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Nicaragua: Nuncio Appeals for Peace in Pope’s Name

Three-month Reign of Violence Claims Hundreds of Lives

Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, Apostolic Nuncio in Nicaragua, appealed July 17, 2018, for peace in the beleaguered country where more than 360 have died in violence in the past three months.

“I wish to express, on behalf of the Holy Father and the Holy See, my deep concern for the grave situation the country is facing. Obviously, it is unacceptable to think that the dead and victims of violence can solve the political crisis and guarantee a future of peace and prosperity in Nicaragua,” he was quoted in Vatican News.

Archbishop Sommertag and the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Jose Silvio Baez were assaulted on July 9, 2018, by pro-government paramilitaries, according to Vatican News.

The attack happened when the bishops, priests and a delegation of journalists arrived outside the San Sebastian Basilica in Diriamba, south of the Nicaraguan capital to help anti-government protesters trapped inside the besieged church. The Catholic Church in Nicaragua has strongly condemned the attack.

Bishop Silvio Jose Baez was punched in the stomach, sustained an injury to his arm and his pectoral cross was snatched from him during the melee. One of the priests accompanying the Bishops had his cell-phone stolen from him and some of the journalists were also punched and shoved and had their equipment stolen. A message posted afterward by the Nicaraguan Catholic Bishops conference condemned the violence and reiterated that the Bishops were standing on the side of the suffering people in the nation.

Since violent demonstrations erupted in April, more than 250 people have been killed.  The Catholic Bishops have asked that the next national election, scheduled for 2021, be held sooner.  President Daniel Ortega has rejected that appeal.

Pope Francis on July 1, 2018, encouraged the efforts for peace in Nicaragua in his comments following the praying of the noonday Angelus in St. Peter’s Square.

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