Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Álvarez, a critic of dictator Daniel Ortega, denounced this Friday (5) that he is being held in his Curia by police forces without knowing the reason, while the country’s vice president, Rosario Murillo, warned that “provoking ” is a crime.
“We are gathered, in the name of the Lord, in this chapel of Mercy and held back by the police forces,” said the bishop who, along with six priests and six lay people, has been in this situation since Thursday at the Episcopal Palace in the northern department of Matagalpa. from Nicaragua.
The religious said through the digital platform of his diocese that he does not know why they are holding him and that he does not know how long the parish house will remain under siege by the police.
For her part, the country’s vice president, who is Ortega’s wife, said through the official press, without mentioning the bishop, that “to provoke, to show off impunity, is a crime, especially when what is provoked is discord”.
The statements by Álvarez and Murillo are the most recent friction between the Ortega government and the Catholic Church, which escalated on Thursday when Nicaraguan police prevented the celebration of morning mass in the Cathedral of Matagalpa, before which the cardinal went out to to pray.
Murillo, who said the day before that the sacred symbols of Catholicism were “manipulated”, also commented that “to discredit those institutions that deserve respect is also a crime”.
During a virtual Mass, the bishop asked the Catholic faithful to “keep alive hope, remain strong in love and live in the freedom of the children of God, knowing that the Lord will fulfill his word: the Lord will restore Nicaragua”.
Meanwhile, the first lady, who is the mother-in-law of the head of the National Police, Francisco Díaz, referred to hate crimes, which since 2021 are punishable by life imprisonment in Nicaragua.
“Let’s remember that hate is a crime, that every crime is a crime, and a crime that must be investigated”, observed Murillo.
At Friday’s Mass, Álvarez prayed “also for those who keep us stranded, we continue to ask the Lord to bless their lives, their marriages, their families, their jobs, may the Lord bless their food, their steps.”
He also thanked the “millions of brothers and sisters who have watched us since yesterday”.
The bishop said that, in addition to Nicaraguan priests, members of the Latin American Episcopal Council (CELAM), which brings together bishops from Latin America and the Caribbean, also expressed “closeness and solidarity”.
Ortega and Murillo’s relations with the Catholic Church have historically been fraught with friction and have remained tense since the 2018 anti-government uprising, which the Sandinista leader interpreted as a failed coup and for which he still blames, among others, the Episcopate.