Managua, Nicaragua, Jan 4, 2020 / 05:53 am (CNA).- As political tensions continue in Nicaragua, the archbishop of Managua stressed that for peace to be achieved, people need to look past their differences and foster dialogue without exclusion or manipulation.
“Only by choosing the path of respect will it be possible to break the spiral of vengeance,” said Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes on the World Day of Peace, celebrated Jan. 1.
“Peace as the object of our hope is a precious good to which all humanity aspires,” he said.
“War often begins because of intolerance of other people's diversity, which foments the desire to possess and the will to dominate,” Brenes stressed, adding that war “is born in the heart of man because of egoism and pride, because of hatred that incites people to destroy, to frame others in a negative image, to exclude them or eliminate them.”
War feeds on broken relationships, abuse of power and ambitions, and fear of others and their differences, he said.
The cardinal said that peace is only achieved by a change in the human heart, which leads to a political willingness to reconcile and unite people and communities.
“The world doesn't need empty words, but convinced witnesses, artisans of peace, open to dialogue without exclusion or manipulation,” he said.
Cardinal Brenes’ comments come amid continued heated protests against the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega.
Anti-government protests in the country began in April 2018. The crackdown from security forces and pro-government militias resulted in more than 320 deaths that year, with 2,000 injured and tens of thousands fleeing the country as refugees.
Modest pension reforms triggered the unrest but protests quickly turned to objections to what critics said was Ortega’s authoritarian bent.
Ortega, who previously led the country for over a decade after the Sandinistas’ 1979 ouster of the Somoza dictatorship, has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014.
The Catholic Church has served as a mediator in on-again, off-again talks between the government and opposition leaders. Church leaders had suggested that the elections scheduled for 2021 be held in 2019, but Ortega rejected the idea.
Ortega’s government has accused many bishops and priests of supporting the opposition. The president’s backers have said that a demand for the president to leave office early and to hold early elections are tantamount to a coup attempt. Some have labeled the protesters as terrorists, the Associated Press reports.
Rosario Murillo, Nicaragua’s vice president and Ortega’s wife, criticized “those who claim to speak in the name of the faith,” calling them “repugnant wolves who spread hatred.”
Since the protests began, there has been a series of attacks against clergy, churches and church facilities targeted by pro-government bands.