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Managua – “Today, on the feast of our patron saint, we should take the opportunity to ask ourselves what moves us to seek the Lord”, said the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, at the mass on Sunday, August 1st, because of the the pandemic was broadcast from his home.
The Cardinal was referring to the celebration of the feast of St. Domingo de Guzman, which was organized in the streets of the capital on the initiative of the Mayor of Managua without prior consultation with representatives of the Catholic Church.
The Archdiocese of Managua, led by Cardinal Brenes, had suspended the celebrations to avoid “excessive gatherings of believers” during the pandemic. Cardinal Brenes therefore called on people to “meet” the patron saint in the intimacy of their own four walls instead of “looking for happiness or noise”.
However, the Mayor of Managua has announced that the celebrations will take place without the blessing of the Catholic Church and with a copy of the icon of St. Domingo de Guzman. And this in a tense political climate three months before the parliamentary elections, in which President Daniel Ortega wants to be re-elected.
“The Lord knows our intentions because we follow the Lord, because we follow our icons, our patron saints, and the Lord turns to you: Today you are looking for me because you have received my bread, because I have fed you, and that is why you are looking for me”, continued Cardinal Brenes as a reflection of the Sunday Gospel.
Meanwhile, the Archbishop of Managua had invited to a pilgrimage last Saturday, which was attended by more than 20,000 people in the cathedral of Managua in compliance with the corona rules with masks and observing the prescribed distance in front of the historical icon of the Blood of Christ. The cathedral was badly damaged in a fire in 2020, which Pope Francis described as an “attack”, while the Nicaraguan police spoke of an “accident”.
Although the holy Domingo de Guzmán is not the actual patron saint of Managua, but the holy apostle James, his icon is venerated all over Nicaragua in the manner of a patron saint. In his honor there are festivals in Managua every year from August 1st to 10th. However, it is not the first time that the civil authorities organize religious activities without consulting the Catholic Church .
Tensions between the government and the Catholic Church have escalated after President Ortega’s attacks on bishops and priests. Meanwhile, the Bishop of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of the Esteli Diocese, José Alvarez, states on social media: “Fear does not come from God. We live in the freedom of God’s children, so we will also do our pastoral work and our evangelizing mission continue without fear “.