The auxiliary bishop of Managua, Nicaragua, Silvio Báez, who has been living in exile in the U.S. for several years, said in his Sunday Mass homily Oct. 29 that “the dictators say they love God, while they themselves take his place believing themselves to be gods.”
The prelate was the celebrant at the Mass offered at St. Agatha Church in the Sweetwater neighborhood of Miami, where many Nicaraguans live.
Báez, who has always criticized President Daniel Ortega’s regime in Nicaragua, also pointed out that dictators “enrich themselves at the expense of the poor, disrespect people’s rights and freedoms, and oppress their people, and they talk about God, and they say they believe in God and love God.”
“That ‘god’ that the dictators of our people speak of is not the true God, whom you cannot love if you don’t love yourself, if you don’t respect human beings,” he continued.
The bishop charged that “those who exploit the poor and oppress people not only do not know or love God but — as Pope Francis said this morning at the closing Mass for the synod in Rome — they commit a great sin: They corrode fraternity and devastate society.”
During the final Mass for the Synod on Synodality that took place Oct. 4–29 in Rome, the Holy Father stated: “It is a grave sin to exploit the weakest, a grave sin that corrodes fraternity and devastates society.”
In his homily in Miami, the auxiliary bishop of Managua encouraged the faithful “to love God and our neighbors always and everywhere, also in society,” and recalled that love can be brotherly, for spouses, family members, and friends.
“Love also has a social and political dimension. That’s why tyrants are liars who, cynically, fill their mouths invoking and talking about God, and even describing their crimes, illegalities, and acts of corruption as divine blessings. There are terrorists who kill in the name of God,” the Nicaraguan prelate warned.
Báez also pointed out that “it may sound trite to talk about love, but for Jesus knowing how to love is the only thing necessary in life, the only thing that matters: loving God and loving your neighbor.”
“Behind so much dissatisfaction and depression that we suffer there are great voids of love,” he noted, saying that in many of the problems that people have, “there is a scandalous lack of love for God and neighbor.”