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, together with six priests and six lay people , has been in this situation since Thursday at the Episcopal Palace in the department of Matagalpa, in northern Nicaragua.
The religious said through the digital platform of his diocese that he does not know why they are detained and that he does not know for how long the parish house will remain under siege by the police.
For her part, the vice president of the country, who is Ortega’s wife, said through the official press, and without mentioning the bishop, that “to provoke, to show off impunity, is a crime, especially when what is provoked is iscord.”
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 at the Cathedral. de Matagalpa, before which the cardinal went out to pray.
Murillo, who the day before said that the sacred symbols of Catholicism were “manipulated”, also commented that “to generate discredit for those institutions that deserve respect is also a crime.”
During a virtual Mass, the bishop asked the Catholic faithful to “keep hope alive, remain strong in love and live in the freedom of the children of God, knowing that the Lord will keep 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, that since 2021 are punishable by life imprisonment in Nicaragua.
“Let us remember that hate is a crime, that every crime it is a crime, and a crime that must be investigated”, observed Murillo.
At the Mass this Friday, Álvarez prayed “also for those who keep us detained, we continue to ask the Lord to bless their lives, their marriages, their families, their jobs, may the Lord bless their food, their steps.”
In addition, he thanked the “millions of brothers and sisters who have watched over us since yesterday”.
The bishop stated that, in addition to the Nicaraguan priests, the 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 anti-government revolt of 2018, which the Sandinista leader interpreted as a failed coup. and for which he still blames, among others, the Episcopate.