Pope calls for an end to violence as death toll reaches 110
After praying the noonday Angelus in St. Peter’s square before an audience of thousands on 3 June, Pope Francis called for an end to violence in Nicaragua:
“I join my Brother Bishops of Nicaragua in expressing grief for the grave violence, with dead and wounded, carried out by armed groups to suppress social protests,” Pope Francis said. “I pray for the victims and their families. The Church is always for dialogue, but this requires active commitment to respect freedom and, first of all, life. I pray that all violence may cease and that conditions may be ensured to resume talks again as soon as possible.”
Protests against President Ortega’s government and his proposed social security changes have claimed more than 110 lives since protests started on April, 15 in the past week alone. More than 200 were injured last Wednesday. The bloodshed was condemned by the Central American country’s Episcopal Conference of Catholic bishops, which called it “organized and systematic aggression”.
Even churches are now coming under attack. On 2 June police stormed a Catholic church in Masaya, some 20km south of the capital Managua, in which 30 opposition supporters had sought refuge after being attacked by riot police and pro-government militias. Two people died in the church before local Church authorities intervened and those sheltering there were released.