VATICAN CITY – In off-the-cuff comments after the Angelus Sunday, Pope Francis denounced violence against protestors by armed groups in Nicaragua and prayed for the country’s victims and their families.
“I join my brother bishops of Nicaragua in expressing sorrow for the serious violence, with dead and wounded, carried out by armed groups to repress social protests,” the pope said June 3.
“I pray for the victims and their families. The Church is always for dialogue, but this requires an active commitment to respect freedom and above all life. I pray that all violence should cease and the conditions for the resumption of dialogue [come] as soon as possible.”
Francis spoke just one week after a mortar attack was carried out on a Jesuit university in Nicaragua. Resulting in no deaths or injuries, the attack was condemned by the university’s rector, Father José Alberto Idiáquez, as “cowardly.”
On May 27, three masked people fired mortar at two guards standing at the main gate of the University of Central America, located in the country’s capital of Managua.
The attack was the latest in a spate of violence and civil unrest in the country, which began April 18 after President Daniel Ortega announced social security and pension reforms. The changes were soon abandoned in the face of widespread, vocal opposition, but protests have only intensified after more than 40 protesters were killed by security forces.
Before praying the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square, Francis reflected on the day’s Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, also called Corpus Christi, a feast day which is “a mystery of attraction to Christ and of transformation in him,” he said.
The Eucharist, Francis explained, “is a school of concrete love, patient and sacrificed, like Jesus on the cross. It teaches us to become more welcoming and available to those in search of understanding, help, encouragement, and who are marginalized and alone.”
Christ’s presence in the Eucharist is like a door: “an open door between the temple and the road, between faith and history, between the city of God and the city of man,” he continued.
Nourished by the Body and Blood of Christ, Catholics are also conformed to him, receiving his love, the pope said, though not with jealousy, which wants to keep Christ for one’s self, but with generous love, sharing with others. This is the logic of the Eucharist.
He explained that when Catholics contemplate Jesus, “broken and given in bread [and] blood shed for our salvation,” Christ’s presence “burns the selfish attitudes in us, purifies us from the tendency to give only when we have received, and ignites the desire to make us too, in union with Jesus, broken bread and blood shed for our brothers.”
Francis referenced the popular Eucharistic piety of processing through a neighborhood or city with the Blessed Sacrament, calling it “an eloquent sign that Jesus, dead and risen, continues to walk the paths of the world.”
Noting that he will process with the Eucharist following Mass Sunday evening in Ostia, a town just outside Rome, he invited Catholics everywhere to participate in the Eucharistic procession, whether physically, or spiritually.