The National Police prevented this Tuesday the celebration in the streets of the patron saint festivities in honor of San Jerónimo, which is celebrated every year in the city of Masaya (Pacific), and which are the largest in Nicaragua, since they extend from September until December.
Hundreds of police officers, including members of special operations and riot police, were quartered around the San Jerónimo parish in Masaya to enforce the ban on the festivities established by the National Police and released by the Archdiocese of Managua last Saturday.
The police ban and activities in honor of Saint Jerome occur in the context of new friction between the Catholic Church and the government headed by Sandinista Daniel Ortega, who has a history of confrontations with said religious institution.
The provision affects Masaya, located 28 kilometers southwest of Managua, a former Sandinista stronghold that rebelled against the Ortega government in April 2018 in the framework of anti-government demonstrations that broke out over controversial social security reforms, and which later became a demand for the president to resign because he responded to force.
TENSE ATMOSPHERE AND FERVOR
Despite the tense atmosphere created by the police presence that surrounded the parish, hundreds of parishioners gathered at the temple to witness the traditional “descent of the Saint”, which consists of lowering the image of Saint Jerome from its altar and literally dressing it. partying.
The Catholics, who could not celebrate throughout the city, known as the “Cradle of Folklore”, showed their fervor inside the crowded temple to the rhythm of philharmonics and slogans such as ¡Viva San Jerónimo! Long live the doctor who cures without medicine! Long live the king of the mountain! Long live the priests!
A similar situation was experienced the day before, also in the city of Masaya, with the image of San Miguel Arcángel, in the parish of the same name, which served as a refuge for protesters injured during the 2018 police attacks.
Both the episcopal vicar for pastoral care of the archdiocese of Managua, Boanerges Carballo, and the parish priest of the temple, José Antonio Espinoza, thanked the faithful for “the patience, enthusiasm and enthusiasm.”
CLERGY WILL RESPECT
The clerics also insisted that they would respect the orders of the authorities not to remove the image of Saint Jerome from the parish, despite which, hundreds of faithful approached the temple as the hours passed.
In a homily in which he affirmed that “it is easy to do the will of God when everything is beautiful,” but not so much “when everything is dark,” Carballo insisted that only “those who listen to the word of God and put it into practice.
The vicar assured that Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, archbishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, asked the Catholics of Masaya that, given the impossibility of removing San Jerónimo from the temple, each one “becomes a pilgrim altar (…) so that we can let us feel brothers in joy and in pain”.
Currently at least eight clerics have been imprisoned this year in Nicaragua, among them the Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Rolando Álvarez.
This year the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has also suffered the closure of at least nine radio stations and three television stations, the expulsion from the country of the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, as well as that of 18 nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
In addition, the impediment of masses and other religious activities in the department (province) of Matagalpa.
Relations between the Sandinistas and the Nicaraguan Catholic Church have been marked by friction and mistrust in the last 43 years.
The Catholic community represents 58.5% of the 6.6 million inhabitants of Nicaragua, according to the latest national census.