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Nicaragua’s tyrant, Daniel Ortega, lashed out Wednesday against the Catholic Church, which he accused of not practicing democracy, and of being a “dictatorship” and a “perfect tyranny.”
During a ceremony on the occasion of the 43rd anniversary of the National Police and broadcast on radio and television, Ortega also accused the Catholic Church led by Pope Francis of having used “its bishops in Nicaragua to stage a coup d’état” against his regime in the context of the demonstrations that erupted in April 2018 over controversial social security reforms.
“Since when are priests to stage a coup d’état and since when do they have the authority to talk about democracy?” the Sandinista leader questioned.
“Who elects the priests, the bishops, the pope, the cardinals, how many votes, who gives them?” he continued.
Ortega said that if the Catholic Church wants to talk about democracy, it should start “by electing with the vote of the Catholics the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, the priests, otherwise everything is imposed, it is a dictatorship, the perfect dictatorship, it is a tyranny, the perfect tyranny.”
For the former Marxist guerrilla fighter, who now defines himself as a Catholic, the Catholic Church has no authority to speak of democracy, because “the bishops are appointed by hand from someone who has not been elected by the people, but by a group of cardinals”.
“I would say to his holiness, the pope, with all due respect, to the authorities of the Catholic Church, I am a Catholic, that as a Catholic I do not feel represented and I do not feel represented by all that we know of that terrible history, but also by the fact that we hear him talk about democracy and they do not practice democracy,” he alleged.
In Ortega’s opinion, “it would be a revolution if the Pope were elected by the Catholic people of the world”.
Likewise, the Sandinista leader again branded “coup plotters” “some bishops” of Nicaragua and accused them of covering up for a “gang of assassins” who, he said, tried to overthrow and assassinate him in the context of the demonstrations four years ago, in which his resignation was requested for responding with force.
According to the president, “some priests, some bishops, called people to give me lead (bullets), what were they waiting for to kill me”, although he did not offer proof.
In other words, he added, it was “a gang of assassins undercover with the Catholic Church” in Nicaragua.
The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, Silvio Báez, called Ortega a liar and cynical for his accusations against the Catholic Church and Nicaraguan religion.
“How much ignorance, how much lying, and how much cynicism! A dictator giving lessons on democracy; someone who illegitimately exercises power, criticizing the authority that Jesus granted to his Church; someone who is an atheist, lamenting that he does not feel represented by the Church,” wrote in a tweet the bishop, who has been out of the country for 41 months by decision of Pope Francis for security reasons.
Wednesday’s speech by the Sandinista leader is the latest chapter in a particularly turbulent last year for the Catholic Church in Nicaragua with the Ortega regime, which has branded religious as “coup plotters” and “terrorists.”
This year, the Sandinista government expelled from the country the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag and 18 nuns of the Missionaries of Charity order, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
Eight priests are also under arrest, including Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who was taken by police agents early Friday morning, August 19, along with four other priests, two seminarians, and a cameraman from the bishop’s palace in the diocese of Matagalpa, after having been confined for 15 days.
In addition, the Executive closed nine Catholic radio stations and removed three Catholic channels from subscription television programming.
The National Police, led by Francisco Díaz, Ortega’s father-in-law, also entered by force and raided a parish, preventing parishioners from receiving the Eucharist inside the church and besieging other priests in their churches, prohibiting processions with images of saints, among others.
Despite all this, Pope Francis has not pronounced himself on the constant violations of human rights in Nicaragua, nor has he asked for the release of Catholic leaders in the country.