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Ortega’s police raid Nicaraguan curia, arrest Bishop Álvarez



Police officers and riot police block the main entrance of Matagalpa's Archbishop Curia preventing Monsignor Rolando Alvarez from leaving, in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, on August 4, 2022. - Riot police on Thursday prevented Nicaraguan Bishop, Rolando Alvarez, from leaving the church building to preside at a mass as part of a "prayer crusade" being carried out by the church, following the closure of several Catholic media outlets and allegations of harassment. (Photo by AFP) |

Pablo Cesio - Daniel Esparza - published on 08/20/22

The ongoing effort to silence dissenting voices in Nicaragua keeps on targeting the Catholic Church.

The Diocese of Matagalpa announced early Friday morning that the Nicaraguan National Police had raided the diocesan chancery, taking Bishop Rolando Álvarez and his companions into custody. A few hours later, the police reported that the bishop remains in resguardo domiciliar, that is, under police custody but in a residence belonging to his family in Managua.

The police report also claims that the raiding of the curia house took place after “patiently and prudently waiting, for days for a positive communication from the Matagualpa Diocese, which never arrived.” It also adds that, as “destabilizing and defiant actions kept on happening, the intervention was necessary to preserve the peace.”

The Archdiocese of Managua reacted immediately, issuing a statement saying that Archbishop Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes had the opportunity to visit and talk with Monsignor Álvarez at his family residence, “showing his fraternal esteem on behalf of our Nicaraguan church.” The statement also explains that “although Álvarez’s physical condition is deteriorating, his spirit remains strong. Monsignor Álvarez has expressed his trust in everyone’s prayers, as we face this difficult situation”.

Whereas Álvarez remains under house arrest, his companions were taken to the detention center known as El Chipote. Last Sunday, the Diocese of Siuna denounced the arrest of Fr. Óscar Benavidez after celebrating Mass. He was also taken to this detention center.

The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) has repeatedly denounced the facility as a psychological torture center.

Processions forbidden, priests imprisoned, churches attacked

The ongoing effort to silence dissenting voices in the country has directly targeted the Nicaraguan Catholic Church repeatedly. In less than four years, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has gone through more than 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral, the expulsion of the Missionaries of Charity, and the highly irregular house arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, accused of “crimes against spirituality.”

Last Saturday, Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes blessed nine images of Our Lady of Fatima that were supposed to go to each diocese in the country. A pilgrim replica of the original image has been visiting parishes in the country for the past year and a half, as part of an ongoing Marian Congress.

On Sunday, Ortega’s government banned a priest from the diocese of Matagalpa from receiving the imageexplaining that the planned procession of the image was banned for “internal safety reasons.”

Father Erick Diaz, who was arriving to the cathedral to receive the image, was informed by the local police that he was banned from doing so. The hundreds of faithful who were going to the cathedral to venerate the image were also sent back to their homes.

NicaraguaPersecution of Christians
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