By Walter Sanchez Silva
Cardinal Álvaro Leonel Ramazzini Imeri of Huehuetenango gave a spirited response to Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega, who a few days ago verbally attacked Pope Francis and said that the Catholic Church is “the perfect dictatorship.”
“It’s true, the Catholic Church is not a democracy, but it has a spirit of participation and communion that makes it possible for all of us who are the Church, from the pope to the lay faithful, to live in peace and harmony,” the Guatemalan cardinal said in a video posted by the Latin American Bishops’ Conference Oct. 1.
“Mr. President Daniel Ortega, if you are a Catholic, what I as a bishop would expect from you is that you have respect for the Catholic Church and the proper order that directs this institution founded by our Lord Jesus Christ,” the cardinal continued.
In his speech marking the 43rd anniversary of the founding of the National Police, Ortega questioned: “Who elects the priests, the bishops, the pope, the cardinals, how many votes, who votes for them? If they’re going to be democratic, they must begin by electing the pope, the cardinals, the bishops, with the vote of the population, with the votes of Catholics.”
“Let the population elect them and not all of them imposed [on the people], it’s a dictatorship, the perfect dictatorship. It’s a tyranny, the perfect tyranny,” he continued.
After calling the pope a “holy tyrant,” the Nicaraguan dictator asked: “With what authority do you speak to me about democracy? How many votes did the bishop have from the population to be appointed bishop?”
Ramazzini said that if Ortega doesn’t respect the Church, then “I very much doubt that you are really a Catholic person.”
“It’s not a matter of saying ‘I’m Catholic and I do whatever I feel like. I’m a Catholic, a Catholic president and that’s why I put a bishop in jail, falsely accusing him. I’m a Catholic and I persecute the Church of which I am a member. It’s a contradiction in terms,’” the cardinal asserted.
The cardinal was referring to Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, whom the police abducted Aug. 19 from the chancery where he had been forcibly confined by riot police for more than two weeks and took him to Managua, where he remains under house arrest.
The same night Álvarez was seized, four priests, two seminarians, and a layman who were also confined in the chancery with the prelate were also taken away and are being held in the El Chipote prison, known for torturing opponents of the regime.
Ramazzini also stressed that “it’s typical of dictators to want to create a basis for their dictatorial attitudes and actions in order to be able to convince themselves.”
“I hope that these statements can help clarify ideas,” he concluded, “because there is nothing worse than telling half-truths, because that makes half-lies appear as total lies.”