January 28, 2023

Pope Francis expressed concern about the arrest of a bishop in Nicaragua

Read Time:3 Minute, 10 Second


(CNN Spanish) — Pope Francis expressed his painful concern on Sunday as tensions continue to rise in Nicaragua, where the government is imposing more restrictions on the local Church, and called for “peaceful coexistence” between people and institutions in the country, according to the Vatican.

“I closely follow, with concern and pain, the situation in Nicaragua, which involves both people and institutions,” Pope Francis said of the country’s situation, adding: “I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, Through sincere dialogue, the foundations for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can still be found.”

Francisco, who did not specifically mention the arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, said he followed the situation in Nicaragua with concern and pain and asked for prayers for the country.

Government seeks a negotiated exile of Monsignor Álvarez, says expert 2:07

Tensions between the Nicaraguan Government and the Church

The conflict between the government and the Catholic Church deepened after the start of the 2018 anti-government protests, when the religious participated as mediators in the national dialogue with which a peaceful solution to the conflict was sought.

The bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez —one of the most critical bishops of the government— spent 15 days last Thursday under siege at the episcopal see in Matagalpa, along with other priests and laity.

The National Police, through a statement dated August 5, reported the start of investigations for allegedly “trying to organize violent groups, inciting them to carry out acts of hatred against the population, causing an atmosphere of anxiety and disorder, altering the peace and harmony in the community, with the purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities,” the police statement said.

Monsignor Álvarez said he did not know why he is being investigated, and in his homilies, from the curia and through digital media, he has urged prayer and dialogue in the country.

Rosario Murillo: Arrest of Bishop Álvarez was necessary 0:58

During a mass, the bishop replied to the statement with the following message: “As you all know, that police statement came out yesterday, in which we have basically read two things. First, I am being investigated… well, I don’t know what. Well, they will be making their own conjectures. And second, then, that they have formally said that we have a house for a prison. We are gathered here and held and we are always with the inner strength and peace, and the joy in our hearts that the risen one gives us. da. The joy of the one who tells us courage, it’s me, do not be afraid, “said Monsignor Álvarez. Then he continued: “Remember, dearest brothers, fear paralyzes, self-buried despair, and hatred, because it is the death of the heart.” “Hatred is answered with love, despair with living hope, and fear with strength and courage,” he emphasized.

Both Monsignor Álvarez and 7 other priests and seminarians who had been held in the curia for 16 days, were transferred to Managua during an operation carried out at dawn this Friday, as part of the investigation process that is being followed, reported the Nicaraguan National Police in a statement published on their social networks.

Without detailing the reason for the arrest, the Police assures that the religious persisted in “destabilizing and provocative” activities.

Earlier, the Diocese of Matagalpa had reported on its Facebook account that the Police entered the episcopal curia, where Álvarez and other priests and seminarians were.

According to the police statement, the bishop of Matagalpa is under house arrest and the other religious were taken to the Directorate of Judicial Assistance in Managua.



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