The archbishop of Managua condemned the human rights situation in Nicaragua Sunday during his New Year's Day Mass, saying it has caused an exodus of professionals, workers and peasants.

"Will our Nicaraguan brothers continue to abandon the country in search of better horizons because here life is impossible?" Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo asked in his homily to thousands gathered in front of the ruins of the metropolitan cathedral.The cathedral, like much of Managua, was destroyed in an earthquake shortly before the leftist Sandinistas took power in 1979 and has not been rebuilt.

"Will people continue to die in strange circumstances? Will kidnappings and manipulation of the pain of Nicaragua's mothers continue?" he asked.

The comment appeared to be a reference to charges published periodically in the opposition newspaper La Prensa that the leftist Sandinista government has committed human rights violations.

"No," Obando y Bravo exclaimed to loud applause. "This year cannot be a copy of the one before because we are determined to make it something new."

He did not elaborate.