Catholics hope and pray for freedom of Bishop Alvarez in Nicaragua
By James Blears
The vast majority of Nicaragua's people love and trust the Church. Bishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa, in the northeast of the country, has constantly called for peaceful and reasoned dialogue, following the nationwide protests of 2018, with which the government dealt harshly. The United Nations estimates that 120,000 people have fled the country since. Authorities insist Bishop Alvarez's comments and preaching are destabilizing and provocative. He denies inciting violence, insisting prayer is the peaceful option of freedom.
The government's attitude has hardened since it closed eight radio stations in Matagalpa at the beginning of the month. Police fired shots in the air when people protested and arrests were made. The Bishop and colleagues were confined to his residence for two weeks until the pre-dawn raid on Friday.
Bishop Alvarez has been taken to the Capital Managua and placed under house arrest in the home of his parents, while five priests and two Seminaries, who were with him in his residence, are now languishing in El Chipote Prison. Police confirm legal inquiries are underway. Bishop Alvarez has been visited by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, the Archbishop of Managua.
In March the government of President Daniel Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo expelled the Papal Nuncio, Archbishop Wladimir Stanislaw. In June it expelled eighteen nuns from the Missionaries of Charity, established by Mother Teresa, who were helping to run orphanages. They went to Costa Rica... and now this crisis.