Nicaragua accuses Catholic prelates of ‘destabilizing’ the country


ROME — The Nicaraguan national police announced on Friday the opening of an investigation into Catholic leaders accused of inciting acts of violence with the aim of destabilizing the country.

“Taking advantage of their status as religious leaders, using the media and social networks, senior Church officials try to organize violent groups, inciting them to commit acts of hatred against the population… with the aim of destabilizing the ‘State of Nicaragua,'” police said in a statement.

Law enforcement focused their attention on Bishop Rolando Álvarez, 55, of the diocese of Matagalpa in central Nicaragua. On Friday, Álvarez, a vocal opponent of Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega, denounced police measures that include two days of police blockade around the Episcopal curia of Matagalpa.

Prevented from walking to his church four blocks away, Bishop Álvarez opted to celebrate Mass at his residence and broadcast it live via Facebook.

“The road in front of our clergy house is closed by the national police. And the main gate, as well as the garage, are also blocked off by riot police. However, even in this situation, we maintain our joy, strength and inner peace,” Álvarez said.

This is the second time that the Nicaraguan government has imposed a blockade on Bishop Álvarez, following a similar police action last May. At the time, the bishop protested the measure with a hunger strike, fasting on “water and serum”.

Álvarez denounced an “intensification of the repression of the Catholic Church by the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, who blamed the clerics for the citizen demonstrations in 2018 against his regime, which he describes as a “coup d’etat” and “terrorism”. .'”

The bishop this week denounced the closure of seven Catholic radio stations in his diocese by the Nicaraguan Institute of Telecommunications and Posts (Telcor), claiming that the stations did not have state authorization to operate .

On Wednesday, Buenos Aires-based Infobae reported growing discontent among Nicaraguans over Pope Francis’ lack of response to Ortega’s war on the Catholic Church.

Calling the pope’s silence “scandalous,” Infobae chronicled a series of public statements by Nicaraguan journalists and intellectuals complaining about the Vatican’s stance.

Agustin Antonetti, director of Latin America Watch, an NGO, echoed those same thoughts on Thursday.

“Pope Francis’ silence on what is happening in Nicaragua is outrageous,” Antonetti said. “Daniel Ortega’s dictatorship takes the churches by force, they have closed all their channels and radios, even a priest is in prison, and the others are afraid of being kidnapped.”




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