“Those who persecute the Church are celebrating Christmas. How can they say they love Christ if their persecuting his church?”
HAVANA TIMES – Father Edwin Roman, parish priest of the San Miguel Church in Masaya asserts that there’s a false Christmas being celebrated in Nicaragua by those that “persecute the church”, in the context of the socio-political crisis that Nicaragua has been suffering since the massacre perpetrated by Daniel Ortega’s government against citizen protesters during the Abril 2018 rebellion.
“Those who are persecuting the Church are going to celebrate a false Christmas…. How can they say they love Christ if they’re persecuting his mystic bodies? So, the atheists are also going to celebrate Christmas, but it’s a false Christmas,” stated the priest. Father Roman has earned respect in Nicaragua for the support he’s given to the victims of a bloody crisis that has continued for the past 20 months.
The priest made this reference to the government of Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, who ordered the streets decorated with Christmas motifs and who insists that the model of government they follow is “Christian”.
The religious leadership has asserted that the Catholic Church has been under persecution in Nicaragua since the social explosion against Ortega in April 2018. The majority of its priests have helped save the lives of thousands of people facing armed attacks from the government, aimed at those identified as opposition demonstrators.
Those who continue to defend the Ortega regime have called the church leaders “coup plotters”, and have on occasion physically assaulted bishops and priests or profaned their churches.
The most recent case occurred this past weekend in the parish of a rural community of Rio Blanco in the north, where supposedly Sandinista-affiliated groups painted the walls of the church with threatening messages. However, instead of provoking fear, the graffiti was cause for mockery as a result of the poor spelling used by the Ortega followers.
Father Roman himself complained that, by government order, his parish church, San Miguel Archangel in Masaya, continues to have the electricity service shut off.
“In what way are they celebrating a false and deceptive Christmas? Because they’re persecuting the mystic bodies of Christ in the Church,” he explained.
Roman became known in 2018 for saving the lives of dozens of demonstrators during the government’s armed attacks on the city of Masaya, a city that had declared itself “territory free of dictatorship” in reference to the Ortega government.
The San Miguel Archangel parish was converted into an improvised hospital for the wounded protesters who weren’t accepted for attention in the state health system.
Last November, Roman, together with some ten women who had declared themselves on a hunger strike for the freedom of the political prisoners, were trapped in the church for nine days by a police cordon without access to water, electricity, or humanitarian aid. The resulting situation caused the priest to suffer two fainting spells, since he’s a diabetic and was denied access to his medication.
The criticisms issued by Roman came within the context of a crisis unseen since that of the 80s when Ortega was also president.
The Inter-American Commission for Human Rights, as well as the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights and the European Parliament, concluded that the Ortega government was responsible for extrajudicial executions, tortures and sexual assaults, among other “crimes against humanity”.