AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Protesters disrupt Fr. Ernesto Cardenal’s funeral mass

Wednesday, 4 March 2020 social situation   politics   area crisis   human rights   local churches   violence  


Managua (Agenzia Fides) - Followers of the ruling Sandinista Front of Nicaragua desecrated with insults, robberies and aggressions the mass in honor of the late poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal, who died on Sunday 1st March at the age of 95.
The priest and poet was named Minister of Culture during the Sandinista revolution (1979-1990), led by current president Daniel Ortega, but later he became his most heated critic and accused him of "dictator" for clinging to power after his return to government in 2007. Therefore he became one of the strongest critics of the Ortega administration, which is why the regime had orchestrated a political persecution against him in recent years. The late Pope John Paul II admonished him in public for working with the revolutionary government and imposed a "suspension on divinis," which prohibited him from exercising the priesthood and Pope Francis had accepted the request recently made by Fr. Cardenal to be readmitted to the exercise of the priestly ministry on February 17, 2019.
More than a hundred women and men in uniforms with red and black scarves (the colors of the Sandinista front) gathered in the Cathedral where the funeral was scheduled and began shouting "traitor" against the deceased and to some people present, such as the writer Gioconda Belli, in addition to beating and attacking five journalists.
What happened in the Cathedral of Managua "was very sad and a sign of disrespect Fr. Ernesto Cardenal. Once again "las turbas" (government groups) of the dictatorship show their fanaticism and violence. My solidarity with the people and journalists who have been attacked. Enough with irrationality!", are the words of the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Mgr. José Silvio Baez, sent to Fides on Twitter on seeing the videos of what happened. Despite the fact that "las turbas" have stolen the journalists' equipment for filming, short videos posted by those present were still released on social networks.
Attempts by Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, Apostolic Nuncio, to calm the screaming groups in order to be able to celebrate the funeral with due respect were unsuccessful. The mass was however celebrated, albeit often interrupted by shouts and slogans, presided over by the Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, concelebrated by the Apostolic Nuncio and by the bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, Mgr. Rolando Álvarez, who led the homily. In the face of growing tension, the poet's coffin was brought out of the church immediately after the conclusion of the mass, accompanied by the screams of the crowd. (CE) (Agenzia Fides, 4/3/2020)