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Church in Nicaragua: persecuted and vilified

The persecution and vilification of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua goes on unabated. Up till the point of writing, at least seven churches have been vandalised. Besides, hooded gunmen attacked a church in Managua besieging unarmed student protesters. Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes was punched and harassed while another church leader was injured by hooded Ortega supporters. Several priests were mobbed during the incident and some even had to leave their parishes.

President Daniel Ortega abandoned a Catholic Church-mediated dialogue with his Opposition and vilified the bishops in such a strong language that many consider it to be a tacit approval for more attacks.

Spanish church criticises government education plans

“Deep concern” was expressed by the executive committee of the Spanish Bishops conference over plans by the new government to curb religious teaching and to re-examine the past accords with the Vatican.

The bishops said that “it is necessary to remember the rights to religious freedom and education – these inalienable rights... are reflected in our Constitution”.

“Religion must be given adequate consideration in the educational system, as required for the person’s integral formation – it cannot be replaced by State ethics imposed by public powers.”

The Spanish government wants to replace the compulsory teaching of religion with a compulsory course on “civil and ethical values”. The government is also planning to cut subsidies for Catholic schools.

But the bishops said the right of parents to “choose the educational model they want for their children” was enshrined in Spain’s 1978 Constitution and guaranteed in 1979 agreements with the Vatican.

‘We are responsible’

“We feel responsible for this army of the poor, victims of war and hunger, of deserts and of tortures,” the Presidency of the Episcopal Conference of Italy wrote in a statement.

“It is the story of suffering, of men, women and children – [a story] which prevents the closing of borders and the erection of barriers – which asks us to show solidarity, justice and peace.”

The bishops acknowledge that there are no simple solutions to this, but “enlightened by the Gospel of Jesus Christ we [want to] continue to lend our voice to those who do not have one”.

The letter comes after almost 1,000 priestsn and charity workers signed a letter stressing that Christianity is incompatible with hostility to migrants and that there was “an exploitation of the Christian faith”.

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