Pope Francis on June 3, 2018, called for an end to violence in Nicaragua, where protests against the government of President Daniel Ortega and his proposed social security changes have claimed 15 lives in the past week — and more than 110 since protests started in April.
The Holy Father’s comments came after praying the noonday Angelus in St. Peter’s square with a crowd of pilgrims estimated by Vatican Police at 15,000.
On June 2, police laid siege to a Catholic church in Masaya, some 20km south of the capital Managua, after around 30 opposition supporters sought refuge there, reported Vatican News. They had been attacked by riot police and pro-government militias. Two people died in the church before local Church authorities intervened and those holed up there were released.
“I join my Brother Bishops of Nicaragua in expressing grief for the grave violence, with dead and wounded, carried out by armed groups to suppress social protests,” Pope Francis said. “I pray for the victims and their families. The Church is always for dialogue, but this requires active commitment to respect freedom and, first of all, life. I pray that all violence may cease and that conditions may be ensured for taking up dialogue again as soon as possible.”