ACI Prensa Staff, Feb 22, 2023 / 16:00 pm (CNA).
The bishops of Cuba have called on the faithful to offer prayers on Ash Wednesday for the persecuted Church in Nicaragua, where the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega has exiled several priests and sentenced the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, to 26 years in prison.
In a Feb. 18 message, the Cuban prelates referenced Pope Francis’ request to pray for Nicaragua.
At the end of his Feb. 12 Angelus prayer, the Holy Father expressed his concern and sadness over the Feb. 9 expulsion of 222 political prisoners from the country — including some priests — and the sentence against Álvarez announced the following day. “I pray for them and that dear nation, and I ask for your prayers,” Francis said.
In their message, the Cuban bishops said that they welcome the “pope’s invitation to prayer” and make their own the pontiff’s call for the Lord to “open the hearts of political leaders and all citizens to the sincere search for peace, which is born of truth, justice, freedom, and love, and is achieved through the patient exercise of dialogue.”
“In fraternal communion with our Nicaraguan brothers and sisters, we invite the Cuban Catholic faithful to pray for that suffering Church and people,” they said.
The Cuban bishops encouraged the faithful to pray for the Church in Nicaragua as “a special intention” during the Ash Wednesday Masses, “and also during the Stations of the Cross that we usually do on Fridays of the holy season of Lent.”
“The Lord walks alongside us on the pathways of pain and the cross. And he assures us with his resurrection that love is stronger than hate. And life always triumphs over death,” the prelates said.
The bishops noted that “this certainty strengthens us in hope and helps us to live the Lenten season with a renewed commitment to love God and our brothers.”
“We beg the intercession of the Blessed Virgin, so loved by Nicaraguans and Cubans, so that our peoples can walk along paths of peace and respectful acceptance of all,” the message of the Cuban bishops concluded.
On Open Doors’ World Watch List 2023, Cuba was ranked 27th and Nicaragua 50th in the “very high” level of persecution of Christians.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.
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