The parable of the viper

Luis Gonzales Posada

By: Luis Gonzales Posada - 18/03/2023

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Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo was one of the great figures of the Nicaraguan Church.

He became famous when he toured the poor neighborhoods of areas devastated by the 1970 earthquake for twenty hours.

He walked in a white cassock, "dirty and threadbare from the rubble, helping and absolving the victims of the disaster." She later supported the Sandinista Front in its fight against the dictator Somoza. With Daniel Ortega, the greatest leader, she had an ambivalent, chaotic relationship; she sometimes supported him and sometimes reviled him. In a famous homily delivered in 1996, she narrated the parable of the viper.

In clear reference to Ortega – whom he considered false and disloyal – he told the story of two people who were walking through the countryside and found a snake that was dying of cold. The kindest one carried her, hugging her to provide warmth and save her life, despite the fact that his friend asked her not to because he could bite him.

The good Samaritan did not listen to him, he lifted up the snake and embraced it in his arms; seconds later he felt the bite of the sharp fangs and died.

Ortega, wrathful, responded to the homily by calling Monsignor Obando "chaplain of Somocism, a Pharisee who soils the word of Christ," and he responded by calling him a "snake that lives, kills, and dies spitting venom."

Later they became friends and in this strange relationship, in March 2016 Ortega promoted a law that proclaimed the priest "National Hero of Peace and Pacification."

Pope Francis must have recalled the parable of the viper when describing Ortega as an "unbalanced" subject, comparing his government with the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitlerian one of 25.

Likewise, he protested because magistrates subservient to the regime sentenced the Bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, to 26 years in prison, because he did not agree to be deported for "treason", after withdrawing his nationality, as they did with 340 opponents, whom They confiscated their property.

The escalation against the Church is unprecedented in the modern history of the hemisphere. Police and paramilitary gangs raid temples and arrest priests.

The penultimate victim was the priest Óscar Danilo Benavidez, parish priest of the Espíritu Santo church in the municipality of Mulukukú, sentenced to eight years in prison for "conspiring and spreading false state news."

In this unhealthy persecution, the Government deported the nuns of the Missionaries of Charity religious congregation of Saint Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who carried out an admirable social action to benefit the poor and, in March of this year, expelled the Apostolic Nuncio, Monsignor Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, provoking the indignant protest of the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Council (CELAM) and 25 former Hispanic American presidents of the IDEA Group.

Ortega also ordered the cancellation of the membership of the Catholic universities Juan Pablo II and Cristiana Autónoma de Nicaragua, as well as the Mariana Foundation for the Fight against Cancer.

The viper that governs Nicaragua is also responsible for the murder of 380 people and for the fact that 150,000 Nicaraguans flee repression by moving or requesting asylum in Costa Rica, according to the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

In addition, three thousand NGOs were closed, as well as 23 radio and television channels, while 120 journalists had to go into exile and six are in prison.

I ask: should we maintain diplomatic relations with a sinister regime that systematically violates human rights? Are we not thus helping to legitimize an evil dictatorship? I think that diplomacy should be based on democratic principles and values. A good step would therefore be to suspend relations with Nicaragua while that country is governed by a satrap.

Published in Spanish by Saturday December 30, 2023

«The opinions published herein are the sole responsibility of its author».