In a message published last week at the end of their annual meeting, the bishops' conference announced that Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo will continue as its leader. The conference labeled the attacks as slanderous attempts of some political groups and media to link the archbishop to political scandals.
"Truth and respect for the person and the dignity he has must shine at the present time, especially when we seek reconciliation among all Nicaraguans and when the one who suffers these slanderous attacks is a person who merits [...] the recognition of the whole of Nicaragua for his constant effort in favor of peace and reconciliation," the message said.
The bishops' final message also focused on the need for peace, especially with the start of a Missionary Year.
"Many missionaries have been prepared in our dioceses to take the message of peace and love of this kingdom of Christ which needs to be restored in our minds and hearts so that the real peace we so long for will come," the episcopate said in the message.
In its message, the episcopate lamented the existence of poverty, the lack of employment and medical resources, and the general unease in society. "Meanwhile, unbridled capitalism absorbs the little that remains of our patrimony as nation," the message added.
This situation becomes even worse, the bishops said, "when the decisions to find a solution to the problems do not depend totally on Nicaraguans, but on those who impose the rules of the economic game, which even if they have a well-intentioned end, at times are mistaken decisions as they are ignorant of our culture and reality."
According to the episcopate, this does not absolve Nicaraguans themselves of their responsibility to improve society.
"The moment has arrived for us Nicaraguans to opt for life and not death," the bishops said. They repeated a theme of theirs: "Nicaragua will be what we Nicaraguans desire."
"We opt for life when we are open to dialogue, concord, peace, justice and truth. We opt for death when there is hatred, vengeance, pride, lies and slander in our hearts," the bishops stressed.
They continued: "On the 20th anniversary of the consecration of Nicaragua to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, which brought so many fruits of divine protection and deliverance to our country, we believe that in the present circumstances -- not less painful (especially for the poorest) than the circumstances experienced in those years of profound division and hatred among Nicaraguans -- it is urgent to appeal to the merciful love of Our Lord Jesus Christ through the maternal intercession of the ever Virgin May, Queen and Mother of Nicaragua."
The episcopate had decided to renew the consecration of the country to the Immaculate Heart of Mary. The renewal will take place Dec. 1 in all cathedrals and parishes. All Catholic homes have been invited to do the same.
"May the rosary, the Christological and Marian prayer that the Pope has indicated as an effective means to help us be builders of peace in the family and in the homeland, be a way of contemplation and meditation during this whole Missionary Year, in which we exhort you to participate with fervor and enthusiasm," the bishops' message concluded.