Nicaraguan Sandinista Leader Asks Church For Forgiveness

The Holy See Is Informed about the Request

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MANAGUA, JULY 23, 2003 ( The Holy See has been informed of Sandinista leader Daniel Ortega’s request for forgiveness for the «errors» committed by his government (1979-1990) with the Catholic Church, a religious source stated yesterday.

During the commemoration of the 24th anniversary of the triumph of the «Sandinista Popular Revolution,» Ortega said that in a meeting with Nicaraguan Cardinal Miguel Obando last Saturday, prior to the celebration, he requested forgiveness for the errors of his government.

Ortega admitted that in the 80s there was acute tension with and antagonism toward the Catholic Church, which he said would not be repeated if the Sandinista Front of National Liberation (SFNL) returns to power following the 2006 elections.

The regime headed by Ortega expelled 18 priests, including one bishop. The most intense moment was experienced during John Paul II’s first visit to Managua in 1983, when Sandinista militants tried to boycott the Mass.

Several times during the Mass, the Pope had to ask the group that interrupted his homily for silence.

Monsignor Francisco Cesar Garcia Magan, in charge of affairs at the Apostolic Nunciature of Managua, told the EFE agency that the forgiveness Ortega has requested for his regime «has been communicated to the Holy See.»

Monsignor added that it was not a question of the Nunciature requesting «forgiveness for Ortega and his government, or that the Holy See will pronounce itself in this respect, but that we have reported Ortega’s request.»

«It is a very positive thing, if an important political reality (in Nicaragua), such as the SFNL, carries out that exercise of purification and recognizes the errors when reviewing its history. This is a healthy exercise of purification of the memory,» the monsignor added.

The SFNL is not «using» the Nicaraguan Catholic hierarchy with its sights set on the next elections, because «if a person or institution offers a gesture or a word, it must be assumed that it arises out of sincerity and veracity,» Monsignor Garcia Magan continued.

«When Peter asked Jesus: Master, how many times must a forgive my brother. Jesus said to him seventy times seven,» Monsignor recalled, adding that «if we proclaim the mercy of God and we experience that mercy of God, we must also be witnesses of that mercy and God always gives to each one, in personal matters, a second and third opportunity.»

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