Nicaraguan Police Detain Roman Catholic Clergy ‘Critical’ of Ortega Administration

On Friday, Nicaraguan police raided the Matagalpa diocesan headquarters and residence of Roman Catholic Bishop Rolando Álvarez who has been accused of being ‘critical’ of President Daniel Ortega’s administration.

Prior to the late night raid, Álvarez and a group of priests, seminarians, and lay people, were not allowed to leave the residence or communicate with the outside world since August 4, 2022.

America: The Jesuit Review reports:

Nicaraguan police burst into Matagalpa diocesan headquarters and removed an outspoken bishop who had been under house arrest for more than two weeks.

Police raided the curia in the predawn hours of Aug. 19 and took Bishop Rolando Álvarez, according to a social media statement from the Diocese of Matagalpa. It said Bishop Álvarez’s whereabouts are unknown.

The bishop had been holed up in the diocesan office for 16 days with 11 others as police maintained a constant presence outside.

His arrest marked another escalation in the repression against the Catholic Church in the Central American country.

Nicaragua’s National Police said in an Aug. 5 statement that the bishop was under investigation for “trying to organize violent groups, inciting them to execute acts of hate against the population, provoking an environment of chaos and disorder, disturbing the peace and harmony in the community with the objective of destabilizing the Nicaraguan state and attacking the constitutional authorities.”

The investigation was revealed after Bishop Álvarez vociferously objected to regulators ordering the closure of Catholic radio stations in the Diocese of Matagalpa; parishioners had tried to impede police confiscating equipment.

On Sunday, Pope Francis voiced his concerns about the situation.

AP reports:

Pope Francis voiced worry Sunday about the situation in Nicaragua, where police detained several Roman Catholic clergy, including a bishop, critical of President Daniel Ortega’s administration.

Calling for “open and sincere dialogue,” the pontiff made his first public comment on the Friday raid of Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Alvarez’s residence. The detention of him and an unknown number of priests came amid worsening tensions between the church and a government increasingly intolerant of dissent.

Francis told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his customary Sunday noon remarks that he was closely following with “worry and sorrow” events in Nicaragua that involve “persons and institutions.” He didn’t mention the detentions.

“I would like to express my conviction and my hope that through means of open and sincere dialogue, one can still find the bases for respectful and peaceful co-existence,″ the pope said.



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