Some thirty Nicaraguan priests and religious leaders sent an open letter to Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, asserting that his “silence” in the face of the regime’s persecution “screams conformity and indifference.” They urged him to “stop being a propagandist who behaves like a politician, dancing to whatever tune they play for you.”
The letter, dated December 13, 2022, was signed by “priests and religious leaders of Nicaragua, laboring clandestinely due to the harassment and vulnerability we suffer, together with God’s Holy people.”
The religious leaders asked the Cardinal to forgive them for using this means to communicate with him, explaining that the “situation” in Nicaragua makes any other means of communication difficult.”
“We simply want to communicate to you some of the impressions that we, who resist the dictatorship, have derived from your manner of responding to the current situation,” they underlined.
The letter from the priests and other religious figures noted: “Unfortunately, we see in you a lack of solidarity, not only with your brother bishops and priests currently in prison or exiled, but also with the entire community of Nicaraguans, who are suffering under the oppression of this dictatorship.”
The letter continues: “While Bishops Silvio Baez and Rolando Alvarez are paying a very high price for their prophetic posture in the face of the dictatorship, your silence screams conformity and indifference.”
“Dancing to whatever tune they play”
The regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo is holding incommunicado under house detention the Bishop of the Matagalpa diocese, Monsignor Rolando Jose Alvarez, while eight priests and two seminary students are in jail cells, all part of an uptick in repression against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. In addition, on March 6, 2022, the government expelled the Apostolic Nuncio, Waldemar Sommertag, from the country, as well as forcing 18 nuns from Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity congregation to leave Nicaragua.
The dictatorship has also closed more than a dozen radio stations and television channels that belonged to the Catholic Church; moreover, since 2018, there have been 190 documented attacks on Catholic churches and priests.
The letter highlights the contrast: “While hundreds of thousands of Nicaraguans are suffering the drama of poverty, unemployment, forced migration, unjust imprisonment, painful exile or the loss of beloved close family members, you are doing everything possible to avoid clashes with the bloody dictatorship.”
The letter exhorted Brenes to “stop being a purveyor of propaganda that behaves like a politician, dancing to whatever tune they play you, instead of being a pastor to those confronting one of the worst human rights crises that the Nicaraguan people have had to face.”
“How long will you remain silent? What hinders you from being a prophet the way you promised when you were ordained a priest, and assuming your pastoral role?” the signees questioned.
This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times