Bishop Rolando José Álvarez of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, was placed under house arrest by the police of Daniel Ortega’s regime in early August 2022. / Photo credit: Diocese of Matagalpa
Denver Newsroom, Aug 10, 2022 / 17:12 pm (CNA).
The Mexican Bishops’ Conference expressed its solidarity with the Church in Nicaragua, whose freedom of speech and religion is under attack by the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega.
“At this time of profound suffering, the bishops of Mexico wish to convey to you our fervent prayer, closeness, and support, imploring the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, the much-longed-for peace, justice, and harmonious coexistence of your people,” the conference said in an Aug. 8 statement.
The recent wave of repression against the Nicaraguan Church began Aug. 1, when the Ortega dictatorship ordered the closure of eight Catholic radio stations in the Diocese of Matagalpa.
Later, the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando José Álvarez, was placed under house arrest and threatened with prison for allegedly trying to “organize violent groups” to destabilize the government.
The cathedral in Managua was vandalized Aug. 6, cutting off electricity to it and other buildings on the grounds. From Aug. 1 through Aug. 4, riot police prevented Father Uriel Vallejos and a group of faithful from leaving the rectory of Jesus of the Divine Mercy parish in the town of Sébaco after the police forced their way into the parish to shut down the Catholic radio station that operated on the premises. Vallejos is the radio station’s director.
On Aug. 6, unidentified vandals stole the main switch to the cathedral’s electrical control system, leaving the cathedral and surrounding grounds without power.
“We express our solidarity with the bishops’ conference of Nicaragua for the deplorable events that they have been enduring and that have caused suffering and global outrage due to the suppression of individual guarantees, particularly their fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and freedom of religion,” the statement said.
The Mexican bishops also lamented “that in communities, families, consecrated life, priests, laity, children, and young people suffer from conditions that create fear, take away tranquility, and steal peace.”
“They even experience difficulty in worshiping, praying, and announcing the Gospel,” they added.
“As an ecclesial family, we join in raising awareness so that, in the face of these situations that cry out to God for social justice, there be added attitudes of dialogue and encounters that seek a healthy coexistence,” they continued.
At the end of their message, the bishops of Mexico implored “the Blessed Virgin Mary of Guadalupe, Empress of America, her maternal intercession to find paths of dialogue that lead to respect and peace.”
Other Latin American bishops stand in solidarity
The Guatemalan Bishops’ Conference issued a statement Aug. 8 to express “its closeness, support, and solidarity,” especially to the priests deprived of their liberty and to Bishop Álvarez.
“Freedom of speech is part of the rights of man. Our love and support extends to all Nicaraguan Catholics to whom we recall the promise made by our Savior: ‘I will be with you all days until the end of the world,’” the message said.
The Bolivian Bishops’ Conference published a statement Aug. 5 assuring that it “is closely following … with deep pain the situation that the Church and the Nicaraguan people are suffering.”
“We want to express our most sincere solidarity and closeness in this difficult moment that you are going through. We ask you not to give up the effort to build a dialogue that is capable of achieving unity and peace in [the] land of Nicaragua. For this, you have our prayers for you, for the people you serve, and for the political authorities,” the conference stated.
The same day, the Costa Rican Bishops’ Conference lifted up “a prayer for peace to come and [that] paths of dialogue can be opened in search of the well-being of all the inhabitants of the sister country” of Nicaragua.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.