An exiled bishop encouraged LA-area Nicaraguans to seek the Lord while “fighting for peace, liberty, and justice without ever losing hope or giving up” during a visit to St. Vincent de Paul Church in Exposition Park Epiphany weekend.

Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Báez of Managua and Father Edwing Román — both exiled after publicly criticizing the government of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo — came to LA days after authorities there arrested several priests.

Speaking to a packed house from the pulpit at a Mass Saturday afternoon, Báez in his homily encouraged the faithful to see today’s social and political strife in Nicaragua with eyes of faith by emulating the magi who remained united, trusted in God’s timing, kept their eyes fixed on the Star of Bethlehem and were not intimidated by a powerful person like King Herod.

“We Nicaraguans know well that in our history as a people we’ve lived through very dark periods in which terrible errors have been committed,” he told the hundreds gathered Jan. 6, many donning clothing and hats emblazoned with the Nicaraguan flag.

“But we should never forget that, despite these failures, it’s always possible to start over and keep walking. In our history, God has always put new shining stars in our path for us to follow.”

Báez has long criticized the Ortega government for its attacks on religious freedom, and has received numerous threats against his life. He has been in exile since 2019, when Pope Francis asked him to leave Nicaragua for his safety. Now in Miami, he regularly criticizes the country’s leadership in masses live streamed from the parish where he lives and ministers. Most recently, he has become the loudest voice calling for the release of his friend Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, who last year was sentenced to more than 26 years in prison on treason charges.

The political situation in Nicaragua has continued to worsen this winter, with news outlets reporting that at least 14 priests and one bishop were arrested over the holidays, and the U.S. State Department naming Nicaragua once again to its list of “Countries of Particular Concern” for engaging in or tolerating “particularly severe violations of religious freedom.”

Saturday’s Epiphany Mass was punctuated with references to the turmoil in Nicaragua, from prayers offered for those who’ve been kidnapped, killed, or arrested, to impromptu chants of “Viva Nicaragua!” and “Viva la Virgen Maria!” emanating from the crowd….

From Angelus News