Maria Lozano, ACN International
Adapted by ACN Canada
Montreal, April 14, 2014 – Just a few days after the murder of the Jesuit priest, Father Frans van Lugt in Syria, the international Catholic pastoral charity Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) has noted with sadness the violent killing of one of its project partners in Nicaragua, Father Francisco Blandón, the parish priest of the church of the Immaculate Conception in Wiwilí, Nicaragua, who was shot dead on Sunday 6 April.
He was struck by two bullets, one in the abdomen and the other in the heart. Father Francisco was a delegate of the Nicaraguan Human Rights Association and a specialist in Canon Law for the diocese of Jinotega. Early investigations suggest that his attacker may have been mentally unstable, since he also shot and killed his girlfriend, who had come to the presbytery to seek advice and help. It seems possible that Fr Francisco may have been shot while trying to protect the girl from her boyfriend’s attempts to shoot her. He had been parish priest here for four years and was greatly loved by the people, who often came to him seeking advice and guidance.
In the last letter he had written to ACN, Father Francisco had asked for help “to renovate the rooms used for the courses, retreats and meetings of the pastoral deanery, which consists of three neighbouring parishes,” and also for the parishioners themselves, “who often come to the courses and have to sleep on the floor and eat wherever they can, and use the latrines, which are in a very bad condition.” Prior to this ACN had also helped this Nicaraguan priest with various other pastoral projects.
In his letter he had also added: “The situation is by no means easy for us in any sense, but with the help of God we are doing the best we can to evangelize and strengthen the Catholic Faith in this neglected and abandoned community.”
Rafael D’Aqui, the head of the ACN project section responsible among other things for Nicaragua, expressed his sadness at the death of Father Francisco and sent his condolences to Bishop Carlos Enrique Herrera of Jinotega. “We know that the people in this region are suffering very much and are especially in need. We want the Church in Nicaragua to know that it can count on our sympathy and solidarity, and we will continue to work so that the project begun by Father Francisco can continue to advance and become a reality.”