St. Dominic de Guzmán Church in Managua, Nicaragua St. Dominic de Guzmán Church in Managua, Nicaragua 

Nicaragua: Bishop Álvarez prays for peace, ‘we are in God’s hands'

Facing a climate of government hostility toward the Church, Bishop Rolando Álvarez leads the rosary with prayers for peace in the country. Another priest reported that he could not leave his parish, while even the procession of Our Lady of Fatima in Managua was blocked. The Bishops' Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean offer solidarity with the Nicaraguan people.

By Vatican News

"Thank you for being with us, gathered around the Blessed Mother, Our Lady." With these opening words Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa led the recitation of the Rosary on Thursday via live streaming from the city's Episcopal Curia.

The bishop also invited the people of God to pray together through social media, "on this eighth day when we are gathered and blocked at our episcopal curia in Matagalpa."  He added, "thank you for your letters, for your text messages. Let us place our trust in the Blessed Virgin, that she may always intercede with her beloved Son, Jesus Christ.” At the end of the celebration, the Bishop thanked the faithful for their participation via social networks and recalled the August 12th celebrations including the Way of the Cross and the Holy Eucharist as part of the National Marian Congress underway.

Bishop Álvarez sent a tweet, writing that "We are in God's hands. We wish to do His will and everything for His glory. Amen."

In other developments, police blocked another priest in his parish, adding to the tense situation. On Thursday Nicaraguan authorities are reported to have blocked Fr. Aníbal Manzanares from leaving his parish of San José, located in the municipality of Terrabona, northern Matagalpa. In a message recorded on Wednesday and circulated via social networks on the following day, Fr. Manzanares wrote: "Brothers and sisters, just to inform you that the police this morning notified me that I do not have permission to go out, I cannot go on the street, nor participate in processions, activities outside the parish church, so I believe I am under surveillance." 

Procession of Our Lady of Fatima banned

The police issued another law enforcement measure that the Archdiocese of Managua communicated to priests and faithful regarding the authorities’ banning the Marian procession initially set for 7 a.m. on August 13, “on the occasion of the Marian Congress and the conclusion of the national Our Lady of Fatima pilgrimage." The Archdiocesan statement notes that "in a spirit of peace, given the current circumstances that our country is experiencing," the Archdiocese called on the faithful to meet at 8 a.m. directly at the cathedral, where the icon of Our Lady of Fatima will be taken in procession in the atrium, followed by the recitation of the Rosary and the celebration of Mass presided over by Cardinal Leopold Brenes.

On the eve of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary and on the day of the Solemnity on August 15, the communiqué concludes, "we offer all the Masses and the ’Gritería Chiquita’ celebrations" so that "Nicaraguans may grow in faith and hope." The ‘Gritería Chiquita’ is a local Marian feast celebrated on the eve of the Assumption and recalls the invocations raised to the Blessed Mother by the Nicaraguan population on the day of the eruption of the Cerro Nego volcano in 1947.

Solidarity of the continental Church with Nicaragua

Given the political crisis in Nicaragua, the Bishops' Conferences in Latin America and the Caribbean have raised their voices to show that the Nicaraguan people are not alone in facing this difficult reality, and expressed their solidarity and closeness.

Mexico: 'Freedom of expression and worship are fundamental rights'

The president of the Bishops’ Conference of Mexico, Archbishop Rogelio Cabrera, wrote in a message how the Mexican Bishops express their dissatisfaction with the suppression of individual freedoms, in particular the freedom of expression and freedom of worship. He writes: "we know that communities, families, religious, priests, laity, children and youth, suffer conditions that create fear, threatening tranquility and peace. In the face of these situations that call for God’s justice,  as a Church family we join in calling attention to the matter and that attitudes of dialogue and encounter will arise."

Guatemala: "Blessed are the peacemakers"

Also in Guatemala, priests there have expressed their solidarity with "the sister republic of Nicaragua, noting their closeness and support, especially with priests deprived of their freedoms and with Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa. In their own message, they also recall the importance of freedom of expression, "which is proper to human rights."

"Our affection and support is extended to all Nicaraguan Catholics to whom we remember the promise made by our Saviour: 'And remember, I am with you always, until the end of the age' (Matthew 28:20). May the Immaculate Conception, the face of Mary so venerated by the Nicaraguan people, protect and bless this country and in particular those who are going through greater difficulties."

The Guatemalan bishops have called on all the people in Central America, especially their fellow citizens, parishes, Christian communities, movements and groups this week to pray for peace in Nicaragua.

Costa Rica: Take the path of unity and peace 

In a note of solidarity, the Costa Rican Bishops' Conference echoes the message issued by the Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) so that "the journey towards fraternity and peace" may become a reality. The priests of the Costa Rican Church recall the words of Pope Francis, hoping that religious freedom will be respected as a way to embark upon the path of fraternity and peace (Encyclical Letter Fratelli Tutti, n. 279).

Under the protection of the Virgin Mary, the Bishops' Conference of Costa Rica invites all the faithful of our Church to always remember in our prayers our brothers and sisters in Nicaragua.

Paraguay: "These incidents violate the principles of the rule of law"

The Bishops of Paraguay through the presidency of the Episcopal Conference (CEP) have also expressed their solidarity with Bishop Álvarez, who remains blocked at the curia offices along with others accompanying him. "We are confident that the Nicaraguan Church will have the necessary strength to unite its people through dialogue and peace," Archbishop Adalberto Martínez of Asunción and president of the CEP notes, stressing his condemnation of "any kind of violence, abuse, attack and censorship against the Church."

Uruguay: May the Virgin guide you in building peace

The Permanent Council of the Episcopal Conference of Uruguay (CEU) issued a statement via its Permanent Council, assuring its closeness to Nicaragua and the pastors who "in this difficult situation, continue to proclaim the Good News of the Gospel."

CELAM deplores government persecution

The Conference of Latin American Bishops (CELAM) said these incidents that target priests and bishops, the expulsion of members of religious communities, the desecration of churches and the closure of radio stations grieve it deeply. "We express our solidarity and closeness," the CELAM text reads. The Nicaraguan Bishops' Conference responded to the CELAM letter expressing its gratitude and recalling what it recently stated, that "our Church by its very nature proclaims the Gospel of peace."

13 August 2022, 16:16