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ROME – Celebrating the Immaculate Conception of Mary on Tuesday, Nicaraguan Bishop Silvio Baez, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, exhorted the faithful to ask the Virgin for help and clemency for the reconstruction of the country, and to continue working for justice.
“Let us ask today the Virgin, sublime icon of God’s love that has conquered sin, to console with her maternal love those who suffer and help us to rebuild our country in justice and freedom,” he said from Miami, where he has been living in exile since 2019, due to a series of death threats against him and his family.
“The historical moment that our people are living is also deprived of beauty. Because when violence, injustice and oppression are imposed, when human rights and people’s freedom are not respected, the beauty of life and history vanishes, leaving us locked in a world of ugliness, sadness and death,” said the bishop.
“Beauty spiritualizes us, awakens the best in us, captivates us, makes us transcend the merely material and makes us enter the world of gratuitousness and contemplation,” said Baez, arguing that when indifference, selfishness and envy take hold of the heart, the beauty of God in us is destroyed.
“Unfortunately, many people live deprived of beauty. Because where sin breaks the dialogue with God and distances us from love, beauty disappears. Where indifference, selfishness and envy take hold of the heart, God’s beauty in us is destroyed. We need to beautify the life and history of our people with the beauty of goodness and compassion, of truth and justice ” the bishop continued.
Seeing the lack of measures taken by the government to try to stop the spread of COVID-19, the Nicaraguan bishops called on families to celebrate these Marian dates in a solemn atmosphere and avoiding crowds. However, the government has promoted public activities and events where social distance was not respected.
Bishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa had asked the faithful this weekend to celebrate the feast day in a family atmosphere, as was the case last year.
“There were families who dedicated everything to visit an old people’s home, to distribute food in the streets to the poorest and neediest people, others to distribute in the poorest suburbs, basic grains, many beautiful and wonderful gestures happened last year, let’s do exactly the same this year; because the virus continues and we have to contribute our mustard seed to stop this terrible contagion,” he said.
Alvarez also took aim at the government in his homily, calling for an independent justice system that “as one of the pillars of society guarantees freedom and the distribution of wealth in such a way as to ensure equal opportunities.”
“In this sense, the possibility of economic and social development depends on how the public institutions that organize society are structured, including independent, autonomous and impartial justice, without which the community lacks a true direction, a fundamental aspect of justice in a state governed by the rule of law,” he said.
His words come as the families of the more than 160 political prisoners of Nicaragua have asked the papal representative in the country, Polish Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, to intervene in their favor.
“It lies in the general principle that all actions of the State must be calculable and foreseeable, legal certainty can only exist there where citizens know exactly what the state can do and what the state cannot do,” Alvarez said.
A Griteria in the presidential home
After spending the past three years verbally attacking the Catholic clergy, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, hosted their family in their home to celebrate the eve of the Marian feast of the Immaculate Conception, known locally as “La Griteria.”
🚨📷 Luego de atacar a la Iglesia Católica, los dictadores Ortega-Murillo celebran en su búnker en el Carmen, la tradicional Gritería con solo su familia. pic.twitter.com/FrjOZnYkSd
— NicaraguaActual (@NicaraguaActual) December 8, 2021
Ortega describes himself as “Christian” and for years now, at the order of Murillo, the city of Managua, the country’s capital, has been setting up “altars” with the image of the Virgin Mary. Once upon a time, he and his wife would be seen praying at several of them and greeting the faithful. However, for the past three years, they have remained in the presidential residence, often described as a “heavily guarded and armed bunker.”
The presidential couple is rarely seen outside their home, or in public. The image of the Ortega family celebrating Dec. 7 was the first photograph of them released in 29 days. The previous one was when they won the presidential election, which was condemned as unfair by the international community, since the regime arrested seven opposition candidates.