ROME- Amidst growing attacks against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, Pope Francis sent a letter to President Daniel Ortega on Monday marking the country’s independence, saying that he prays for “fraternal reconciliation” in a country that’s been marred by violent unrest in recent months.
“I assure you all of my prayer so that Jesus Christ, Prince of Peace, gives you the gifts of fraternal reconciliation and a peaceful and charitable coexistence,” Francis wrote in a telegram read to the nation by Nicaraguan Vice President Rosario Murillo, Ortega’s wife, during one of her daily addresses this Monday.
The message, signed by the pope, was sent to the government through the papal representative in the country.
Nicaragua, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Costa Rica all celebrate their Independence on the same day, Sept. 15, commemorating the signing of the Independence Act of Central America from Spanish colonial rule in 1821.
To date, however, the only known papal message to commemorate the event this year is the one sent to Nicaragua, perhaps signaling the pontiff’s special interest in this country.
In recent months, due to clashes between protesters and the forces of Ortega that have left hundreds dead, Francis has spoken about Nicaragua on several occasions, particularly either on Wednesday during his public audiences or on Sundays after his weekly Angelus prayer.
He did so in April, for instance, when on a Sunday he said: “I’m very worried over what’s happening these days in Nicaragua, where, following social protest, clashes took place that even caused some victims.”
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