Nicaragua: The Example of Father Edwin Roman

Because all you did for one of the meek, you did for me.   Illustration by PxMolina

Jesus Christ expects a church that demonstrates being on the side of the unprotected, that doesn’t fear criticism, that recognizes its sins.

By Edgar Tijerino  (Confidencial)

HAVANA TIMES – The footsteps traced by Father Edwin Roman in Masaya, Nicaragua have been preserved forever in the marble of our enduring memories.

Amid the laments of the mothers imploring the heavens for their unjustly imprisoned children, the figure of Edwin Roman rises, grown gigantic as a source of motivation. The young people are victims of a regime that utilizes an unbridled and unscrupulous repression as a desperate measure, despite realizing that it’s not working for them.

The priest is one of those great pillars that the Church has proportioned this indominable resistance, as has been Monsignor Silvio Baez; Monsignor Rolando Alvarez; Father Jose Idiaquez, rector of the Central American University; Monsignor Abelardo Mata; Father Harving Padilla; Monsignor Jorge Solorzao; Father Rodolfo Lopez, and so many others in different parishes.

These religious figures seem to multiply like loaves and fishes, following in the footsteps of Jesus Christ, that great combatant of injustices, tyrannies, and corruption, defender of the interests of a subjected people who can do nothing in the face of arbitrary rule.

That Jesus Christ who was taken out of the temple by the Pharisees at the service of the Herod court, who abuse power without a chance to wash their hands of their actions as Pilates did.

Whose side would Jesus Christ be on, in this struggle?  It’s an unnecessary question since the reply is so obvious.

Nearly a year ago, I was in the Managua Cathedral at a talk from Monsignor Alvarez, in which he discussed what is expected of the Church. Going over the notes I never fail to take, this phrase stands out:

“The Church that Jesus Christ doesn’t want, is a Church that doesn’t criticize the unjust, that rubs elbows with the powerful, that abandons the weak, that shows fear.  Jesus Christ doesn’t accept a corrupt Church that influences power, that negotiates or makes pacts, that holds closed-door sessions, that doesn’t lift its voice, that doesn’t assume its commitments to the common people. Jesus Christ expects a Church that demonstrates with its attitudes that it’s on the side of the unprotected; that it’s capable of denouncing the anomalies that others commit, as well as their own anomalies; that isn’t afraid of criticism; that recognizes its sins…”

The ovation for this speech was as long as the hopes of all those present, and Father Edwin Roman has been walking the path of sacrifice, in the spirit of those phrases.

It’s the same path traced by Monsignor Arnulfo Romero, and the Jesuits who were brutally murdered in El Salvador; it’s the path of Father Luis Maria Ugalde in Venezuela, and of so many other combatants in a cassock, capable of taking all risks to fulfill their commitment.

Luckily for our rebellious youth and beyond the prevailing repression, there are many priests being multiplied at the edges of this effort unleashed with Spartan firmness.  It was the presence of Father Edwin Roman and his disposition in the San Miguel Church that strengthened those mothers who’ve witnessed the struggle of their children to shape a different country.

A mass of kids extends unstoppably through the high school and university classrooms. The attitudes of all these priests, pillars of the patriotic resistance as great motivators, responds to the challenges traced by Monsignor Alvarez in the Managua Cathedral that morning.  It’s the Church’s punch to the jaw of those who – even while abusing power and applying a disproportionate repression – don’t cause them to fear. 



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