By Ivette Munguia (Confidencial)
HAVANA TIMES – An unidentified person threw a petrol bomb into the Blood of Christ chapel at the Metropolitan Cathedral of Managua. The subsequent fire caused serious material damage, including the destruction of an image that was 382 years old.
Sister Aracely Guzman, the administrator of the Cathedral confirmed the attack. She was on the grounds of the Cathedral when the incident occurred on July 31 at 11 in the morning.
According to witnesses the man who came into the Cathedral wore a loose light blue shirt, under which the explosive was hidden. He asked for the precise location of the Blood of Christ Chapel and went off in that direction. Minutes later the chapel was in flames.
“A bomb was thrown at the statue of the Blood of Christ which totally destroyed it”, said the Sister. “The fire destroyed the sanctuary with the body of Our Lord (the host), the image of the Blood of Christ and the whole chapel”, the nun declared.
Brenes: “an act of terrorism”
Cardenal Leopoldo Brenes was very sad about the loss of the image of the Blood of Christ, calling it “an act of terrorism” against the Catholic Church. He explained that the fire “was planned”. He rejected the version given by Vice President Rosario Murillo: that a votive candle might have started the fire.
“It’s a reprehensible action, and the people I work with say the same. I want to say that this action was planned, carefully planned by the person who did it”, said Brenes. “According to what some witnesses, laypeople, told me, the person (who threw the explosive) spent some 20 minutes walking round the Cathedral, and then he threw the artifact. He had planned it, even his escape route,” said the Cardenal, with emphasis.
Not long ago some of the fence railings of the Cathedral were stolen. This morning, the assailant made his escape through the space left by the missing railings.
“He calculated everything: how to get in, how to throw the bomb, and how to get away. It’s clear that the whole thing was well planned, I want to make that very clear, because I know there might well be some speculation about candles or votive candles (being the cause),” said Brenes.
The Cardenal went on to say that to protect it, measures had been taken by the Church: for decades no candles have been placed near the image of the Blood of Christ, nor of any other religious art that is more than 50 years old.
“I would like you (the media) to make it clear that this was an act of terrorism, a fire started by a powerful explosive,” added the Cardenal.
They Church demands an investigation
The attack on Managua Cathedral has been condemned by various civic organizations. These organizations have expressed their solidarity with the Catholic Church and have demanded that Nicaraguan authorities investigate this case and punish the culprits.
Vilma Nunez, president of the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh), warned whoever did the attack that “They are touching one of the things most sacred to the people, one of their deepest feelings. Not only that, but freedom of religion is a human right. If the authorities do not proceed immediately, they will be considered the responsible party. We cannot go on waiting for answers that never come, we have to move on this.”
For its part, the Blue and White for National Unity movement condemned the occurrence, saying, “Apart from the attacks being targeted, what has happened shows how great the insecurity is in Nicaragua.
Evidence shows that the attacks are being carried out by supports of the criminal dictator Daniel Ortega, who has a permanent political campaign against the priests and the Catholic Church.”
Likewise, Movement for Sandinista Renovation (MRS) stated that the attack “constitutes a flagrant violation of the freedom of religion, enshrined in the Nicaraguan Constitution”. This party demanded “full respect for religious freedom, also for the safety of priests and bishops, and for the churches themselves”.
Desecration of the churches
The attack against the Cathedral of Managua took place two days after unknown persons damaged the chapel of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Nindiri.
On that occasion, the Archdiocese of Managua explained in a statement that unidentified persons had taken the pyx and the custody of the holy sacraments, but they also broke religious depictions and statues, profaned the sacristy, stamped on the hosts, broke pews, damaged furniture and wiring and to top it all off, smeared the place with excrement”.
Previously, in November of 2019, the Managua Cathedral was profaned by Daniel Ortega’s paramilitaries and shock forces. On that occasion a priest and a nun were attacked. Then, in March of 2020, Sandinista militants took over the Cathedral during the funeral of priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal.