Nicaraguan bishop reiterates calls for dialogue

Nicaraguan bishop reiterates calls for dialogue Bishop Silvio Jose Baez

Bishop Silvio Jose Baez has reiterated his calls for dialogue and respecting human dignity in Nicaragua, where the president has crushed protests, closed critical media outlets and persecuted anyone – including priests – publicly opposing his administration.

“Dialogue is not a fad or simple political strategy,” Bishop Baez said in his Christmas homily. “When we have a dialogue and seek paths of understanding instead of destroying and disqualifying ourselves, we reflect the mystery of the original Word, which being dialogue, brought everything into existence.”

“When we do not respect human dignity, and we make the idols of power and money dominant…we ignore the mystery of the incarnation and profane the holy name of God,” Bishop Baez continued.

Catholic leaders in Nicaragua have promoted dialogue since protests erupted in April 2018 over reforms to the country’s social security system.

Church-mediated talks broke down earlier in the year, however, as President Daniel Ortega rejected proposed early elections – then escalated police and paramilitary attacks on protesters, who were demanding his ouster.

Violence in Nicaragua has claimed at least 322 lives, according to nongovernmental groups.

Media report that repression from police and paramilitaries has scared protesters from taking to the streets, along with laws requiring impossible-to-obtain permits to demonstrate.