.- Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo, Archbishop Emeritus of Managua, has accepted a request made in January by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega to preside over the Peace and Reconciliation Commission, which is charged with ensuring the implementation of signed agreements with Nicaraguans who were affected by the civil war of the 1980’s.
During a joint press conference on Wednesday at the Unica Catholic University with President Ortega, Cardinal Obando said he agreed to lead the commission in his own name, “considering that the work for peace and reconciliation cannot wait,” and he denied claims that presiding over the commission would be a partisan or governmental job. “This is not a partisan job but rather a job for the nation, especially for those who have suffered the consequences of the different conflicts,” he said.
In response to questions from reporters about the Holy See’s view of his role on the commission, Cardinal Obando limited himself to stating that Pope Benedict XVI, with whom he met recently, told him to “work for the reconciliation of the Nicaraguan family.”
The Holy Father “wants me to work for reconciliation, that is the idea, to seek out reconciliation,” he said. Last month, Cardinal Obando said he would “accept (the nomination) as long as the Holy See gave the green light.”
Collaboration from the bishops
Cardinal Obando also said that he has begun conversations with his brother bishops in Nicaragua in order to gain their input for the work of national reconciliation.
President Ortega said he had spoken with Bishop Leopoldo Brenes of Managua, who said the Bishops’ Conference is open to addressing the subject next week, when they gather for their general assembly.
According to Ortega, Bishop Brenes agreed to schedule a meeting with the bishops so that the president could explain all of the aspects of the reconciliation commission and make an official request for the bishops’ collaboration in the effort.
Ortega said he has also been in contact with the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Jean Paul Goebels, to keep him informed of the involvement of Cardinal Obando in the work of the commission, which he said would be completely “autonomous” and “independent of the government.”