Nicaragua arrests second bishop in crackdown on Church

Screengrab of live feed of Mass at cathedral in Matagalpa
Image caption,The Rt Rev Isidoro Mora said the bishops were “united in prayer” for Bishop Álvarez

By Vanessa Buschschlüter

BBC News

Police in Nicaragua have arrested a bishop who expressed solidarity with a fellow bishop found guilty of treason.

Isidoro Mora was taken away by police after he had told his congregation that Nicaragua’s bishops were “united in prayer” for Rolando Álvarez.

The Rt Rev Álvarez is serving a 26-year prison sentence imposed after he criticised the government of President Daniel Ortega.

The move is the latest crackdown on the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.

President Ortega, and his wife, Vice-President Rosario Murillo, have targeted clerics for speaking out against their rule, jailing some and expelling others.

There were 12 priests among the 222 jailed opposition figures deported from Nicaragua to the US in February this year.

Rt Rev Álvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa, refused to go into exile at the time unless ordered to do so by the Pope.

Rolando Alvarez, bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and Esteli and critical of the Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, poses for a photo at a Catholic church in Managua, Nicaragua May 20, 2022
Image caption,Rolando Álvarez has been in jail since August 2022

A day after his refusal, he was sentenced for treason, undermining national integrity and spreading false news.

Isidoro Mora, who is bishop of the diocese of Siuna, had mentioned the Rt Rev Álvarez during a homily on Tuesday at the cathedral in the city of Matagalpa.

The Rt Rev Mora said that Nicaragua’s Episcopal Conference, the official assembly of the bishops of the Catholic Church in the country, “was always united, praying for Monsignor Rolando”.

It is this remark which is thought to have triggered Bishop Mora’s arrest on Wednesday.

The Catholic Church has been a thorn in the side of the Ortega government since clerics sheltered students in churches during mass anti-government protests swept through the country in 2018.

Religious orders and priests as well as lay people have been targeted by the authorities.

In August, the government cancelled the legal status of the Jesuit religious community, confiscating all its property for allegedly failing to provide required financial statements of its activities.

The Jesuit-run Central American University had had its assets seized earlier that same month.

But it is not just religious organisations the government has clamped down on. The organiser of the Miss Nicaragua beauty pageant stepped down less than two weeks ago after she was charged with treason and dozens of non-governmental organisations have also been shut down.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *