian in Diriamba, I was wounded, hit in the stomach, robbed of my episcopal insignia and verbally attacked. I am well, thanks be to God. The basilica was liberated, and those who were within.”

 

Asediado por una turba enardecida que quería ingresar a la Basílica San Sebastián en Diriamba, fui herido, golpeado en el estómago, me arrebataron las insignias episcopales  y agredido verbalmente. Estoy bien gracias a Dios. Se liberó la basílica y a quienes allí estaban. pic.twitter.com/9qTgugBjic

— Silvio José Báez (@silviojbaez) July 9, 2018

 

The Archdiocese of Managua called the attack committed “by persons close to the government and paramilitaries” was “condemnable and repudiable.”

The bishops were visiting Diriamba after what the Nicaraguan Centre for Human Rights reported as deadliest day in the country since the country’s unrest began more than two months ago.

The rights group said that 38 people were killed during clashes July 8. Of these, 31 were anti-government protesters, four were police officers, and three were members of pro-government groups. Most of those killed were in Diriamba and nearby Jinotepe.

The Nicaraguan bishops’ conference said the delegation of bishops was “fulfilling the mission of Jesus Christ, to be at the side of the suffering people, a pastoral visit to the priests and faithful of the Carazo department, the victims of police, paramilitaries and crowds producing death and dolour.”

Cardinal Brenes said he had “felt the brutal force” exercised against his priests. “We have gone to the parishes to console our priests, to accompany them in their suffering, and we have received aggressions.”

 

«Padre, perdónalos, porque no saben lo que hacen» (Lc 23,34). Orando en la capilla de la Catedral de Managua hoy después de ser agredidos. pic.twitter.com/NiKxORL9lh

— Silvio José Báez (@silviojbaez) July 10, 2018

 

Barricades and roadblocks are now found throughout the country, and clashes frequently turn lethal. Bishops and priests across Nicaragua have worked to separate protesters and security forces, and have been threatened and shot.

The violence in Diriamba and Jinotepe was focused on police and paramilitaries trying to clear barricades set up and manned by protesters.

Bishop Rolando José Alvarez Lagos of Matagalpa said the government efforts to clear roadblocks were made “at the price of blood and death,” and that the government has become blinded by “arrogance and pride”.

Shortly after the bishops were assaulted in Diriamba, paramilitaries and government sympathizers were profaning and sacking St James the Apostle parish in Jinotepe.

The parish showed on Facebook that it had been desecrated by “persons, paramilitaries accompanied by police forces” who were “destroying pews, tables, and medications”.

The medications had been used in part to provide medical care for those wounded in the July 8 riots in Diriamba.

The profaners threw garbage at the parish’s priests, and threatened to burn the church.

The Nicaraguan bishops’ conference has called off the working groups meant to mediate in the country’s crisis, and protesters are planning a strike July 12.

Nicaragua’s crisis began after Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests only intensified after more than 40 protestors were killed by security forces initially.

Anti-government protesters have been attacked by “combined forces” made up of regular police, riot police, paramilitaries, and pro-government vigilantes.

The Nicaraguan government has suggested that protestors are killing their own supporters so as to destabilize Ortega’s administration.

The Church in Nicaragua was quick to acknowledge the protestors’ complaints.

The pension reforms which triggered the unrest were modest, but protests quickly turned to Ortega’s authoritarian bent.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.

The Church has suggested that elections, which are not scheduled until 2021, be held in 2019, but Ortega ruled this out July 7.

Ortega was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

[…]