Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solorzano of Managua said Mass Wednesday at the entrance of the Blood of Christ chapel in his cathedral, which was firebombed last week.
“The Church has always suffered and will continue to suffer, but our assurance is that the Lord is with us,” Cardinal Brenes said during the Aug. 5 Mass.
He called the July 31 firebombing “an act of terrorism.”
Anti-government protests in Nicaragua began in April 2018. They have resulted in more than 320 deaths. The government has accused many bishops and priests of siding with the opposition.
A small group of priests and religious participated in the Aug. 5 Mass. Behind the cardinal could be seen the large image of Christ crucified that was scorched by the attack. During the Mass, the cardinal showed the face of Christ, which had broken away from the corpus during the fire.
The Archbishop of Managua said there is “an atmosphere of sadness and pain…because what we feel from this nightmare is: When are we going to wake up?” He urged clinging to “the cross, because if we are clinging to his cross, who can separate us from the love of God?”
Cardinal Brenes said that looking at the image of Christ crucified, “we see our Blood of Christ charred, but still standing.”
“The image and the cross resisted the forces of the flames as a testimony to us that the cross is not so easily defeated, the cross is not so easily destroyed. That is why today I call on you to cling to the cross, at the foot of the cross like Mary and that small group that accompanied him,” the cardinal said.
The Blood of Christ chapel of Managua’s Immaculate Conception Cathedral has been home to a crucifix made in the 17th century.
Bishop David Malloy of Rockford, chair of the US bishops’ international justice and peace committee, said Aug. 5 that the crucifix “has become a poignant image of the country’s suffering Church, which has sustained repeated rhetorical and physical attacks (three in the last three weeks) since attempting to mediate peace in 2018.”
He added that “The Church in the United States stands with the suffering Nicaraguan faithful, and with all people of goodwill striving for peace and reconciliation in Nicaragua.”
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