On Friday, an still-unidentified man threw a firebomb into the chapel of the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in Managua, Nicaragua.
Witnesses saw the man stake out the cathedral for twenty minutes before entering wearing a hood and holding something. He then said “I come to the blood of Christ” before throwing the object, a firebomb which severely damaged the chapel and an image of Christ over 300 years old.
He left through a gate which was recently stolen, said Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes of Managua.
“This was a planned act, very calmly planned. In other words, he calculated everything: how to enter, where to do it, and then where to escape. This was planned. So I want to say it clearly: it is a terrorist act, an act of intimidating the Church in her mission of evangelization.”
Brenes also spoke on the damaged Crucifix and 382 year old image of the Blood of Christ, saying because of the immense heat of the fire, “half of the face came off, but the image was charred. We are going to evaluate this calmly because it is a beautiful image more than 300 years old.”
The Diocese of Managua said the firebombing was “a totally condemnable act of sacrilege and desecration,” and that “we must remain in constant prayer to defeat evil forces.”
Pope Francis also condemned the act and expressed his closeness to Nicaraguans in his Sunday Angelus address: “My dear Nicaraguan brothers, I am near to you and I am praying for you.”
“I am thinking about the people of Nicaragua who are suffering due to the attack on the Cathedral of Managua where a widely-venerated image of Christ – which accompanied and sustained the lives of the faithful for several centuries – was seriously damaged, almost destroyed.”
When John Paul II visited the Managua Cathedral and prayed before the now-burnt Crucifix in 1996, he urged Nicaraguans to never waiver in their Faith – salient advice after the terrorist attack.
“You desired this church at the heart of the Archdiocese of Managua – in which you devotedly venerate the image of the ‘Blood of Christ’ which arrived from Spain more than three centuries ago and which represents Jesus offering His blood and His humanity to the Father on the cross – to be dominated by the Risen Lord in the sign of His victory over sin and death. Do not forget the mystery of death and resurrection when the fatigue, loneliness, or incomprehension of others seeks to diminish your enthusiasm or make your spirit waver. Do not doubt that you are loved by the Lord, and that His love always precedes and accompanies you. His victory serves as a guarantee of ours!”