How deep must the conspiracy and complicity run in the Catholic Church for it to wish to stoke hatred amongst a people proud of their religious zeal and of the social advances made after overcoming years of war and murder?
The scandal of a complex network of cover ups, saving thousands of sexual abusers within the Catholic Church, has eroded the credibility of the thousand-year-old institution on the global stage, insomuch as it has revealed horrifying episodes executed by men in cassocks.
To date, a denunciation of this kind of abberation has not taken place in Nicaragua, although the scandal has broken in many countries and congregations, and has had thousands of victims, principally young boys and girls. Nevertheless, in the Central American nation, violence and hate have found refuge and a boost under the wing of the influential auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, who has been unmasked as a principal conspirator against the President Daniel Ortega’s government.
Two audio recordings have come to light where Báez is heard promoting and inciting an overthrow of the Sandinist government by unlawful means, which further diminishes confidence in the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference as an agent of peace.
Today, many are wondering how much the Catholic leaders of the country, which the auxiliary bishop belongs to, knew about the political and conspirational deeds of the prelate, who, shielded behind the veil of his religious dignity, was able to operate against a legitimate government.
Added to this is the failure of a national dialogue mediated by the Episcopal Conference, whose inconsistent, ambiguous and partisan actions put under interdict their work in the middle of a crisis which turned into an attempted coup d’état, costing hundreds of lives, above all those of followers of Sandinism.
In the recordings, Báez openly calls for violence and terror to be reinstated in the country, as the only way to remove Ortega from power. He disqualifies Ortega together with the presidents of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro, and Bolivia, Evo Morales.
In one of the recordings of his clandestine meetings, Báez employs harsh language against everything related to the current government and those who do not support the so-called Alianza Cívica (the opposition party ‘Civic Alliance’).
Monsignor Báez, we hear in the recording, exhorts that pressure should be put on the government by rebuilding the roadblocks (known as tranques) which created situations causing deaths, abuses, shortages, among other terrible consequences, which are all here considered acts of terrorism.
“We need to put pressure on the government so that they ask to resume dialogue with the Episcopal Conference. We have considered the option of reinstalling roadblocks…” Báez expresses. While, since the eruption of the crisis, he has been very active on social media against Sandinism.
Likewise, he has indicated that the Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco (an association of more than 43 organisations) must welcome all opposition to the government, “even if they are suspected of being opportunists, pro-abortion, homosexuals, drug traffickers (…) in order to achieve the final objective”.
Báez also acknowledges that “the current position of the great Unidad Nacional Azul y Blanco, in the first stage, is not that of a political party, but of a unit of the entire country, as regards to removing (overthrowing) the current government”.
In turn, in conversations he admits that along with him, other members of the Catholic Church’s leadership plotted and stoked social destabilisation, with the objective of corralling the people and provoking a strong, violent outbreak on the streets to bring about an ungovernable state of affairs.
As part of this destabilising plan, the bishop even calls for institutions like the Nicaraguan army to be attacked, even though this is a body that has maintained, throughout the crisis, a firm non-confrontational position, despite provocations and defamations, which it was subject to from those inciting violence and coups.
Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes confirmed the authenticity of one of the leaked recordings, which he said was recorded during a private meeting and was “unfortunately” tapped and leaked. He added that Pope Frances is the only one who can decide whether Báez leaves the country or not, as Christian groups and individual citizens have asked him to.
According to the Comunidad Cristina San Pablo Apóstol, the auxiliary bishop is an obstacle to peace and reconciliation in Nicaragua, considering that the prelate has been corrupted by hatred and a hunger for power. In that sense, a member of the community just mentioned, Rafael Valdez, reiterated that the request made to Pope Frances is that he removes the bishop from the Central American country due to the harm he has caused the Church and its members, no matter their differing political leanings.
Valdez regrets that Catholics are now divided, as a result of the divisory and biased positions taken by the bishops.
In Valdez’s opinion, Monsignor Báez is damaging for the Church and he must therefore leave the country for the good of the Nicaraguan people and the institution he claims he represents. (PL)
(Translated by Elizabeth Dann)