Bishop Rolando Álvarez in Matagalpa, Nicaragua Bishop Rolando Álvarez in Matagalpa, Nicaragua  (AFP or licensors)

Nicaragua: Bishop Álvarez ordered to remain under house arrest

The Bishop of Matagalpa, central Nicaragua, has been accused of conspiracy and “propagation of false news.” The initial hearing is set for January 10, 2023.

Vatican News

The Bishop of Matagalpa, a department situated in the central area of Nicaragua, Rolando Álvarez, who was detained by the National Police son August 19, has been charged with the crimes of conspiracy "for undermining national integrity and propagation of false news through information and communication technologies to the detriment of the State and Nicaraguan society."

The arrest

The statement was issued by the Press and Public Relations Office of the Central Judicial Complex of Managua, on Tuesday, December 13. Likewise, the text continued, "the judicial authority appointed a defense attorney, decreed house arrest and scheduled an initial hearing for January 10, 2023".

The note announced that also charged was Fr. Uriel Antonio Vallejos,  considered "a fugitive from justice. "The judicial authority sent an official request to INTERPOL for his capture," the text concluded.

Bishop Álvarez was arrested on August 19, in the early hours of the morning, when officers forced their way into the Bishopric of Matagalpa. He was taken along with other people, including priests, deacons, seminarians, and a layman. He was later placed under house arrest, while the other people arrested were sent to the Directorate of Judicial Assistance.

The Pope's words

A couple of days later, on August 21, after the Angelus prayer, Pope Francis expressed his concern for the situation in Nicaragua, “which affects people and institutions.” The Pope added his desire that “through an open and sincere dialogue, the foundations for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can still be found".

He concluded his appeal by asking the Lord, “through the intercession of the Most Holy Virgin, to inspire in the hearts of all the parties this concrete will.”

Worldwide solidarity

Following Bishop Álvarez’s arrest, various Episcopal Conferences of Latin America, the Caribbean, and the rest of the world, as well as civil organizations, issued statements and sent letters of closeness to the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference.

The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Antonio Guterres, through his spokesman Farhan Haq, expressed his concern for the actions taken by the Nicaraguan government against civil society organizations, including the Catholic Church.

Haq reiterated Guterres' call on the government "to ensure the protection of the human rights of all citizens, in particular the universal rights to peaceful assembly and freedoms of association, thought, conscience and religion, and to release all persons arbitrarily detained."

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14 December 2022, 14:20