Monday, February 13, 2023
Ana Rodriguez Soto – Florida Catholic newspaper
MIAMI | Archbishop
Thomas Wenski spoke to the Florida Catholic Feb. 11, 2023, about the expected
arrival in Miami of some of the political prisoners released by the Nicaraguan
government and flown to the U.S.
the people expelled were politicians or candidates for public office that [Daniel]
Ortega locked up before the elections,” the archbishop said, but among them were
“four or five priests, a couple of seminarians, a deacon and an organist.”
they would be taken in at first by Nicaraguan families, Archbishop Wenski said
he offered the priests and seminarians longer term housing at St. John Vianney
College Seminary in Miami.
offering them the hospitality of the seminary as well as the opportunity to get
acclimated, acculturated and see what the next steps would be after that,” he
said. At the seminary they could take “intensive English classes” while finalizing
their immigration paperwork.
the expectation is that many of the priests and seminarians would stay in
Miami, “I’ve already heard from a few bishops who need Spanish-speaking priests
who would be happy to help them out,” Archbishop Wenski said.
that Catholic Charities and Catholic Legal Services of the Archdiocese of Miami
were standing by to provide aid and help the exiles with their immigration
“Refugees or migrants arriving in Miami is sort of like a summer thunderstorm,”
the archbishop said, noting that a few days earlier 114 Haitians had arrived by
The Nicaraguans arrived from Washington, D.C., on Sunday, Feb. 12, and took part in the 1 p.m. Mass normally celebrated at St. Agatha Church by exiled
Nicaraguan Bishop Silvio José Baez, auxiliary bishop of Managua. He spoke to the Florida Catholic’s sister paper in Miami, La Voz Católica, after the Mass. (That story will be posted later today.)
Baez was forced to leave Nicaragua in 2019 after receiving death threats for
his criticism of Ortega’s government. He now teaches Scripture at St. Vincent
de Paul Regional Seminary in Boynton Beach but celebrates that weekly Mass at
St. Agatha which is livestreamed via Facebook to Nicaragua.
Agatha’s pastor, Father Marcos Somarriba, is a native of Nicaragua. The parish
is located near an area of Miami known as Sweetwater which, since the late
1970s, has been home to a large concentration of Nicaraguan exiles.
the epicenter for the Nicaraguan community in the U.S. just like Miami is the
epicenter for the Cuban community,” Archbishop Wenski said.
a lot of pathos in this whole thing,” he added, because a few days earlier,
speaking in front of Cuban government officials at the University of Havana, a papal
envoy, Cardinal Benjamin Stella, had mentioned a potential amnesty for
those jailed in Cuba after the anti-government protests in July 2021. Cardinal Stella
was visiting the island to mark the 25-year anniversary of the historic visit
of St. John Paul II.
happened in Nicaragua could be something similar to what might happen in Cuba
with those political prisoners, so Miami might be on an emotional roller
coaster the next few weeks,” Archbishop Wenski said.
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