MEXICO CITY ( Associated Press) – The Vatican on Friday expressed its “concern” over the crisis between Daniel Ortega’s government and Nicaragua’s Catholic Church, and called on parties to “find avenues of understanding based on mutual respect and trust”. ,
This was expressed by the Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the Organization of American States, Monsignor Juan Antonio Cruz, in the Vatican’s first reaction to recent events in Nicaragua, where seven Catholic radio stations were closed and one bishop was shut down. and was surrounded. Police in the north of the Central American country for nine days.
Cruz said, “The Holy See cannot fail to express its concern in this regard, while always assuring its willingness to cooperate with those who seek an essential means of democracy and a more humane and fraternal civilization.” Committed to communicating as a guarantor.”
At the same extraordinary session of the Permanent Council of the OAS, where a resolution condemning the Ortega government was approved, Pope Francis’ representative called on the parties to “find avenues of understanding, based on mutual respect and trust, for the common good.” Urged to seek more peace.”
The OAS motion was approved with 27 votes in favour, one against (Saint Vincent and the Grenadines), four votes and two absent. In the text, the states condemned “the forced closure of non-governmental organizations and the persecution and arbitrary sanctions imposed on religious organizations and those who criticize the government” in Nicaragua.
They also demanded that Ortega release all “political prisoners” (according to the opposition there are at least 190), stop the persecution of the free press, and guarantee the right to freedom of expression.
The Vatican had maintained complete silence ahead of events in the Central American country, where on Thursday 61 opposition and exiled civilian organizations sent a letter to the supreme pontiff asking him to react to the situation.
The statement of the Vatican’s representative to the OAS comes while the captivity of Monsignor Rolando lvarez, Bishop of Matagalpa, who lives with six priests and four men in the city’s highly-guarded headquarters of the Episcopal Curia, 130 kilometers to the north, continues. from the capital.
It also comes hours after Nicaraguan police banned processions in honor of the Virgin of Fatima in Managua on Saturday, as revealed by the Archdiocese of Managua on Friday.
In a statement, the archdiocese of the capital indicated that the procession was scheduled for the occasion of the Congress of Marian and at the end of the pilgrimage to the image of the Virgin of Fatima through the country, but the National Police informed them that “it would be internal security.” For reasons not allow to “do it”.
In view of the above, the capital’s Catholic authorities invited their believers to fast and pray this Friday and to go “directly to the cathedral of Managua” on Saturday to “pray for the Church and for Nicaragua”.
The statement clarified that those involved should do so “on foot or in their personal vehicles” and “peacefully”. He indicated that the congregation would be carried out by the Archbishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes.
Police have not informed whether they will block access to the cathedral area on Saturday to prevent an influx of people to the Eucharist, or if they will allow religious activities to take place without interruption.
Since September 2018, the year when social uprisings broke out in Nicaragua, the police have prohibited mass independent activities. It only allows demonstrations called by the ruling Sandinista Front party or official acts led by President Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice-president Rosario Murillo.
Police said they are investigating Monsignor lvarez, one of Ortega’s most important bishops, for allegedly “inciting hatred” and organizing “violent groups”, after the bishop took to the streets last week. , after a crucifixion, to ask the police officers to allow him to go out and work collectively in that northern city’s cathedral.
The crisis with Bishop lvarez followed the closure of seven Catholic radio stations in Matagalpa and a police cordon around the parish of Sebaco, a municipality in the same area whose chief, Uriel Vallejos, was held for several days with six men. .
Last June, Ortega shut down the Catholic television channel, and in July he expelled 18 nuns from the Missionaries of Charity Order from Nicaragua, following orders to close down that congregation founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the 1980s.