Bishop Declan Lang, Chair of the Bishops’ Conference Department for International Affairs, has commented on the situation in Nicaragua, where President Daniel Ortega’s Sandinista government is imposing restrictions on the local Church.
Praying for the men and women suffering oppression, Bishop Lang said:
“Over recent years the people of Nicaragua have endured deepening repression and violations of human dignity. Many have been unjustly imprisoned, subjected to violence, or killed for defending their basic rights. Others have been forced to flee the country in search of safety.”
“We are united in prayer with all those who, confronted with these atrocities, continue to struggle for justice and peace. Among them, bishops, priests, seminarians, members of religious orders, and laypeople are facing persecution because of their work upholding the Gospel.”
On Friday, 19th August, the bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, Bishop Rolando Álvarez, was forcibly removed prior to being placed under house arrest. The bishop, together with several priests and lay people, had been confined under surveillance in the diocesan curia since the beginning of the month.
“Together with Bishops’ Conferences in Latin America and throughout the world, we affirm our closeness with the Church and people of Nicaragua,” said Bishop Lang.
“We call for the immediate release of Bishop Álvarez, those arrested alongside him, and all who have been detained for peacefully resisting injustice. May they draw strength from God and the solidarity of our universal Church.”
Pope calls for dialogue
Pope Francis, at the Sunday Angelus on 21st August, said:
“I am following closely, with concern and sorrow, the situation in Nicaragua, which involves both people and institutions. I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through open and sincere dialogue, the basis for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can still be found.”
The Pope also invoked the intercession of Mary Immaculate, the ‘Purísima’ so dear to the people of Nicaragua.