Rodríguez Maradiaga: "Silent War" to the Church in Nicaragua
Cardinal Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, during a Eucharistic celebration in 2021 (@Suyapa Medios, Honduras)
The Honduran cardinal expressed solidarity with the Nicaraguan Catholic community in the face of the siege it suffers from the local government.
With harsh words, the Cardinal and Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Oscar Rodríguez Maradiaga, described the situation of harassment that the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has suffered for weeks by the Sandinista government. According to local media reports, the Honduran cardinal stated during the Sunday mass on August 14 that "that silent war they are waging to persecute Jesus in his Church in the sister nation of Nicaragua, that is not the fire that Jesus has come to bring ”.
The voice of one of the closest collaborators of Pope Francis, a member of the council of cardinals that advises him, was felt after the series of restrictions that both members of the Nicaraguan ecclesiastical hierarchy and the base communities have suffered.
For ten days the Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, along with five priests and other lay people have been surrounded by the police in the Episcopal Palace, unable to move freely. The prelate has been accused by the government of President Daniel Ortega of organizing violent groups to destabilize the State of Nicaragua. In this context of siege, the closure of eight Catholic radio stations, the prohibition of the traditional procession of the Virgin of Fatima in the Archdiocese of Managua, and the expulsion from the national territory of the religious Missionaries of Charity, founded by the Mother Teresa of Calcutta, who found asylum in Costa Rica.
Nicaragua, Monsignor Álvarez: We are in the hands of God, we want to do his will
In the midst of the government's hostilities against the Church, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez presided over the rosary asking for peace in the country. Another priest reported that he was prevented from leaving his parish. The Episcopal Conferences of Latin America and the Caribbean express their solidarity with the Nicaraguan people.
Parishioners light candles during a mass at the Church of Santo Domingo de Guzman, in Managua, Nicaragua. (photo: Reuters)
In the episodes of tension, this Thursday, August 11, has been added, according to agencies, the complaint of the Nicaraguan priest Aníbal Manzanares, who has been prohibited from leaving his parish, in the municipality of Terrabona, department of Matagalpa (north ).
"My good friends and brothers, just notify you that the Police this morning have notified me that I do not have permission to go out, I cannot go out to the streets, to processions, to activities outside the parish church, so I think they are watching me," said the priest Manzanares, from the San José parish, in a recorded message on Wednesday, and distributed this Thursday on his social networks.
Fraternal continental Church in solidarity with Nicaragua
In the context of the political crisis, the Episcopal Conferences in Latin America and the Caribbean have raised their voices to demonstrate that the Nicaraguan people are not alone in this difficult context and have expressed their solidarity and closeness.
Mexico: "Freedom of expression and worship are fundamental rights"
In Mexico, for example, the text, signed by the President of the Episcopate (CEM), Monsignor Rogelio Cabrera, expresses his rejection of the suppression of individual guarantees, especially freedom of expression and freedom of worship. "We know that, in communities, families, consecrated life, priests, laity, children and young people, conditions are suffered that generate fear, take away tranquility and steal peace," they express.
"As an ecclesial family we join in creating awareness so that, in the face of these situations that cry out to God for social justice, attitudes of dialogue and encounter are added," affirms the CEM.
Guatemala: "Blessed are those who work for peace"
Also in Guatemala, the pastors, faced with the latest news and events of the Catholic Church "in the sister Republic of Nicaragua", show their closeness, support and solidarity, especially to the priests deprived of their liberty and to Monsignor Rolando Álvarez Lagos, bishop of Matagalpa. In the message, the prelates also refer to the importance of freedom of expression, "which is part of the rights of man," they recall.
“Our love and support extends to all Nicaraguan Catholics to whom we remind the promise made by our Savior: “I will be with you every day until the end of the world”, (cf. Matthew 28, 20). May the Immaculate Conception, a Marian face so identified with the Nicaraguan people, protect and bless that country and particularly those who experience the most difficulties.”
The Guatemalan bishops ask all the Central American brothers, especially their compatriots, that in the parishes, Christian communities, movements and groups this week they pray for peace in Nicaragua.
Costa Rica: Let a path of unity and peace be traced
In a note of solidarity, the Costa Rican Episcopal Conference echoes the message that CELAM issued, so that "a path of unity and peace" can be traced.
Finally, the pastors of the Costa Rican Church recall the words of Pope Francis, in the sense that religious freedom can be respected as a way to reach the path of brotherhood and peace (cf. Fratelli tutti, n. 279).
Under the protection of the Virgin Mary, the Episcopal Conference of Costa Rica calls all the faithful of our Church to remain in constant prayer for our brothers in Nicaragua.
Paraguay: “These are facts that violate the basic principles of the rule of law”
In Paraguay, a letter from the Presidency of the Episcopal Conference (CEP) makes public his solidarity with Monsignor Álvarez, who continues to be held in the curia along with people who accompany him.
"We fully trust that the Nicaraguan Church will have sufficient strength and will be able to unite its people through dialogue and peace," says the CEP.
Monsignor Adalberto Martínez, archbishop of Asunción and president of the CEP, underlines in the text his condemnation of "any type of violence, outrages, attacks and censorship against the Church."
Uruguay: May the Virgin guide and accompany you in building peace
In turn, the Permanent Council of the Episcopal Conference of Uruguay (CEU) published a statement from its Permanent Council, assuring its closeness to Nicaragua and to the pastors who, "in this difficult situation, continue to announce the Good News of the Gospel."
CELAM repudiates government harassment
For its part, the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopate Council (CELAM) expressed that events such as the siege of priests and bishops, the expulsion of members of religious communities, the desecration of temples and the closure of radio stations “hurt us deeply. We express our solidarity and closeness to them,” reads the text.
To CELAM's letter, the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference responded by assuring its gratitude and recalling that, as they recently stated, "our Church by nature proclaims the Gospel of peace."