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Nicaraguan priests call for an end to the persecution of the Catholic Church

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Priests from different dioceses in Nicaragua asked the national government this Friday to “stop the persecution of the Catholic Church”, which in recent months has seen how two members of the clergy were arrested and two others were besieged in their parish houses, including the bishop Rolando Álvarez, one of the most critical of President Daniel Ortega.

“We urge the country’s authorities to respect freedom of expression and religion in our homeland. Let the persecution of the Church cease”, the priests of the diocese of Siuna (north Caribbean) stated in a public message, in which they offered their support to the bishop, besieged by police since Wednesday in the city of Matagalpa (north).

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Relations between the Catholic Church and Ortega, historically cracked, recently worsened with the arrest and subsequent conviction of Father Manuel Salvador García Rodríguez for alleged violence against a woman, the capture of the priest Leonardo Urbina for alleged abuse of a minor, as well as the fences the priest Uriel Vallejos and Bishop Álvarez.

Bishop in Nicaragua is prevented from leaving the parish house by riot police

García, a parish priest from Nandaime (Pacific) was sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for allegedly assaulting a woman, who was arrested for denying the assault.

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Urbina, a priest in Boaco (center), faces charges for the alleged rape of a 12-year-old girl, whose complainants have been identified by the opposition as followers of Ortega.

Vallejos was confined in the bedroom of a parish, where police entered by force to occupy equipment from a Catholic radio station canceled by the authorities.

While Álvarez, in charge of the Communication area of ​​the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa and apostolic administrator of the diocese of Estelí, was besieged by police after criticizing the closure of Catholic radio stations.

The conflicting relations between the Government and the Catholic Church intensified this week after the authorities ordered the closure of ten media outlets, including eight Catholics, which were under the direction of Álvarez.

“We call on the civil authorities of this country to cease the abuses that they have been committing without just cause against the pilgrim Church in Nicaragua. We trust that sanity will prevail, and that these coercive manifestations of fundamental human rights will be avoided,” said the Diocese of Matagalpa.

“We demand that the Political Constitution of the Republic be respected, that these manifestations of hatred and violence cease and that people can live and work in peace,” he added.

For its part, the College of Consultants of the diocese of Estelí said that it follows “with great concern the course of events that are saddening our country and hindering the exercise of the evangelizing mission of the brother clergy of the diocese of Matagalpa.”

With 58.5% of believers, the Catholic Church is the religion with the most followers in Nicaragua, according to the latest national census.

Nicaragua is experiencing a crisis that, according to the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights (IACHR), left at least 355 dead in 2018, of which Ortega admitted 200 and alleged that he was defending himself from an alleged coup.

The crisis worsened with the elections last November, when Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, were re-elected to their positions, in a process criticized because seven of his potential rivals were arrested and two fled into exile. (YO)

Source: Eluniverso

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