DAILY CATHOLIC    FRI-SAT-SUN     August 13-15, 1999     vol. 10, no. 152


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      Every Monday, Wednesday and Friday we spotlight each member of the Conclave in alphabetical order. We find this necessary as our dear Sovereign Pontiff Pope John Paul II grows older, clinging to hope, as we join him, of seeing the light of the Triumph of the Immaculate Heart with the dawn of the new millennium - the Jubilee Year 2000. How much longer this 264th successor of Peter has left on this earth only God knows for sure, but His Divine Mercy is evident in allowing him to be with us this long for he truly is a saint for our times, truly Christ's Vicar on earth in these waning days before the glorious Reign of the Sacred Heart, the Time of Peace, the Era of the Eucharistic Presence, the New Pentecost, the Second Advent, the Age of the Holy Spirit. What 1999 will bring we have no idea, nor does anyone else, but with John Paul II at the helm, we feel much more secure in knowing God's Will will be done. Nevertheless, we want to preview the future Pope whether that be soon or much, much later, for no one lives forever and eventually one of those prelates will be selected as the 265th successor of Peter. This will give the reader a better insight into the man whom the Holy Spirit will move the conclave to choose. Thus we bring the reader vignettes on each cardinal in alphabetical order gleaned from the Catholic Almanac, The Official Catholic Directory, Inside the Vatican and other sources.

87.   Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo

          Nicaragua's only red-hat Cardinal Miguel Obando Bravo has had his trials with the internal strife of guerrilla fighting, corrupt government and recently devastating earthquakes, but he hasn't given up hope or faith in the people he shepherds and God's infinite Mercy. He was born on February 2, 1926 in the village of La Libertad, Nicaragua in the Diocese of Juigalpa in Central America. Ordained a Salesian priest on August 10, 1958 he began teaching in Nicaragua and El Salvador as a professor of mathematics and physics. In 1961 he was appointed Prefect of Discipline at the Salesian Seminar in San Salvador and a few years later promoted to Rector of the seminary, a position he held until 1968 when Pope Paul VI made him a bishop granting him the titular see of Puzia di Bizacena on January 18, 1968. He was installed as Auxiliary Bishop of Matagalpa on March 31, 1968 and promoted to Archbishop of Managua on February 16, 1970.

          Throughout the next two decades, as shepherd to the largest see and city of Nicaragua, he would face the growing threat of liberation theology as well as the inner strife of a country falling apart because of the feud between the Sandinsta guerillas and the Somoza government. He often served as a mediator between the two violent factions, often meeting with success through his amiable demeanor and sincerity as a man of God which translated into the release of many prisoners on both sides. Long a strong pro-life prelate, he has fought all his life for human dignity and the Sanctity of Life; always standing strong for the Church in the face of the crooked regime of Somoza and the guerilla tactics of the notorious Sandanistas.

          He was rewarded by Pope John Paul II in the Consistory of May 25, 1985 with the cardinalate and the the titular church of St. John the Evangelist a Spinaceta. As Archbishop of Managua he oversees a country of 3,779,000 Catholics which is nearly 90% of the total population of Nicaragua. The Faith has been strong in this Central American Republic since the Spanish conquest in 1532 when the first bishop was assigned to the land. The ministry of the Church has had its setbacks with the abdication of Anastasio Somoza Debayle and his family on July 17, 1979 and the ensuing developments with the Sandistas which turned hostile to the Church in the aftermath of the spoils. Despite this and the infiltration of evangelical and pentecostal Protestant sects trying to erode the faith in this land colonized by the Jesuits in the sixteenth century, Cardinal Obando Bravo presses on upholding the banner of Holy Mother Church.

          In addition to his enormous task in Managua, he serves curial membership in the Congregation for the Clergy and the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life as well as the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. He resides in the Bishop's quarters at Arzobispado Apartado 3058 in Managua, Nicaragua.

August 13, 1999       volume 10, no. 152


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