Francis abandons the faithful to their executioners

The words pronounced yesterday by the Pope at the Angelus on the situation in Nicaragua - the first in 4 years of persecution - are gravely inadequate and congruent with the attitude towards all communist regimes, not only those in Latin America. But the real problem is to bend the presence and intervention of the Church to political logic.

"I follow closely with concern and pain the situation created in Nicaragua involving people and institutions. I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through an open and sincere dialogue, the foundations for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can still be found". Finally, the long-awaited and long-invoked words of Pope Francis on Nicaragua came at the close of the Angelus on August 21, but in a way that leaves unanswered the questions raised by the long and shameful silence on the terrible persecution suffered by the Church in Nicaragua.

Not only is there no mention of the recent dramatic escalation with the "kidnapping" of the bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, and the other 8 priests and civilians who were with him in the offices of the diocese, which occurred on August 19 by decision of the Ortega-Murillo regime. Not even mentioned is the context, which is that of a fierce persecution against the Church, which has been going on since at least 2018. With a balance that yesterday summarized the pro-Vatican website Il Sismografo: after the exile to which the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Baez, was forced in 2019 (which we will talk about later), "other very serious events have occurred: the expulsion of the Apostolic Nuncio, Msgr. Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, leaving the Central American country without a papal representative; the closing of Catholic television and radio stations; the expulsion of the sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who took refuge in neighboring Costa Rica; the imprisonment of priests and catechists without just cause; the arbitrary detention of hundreds of people, many still in jail; as well as the death of dozens and dozens of Nicaraguans during the street demonstrations of the last four years; and finally, for two weeks, the crisis in which the bishop of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of Esteli, Msgr. Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, was under house arrest in the curia after days of police siege".

In all this time not a single word from the Pope, while from the Vatican there was only a communiqué to express "great surprise and regret" for the expulsion of the apostolic nuncio who, in addition, had distinguished himself for having tried to mediate with Ortega. Meanwhile, there have been numerous public statements condemning the Sandinista regime and expressing solidarity with Nicaraguan Catholics, from the UN to the Organization of American States, to CELAM (the Latin American bishops).

In the face of all this, to speak - as the Pope did at the Angelus - of a "situation that involves people and institutions" in the hope of "an open and sincere dialogue" to rediscover "a respectful and peaceful coexistence" sounds inadequate to say the least. These are generic words that can at most be used in situations of civil war or in any case of conflict between two parties fighting each other; but what do they have to do with a situation of persecution in which it is a fierce regime that crushes freedom and denies the human rights of its citizens? And even more so when it is Catholics who are the first to be persecuted and prevented from living their faith?

The impression is that the intervention at the Angelus was somewhat forced by the precipitousness of the situation (the UN Secretary General himself intervened on August 20 to condemn the persecution of the Church), but since he could not do without it, he opted for the most inoffensive words possible towards the Sandinista regime.

It is inevitable to ask why this attitude that shames the whole Church. And in this sense, one cannot fail to point out that the Pope has a strong sympathy for communist regimes, especially those in South America, which leads him to justify practically everything and also to support them. In the case of Nicaragua let us remember that in 2019 it was he who made Monsignor Baez leave at the "invitation" of Ortega: he promised Baez a place in the Vatican, but instead left him in Miami to take care of his emigrant compatriots.

In any case, this sympathy was also expressed for Evo Morales' Bolivia, Maduro's Venezuela and Castro's Cuba (on the latter, he was the one who recently pronounced himself). And outside Latin America, the case of the People's Republic of China, which we have already discussed many times, not to mention the way of dealing with the various U.S. administrations, is a resounding one.

The real problem, however, is not the sympathy or harmony with political ideologies of one sign or another, but the fact that politics and not faith becomes the criterion for the intervention of the Holy See; that the modality of the Church's presence is the alignment in a worldly contest. If the yardstick becomes political expediency, even ecclesial expediency, the Church loses her identity and her ability to point the way to salvation, which in any case is the only real task she has. It is not surprising, then, that many Catholic communities have abandoned their executioners, that there is intolerance towards communities and persons who do not fear martyrdom in order to bear witness to their fidelity to Christ and to the Church, and that there is indifference towards the sacraments (it is opportune to recall the recent story of Nancy Pelosi in San Pietro).

To ask for an adequate intervention on the situation in Nicaragua is more than legitimate, but more important is to remember the true mission of the Church, which rises above the potentates of this world.