BREAKING: Police force their way into chancery and abduct bishop in Nicaragua

David Ramos   By David Ramos for CNA


Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, is monitored by police in early August 2022. / Photo credit: Diocese of Matagalpa

Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Aug 19, 2022 / 09:20 am (CNA).

Nicaraguan police forced their way into the residence of Bishop Rolando Álvarez Friday morning and abducted the prelate, an outspoken critic of the regime of President Daniel Ortega, who had been held there under house arrest for the last two weeks.

Álvarez, the bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, and several priests, seminarians, and laymen were forcibly confined to the chancery on August 4, and have been prohibited from receiving food and medicine.

Early this morning the Diocese of Matagalpa posted on social media that “at this time the National Police have entered the Chancery of our Diocese of Matagalpa.”

ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language sister news agency, was able to confirm that the prelate was taken prisoner by the Nicaraguan police and put into a vehicle.

The niece of the bishop of Matagalpa, Yoselin Álvarez, reported this morning that the police also raided the house of the prelate’s parents.

The other eight people who had remained with Bishop Álvarez inside the chancery since August 4 were transferred in different vehicles.

Nicaraguan Bishop José Báez, the auxiliary bishop of Managua who, for security reasons, has been living in exile since 2020 tweeted:

“With an indignant and hurt heart, I condemn the nightly kidnapping of Bishop Álvarez. Those who know, tell us where my brother bishop is! May his kidnappers respect his dignity and release him! Once again, the dictatorship overcomes its own evil and its diabolical spirit.”

At the Santa Lucía parish in the diocese, which for several days has witnessed the Ortega regime’s police presence outside their church, the faithful gathered at dawn to protect their priests and prevent them from being abducted as well.

Diocese Media-Radio Stereo Santa Lucia tweeted:

“#URGENT #SOS At the sound of the church bells of the Santa Lucía parish, (the town of) Darío, this Friday morning the people draw near to protect the safety of our priest now that with anguish we receive the news that the police entered the Chancery of the Diocese of Matagalpa. Pray for our Bishop Rolando Alvarez Lagos.”

The Diocese of Matagalpa asked for prayers for Álvarez and the others abducted by the Ortega dictatorship, and recalled that “the strength and power of the Christian is in prayer” and posted the following prayer on Twitter:

“Lord Jesus, good shepherd, grant our Bishop the grace of persevering and continuous prayer, the joy of communion with his priests and religious and the joy of serving his people with a generous spirit.

“Merciful Lord, permit him to proclaim the wonders of your love, announce the only true God and experience him in the charity of all, principally the poorest, the sick, and the penitents. May his heart be attentive to the anguish and the hopes of his flock, may he be faithful to the mission of encouraging hope and to work tirelessly for justice.

“We entrust him to your Divine Mercy, to Our Lady of Mercy, the intercession of Sister Faustina Kowalska, and Pope Saint John Paul II. Amen.

“With this prayer that has accompanied the Episcopal Ministry of Bishop Rolando José Alvarez Lagos, since his arrival in the Diocese of #Matagalpa on April 2, 2011, we continue to pray to the Lord for our Pastor, for the priests, seminarians, and laity who have accompanied him.”

Since 2018, under the Ortega dictatorship, there have been more than 190 attacks against the Catholic Church, its bishops, priests, faithful, and houses of worship.

Ortega has repeatedly insulted Catholic bishops and priests, calling them “demons in cassocks,” “terrorists” and “coup plotters.”

In March of this year, the dictatorship expelled the apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag. The decision was received with “surprise and pain” by the Vatican.

At the beginning of July, the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, and dedicated to caring for the poorest and sickest, were expelled from the country.

In addition, the regime has forcibly closed Catholic television and radio stations in the country.

In recent weeks, using the police, the Ortega dictatorship has harassed various priests in Nicaragua, especially in the Diocese of Matagalpa and the Diocese of Siuna where Father Oscar Benavidez was arrested for no known reason.

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