By Francesca Merlo
The bishops of Nicaragua have made the decision to withdraw from hosting the "Days in the Diocese" leading up to the 2019 World Youth Day (WYD).
The decision was sent through a letter from the Undersecretary of the Department of Youth of the Catholic Bishops Conference of Nicaragua, Fr. Jhader Hernandez and addressed to Mons. Jose Domingo Ulloa, President of the Organising Committee for WYD 2019.
In the letter he thanks the Organisation for choosing Nicaragua to host the event, but explains that the current political situation in the country does not make for a safe place for pilgrims to visit.
January 2019: World Youth day (WYD). Previously held in Denver, Manila, Paris, Toronto, Madrid, Rio de Janeiro and Krakow, this year the event will take place in Panama City, Panama.
Preceding the main celebrations of World Youth Day, which often draws crowds of 3 million people, are an organised 14 days of “Days in the Diocese”. These two weeks are an opportunity for pilgrims to spend time in the dioceses in the organising country leading up to the WYD.
For the first time, the days of the dioceses will be carried out in multiple countries. Pope Francis this year has requested for the Days in the Diocese to be extended to the Dioceses of Panama, Costa Rica and Nicaragua - as his wish is for the World Youth Day to be entirely Central American.
Renouncing for safety
In his letter to Monsignor Ulloa, Father Jhader Hernandez states that the Catholic Bishops Conference has made the regretful decision to withdraw from the Days in the Diocese for the safety of the pilgrims and the pastoral staff involved in this Church experience.
He ends his letter thanking Panama for the messages and the constant support they have demonstrated towards the people of Nicaragua during this difficult period.
Panama fight to save this experience
In a Press Release entitled “Nicaragua in the heart of the WYD”, The Panama Organising Committee is urging pilgrims to live the experience of the “Days in the Dioceses” in Costa Rica and Panama. They state that these two countries are preparing to welcome and share these two weeks with young pilgrims and that this event is one of the riches that mark, in a special way, the lives of young people.
What lead to this decision?
Nicaragua is suffering a crisis, after a nationwide revolt against President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice-President Rosaria Murillo, erupted. Ortega is being accused of eroding democracy and human rights. The opposition says he has become the kind of brutal and corrupt tyrant that he once fought against during the Sandinista revolution in which, with his help, the Right-wing Somoza government was overthrown.