Managua, Nicaragua, Feb 3, 2021 / 02:11 pm (CNA).- The Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, celebrated Mass Jan. 31 to commemorate six months since the attack that destroyed part of the chapel of the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, where the crucifix known as “the Blood of Christ” was kept.
On July 31, 2020, an unknown person entered the Chapel of the Blood of Christ and launched an incendiary bomb that severely damaged the premises and a 382-year-old image of the Blood of Christ, a depiction of Jesus Christ crucified.
As soon as the attack occurred, the cardinal said that the bombing was “a totally reprehensible act of desecration, so we must remain in constant prayer to defeat the evil forces.”
In his homily on Jan. 31, the cardinal said that “faith in Jesus Christ cannot be destroyed with this type of offence, because He is engraved in the heart of every human being.”
“We remember with great sadness that regrettable attack against the precious and consecrated crucifix of the Blood of Christ. However, the Holy Father said on Wednesday referring to the Word: ‘Someone can throw the entire Bible into fire and yet the Word is not going to be lost and it can be written again, because that word was recorded in the heart,” he said.
Cardinal Brenes also said that “the person or persons who planned the attack … thought that by destroying our venerated and consecrated image, faith in Jesus Christ was going to be lost.”
“But our faith in Jesus Christ, that we strengthen through images, is engraved in the depths of the heart; and what is engraved in the heart, nothing and no one can take away, nothing and no one can steal,” he stressed.
The cardinal also announced that with the support of a technical restoration institute from the Archdiocese of Santiago de Guatemala the crucifix will be restored.
Finally, Cardinal Brenes called on the faithful “to continue praying so that we can soon have the venerated crucifix in good condition,” because “it has greatly helped bringing Nicaraguans closer to Jesus Christ for centuries.”
The attack on the cathedral comes amid tensions between some Catholics and supporters of President Daniel Ortega, who previously led the country for over a decade after the Sandinistas’ 1979 ouster of the Somoza dictatorship. Ortega has again been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.
Ortega’s government has accused many bishops and priests of siding with his opposition.
Backers of Ortega have led actions against some churches, including Managua’s cathedral when critics of Ortega took refuge there.
Ortega’s wife, Rosario Murillo, is also vice president.
In reaction to the fire, she suggested, without evidence, that candles were to blame, as were people who placed candles too close to religious images. She did not condemn the attack on the church. She said she would wait for the opinion of police experts on the causes of the fire.
The Archdiocese of Managua expressed concern over new threats to freedom and personal safety in the country in October 2020, and urged the country’s board of elections “to guarantee free elections” in 2021.
Nicaragua’s crisis began in April 2018 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.