The patron saint festivities in honor of San Jerónimo in the city of Masaya (Pacific), and which are the largest in Nicaragua, were held this Friday amid friction between the Government of Daniel Ortega and the Catholic Church and without the image coming out to the streets.
The traditional celebration in honor of San Jerónimo in Masaya, which is usually massive, was marked today by the presence of hundreds of police officers, including members of special operations and riot police, who quartered around the parish that houses the image of the saint. , as found by Eph.
The National Police, led by Francisco Díaz, President Ortega’s brother-in-law, prohibited the processions in honor of San Jerónimo, patron saint of the city, known as the “Cradle of Folklore”, alleging reasons of public security.
Masaya, located 28 kilometers southwest of the capital, is a former Sandinista stronghold that rebelled against the government of President Ortega in April 2018 in the framework of anti-government demonstrations that broke out over controversial social security reforms, and that then they became a demand for the president to resign because he responded to force.
The Catholics approached the San Jerónimo parish this Friday, although in a smaller number than on the 20th, when the image of the revered Catholic was dressed, literally, for the festivities, and was also surrounded and guarded by hundreds of police .
During today’s homily, Father Bismark Conde quoted passages from the life of Saint Jerome, and stressed that he lived in ignorance, until he “found the truth in reading the word of God.”
Conde, like the parish priest José Antonio Espinoza, also expressed their support for Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, who suspended his visit to Masaya for being at the funeral of his mother, Lilliam Solórzano.
DIOCESE AVOIDED CONFRONTATION
As the Archdiocese of Managua had requested, the Catholic faithful did not extend the celebration beyond the interior of the Masaya temple, to avoid confrontations with the National Police.
The priests of Masaya congratulated the believers for their participation in the celebration, “but also for their obedience to the Church”, and insisted that the faithful bring their prayers and their faith “from their homes”, in the face of police restrictions.
These restrictions did not apply to the so-called “pagan” celebrations in commemoration of Saint Jerome, among these the “bullfights”, in which a group of these animals are released in the middle of the crowd, with results that are sometimes bloody. and the equestrian or horse parade.
Despite the restrictions, the Catholic believers of Masaya approached the parish of San Jerónimo, even dancing to the sound of philharmonics regardless of the presence of the police, who did not react.
The dances in the streets surrounding the temple were accompanied by slogans such as: Long live San Jerónimo doctor! Long live our Patron Saint! Long live Saint Michael the Archangel! Long live the Church!, or Christ yesterday, Christ today, Christ forever!
CHURCH-STATE: A TROUBLED YEAR
Two days ago, Ortega, a former Marxist guerrilla who now defines himself as a Catholic, attacked the Catholic Church led by Pope Francis, accusing it of not practicing democracy, and of being a “dictatorship” and a “perfect tyranny.”
The suspension of Catholic processions is part of the most recent chapters of a particularly convulsive last year for the Catholic Church of Nicaragua with the Government of Ortega, who has branded the leaders as “coup plotters” and “terrorists.”
This year, the Sandinista government expelled from the country the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag and 18 nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
It also keeps eight priests under arrest, including Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who was abducted by police agents early on Friday, August 19, along with four other priests, two seminarians and a cameraman from the Episcopal Palace of the Diocese of Matagalpa, after have been confined for 15 days.
In addition, the Executive closed nine Catholic radio stations and removed three Catholic channels from subscription television programming, among others.
Relations between the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan Catholic Church have been marked by friction and mistrust in the last 43 years.