Imprisoned Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Álvarez appeared unexpectedly on Nicaraguan television March 24, more than six weeks after refusing to be exiled from his country, opting instead to face his sentence of 26 years behind bars.
A U.S. House hearing March 22 examined what it called Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega’s anti-Catholic persecution and called for action, just days after the Vatican said it closed its embassy in Nicaragua.
Nicaragua’s assaults on Catholic and other educational institutions, its stripping political opponents of citizenship, and its arrest of political opponents must stop, said Human Rights Watch’s acting executive director, Tirana Hassan.
In what is the latest move to suppress the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, the government has rescinded the legal status and seized the assets of the nation’s Caritas branches and two Catholic universities, essentially shutting them down.
Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa was convicted and sentenced by a Nicaraguan court to 26 years in prison Feb. 10 — barely a day after the outspoken prelate defied President Daniel Ortega by refusing to go into exile.
An auxiliary bishop who fled his native Nicaragua after facing down death threats for criticizing that country’s totalitarian government was at St. Brigid Church in Bushwick on Jan. 8, helping the largely Latino community there celebrate the Feast of the Epiphany.
In a span of a few days, several members of the Catholic hierarchy in Nicaragua have spoken against the government of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, denouncing them for attacking the freedom of the press and calling the government a dictatorship.