Managua, Aug 14 Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Álvarez, a critic of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, who served 11 days this Sunday in an Episcopal Palace by the National Police, asked the Catholic faithful to pray for his release.
“I have summoned both the Diocese of Estelí and the Diocese of Matagalpa, the faithful, to a crusade of prayer and adoration (…) I ask you to join your intentions in finding a solution to this situation, in which we have already 11 days gathered and held in our episcopal curia in Matagalpa,” said Álvarez, during a homily broadcast on Facebook Live.
The bishop, five priests, three seminarians and two lay people have been held in the Matagalpa episcopal curia since August 4, accused by the Police of allegedly trying to organize “violent groups.”
The group is isolated, they have begun to ration wine and hosts during telematic masses and they have not said how many days they have food.
The retention of the bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, both in northern Nicaragua, is the most recent chapter in a history of friction between the Catholic Church and Ortega, dating back 43 years.
The pastoral vicar of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Edgard Sacasa, dedicated the mass to the release of Álvarez and the group that accompanies him.
“Our bishop hurts us, afflicts us, we need him, we love him, we love him, and we are united digitally, spiritually, existentially with him. Our hearts, Monsignor Rolando, are with you day and night, at every sunset,” Sacasa said.
All the priests of the Diocese of Matagalpa were expected to arrive at the mass presided over by Sacasa to participate in the reception of a replica of the Virgin of Fatima, but some did not make it, said the vicar.
Father Fernando Calero, from the Nuestra Señora de Fátima parish, Rancho Grande municipality, denounced that when he was heading towards Matagalpa the Police prevented him from moving.
“I have been detained by police authorities (…) they have checked us (…) as if we were criminals (…) they told us that any religious act that was going to be carried out, it would be better if we returned,” Calero said in a message on social networks.
In 2022, the Ortega government has imprisoned two priests, closed eight Catholic radio stations, removed three Catholic channels from subscription television programming, raided a parish, and expelled the missionaries of the Mother Teresa of Calcutta order.
In a country where 58.5% of its 6.5 million inhabitants consider themselves Catholic, the Sandinista leader has described as “terrorists” the Nicaraguan bishops who acted as mediators of a national dialogue that sought a peaceful solution to the crisis Nicaragua has lived since April 2018.
The socio-political situation in Nicaragua has worsened after the controversial elections last November in which Ortega was re-elected for a fifth term, fourth consecutive and second along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, with his main contenders in prison. EFE