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Pope Francis Alarmed by Jailing of Priests in Nicaragua

“I convey to them (imprisoned priests), to their families, and to the entire Church of Nicaragua my closeness in prayer,” expressed the holy father

Pope Francis

Pope Francis from the window of the Apostolic Palace after praying the first Angelus of the year 2024. Photo: EFE/Claudio Peri

3 de enero 2024

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On January 1, 2024, Pope Francis expressed his “concern” over the detention of Catholic priests in Nicaragua by President Daniel Ortega and called for “the path of dialogue to be sought always” to overcome the problems.

“I follow with concern everything that is happening in Nicaragua, where bishops and priests have been deprived of their freedom. I convey to them, to their families, and to the entire Church of the country my closeness in prayer,” he said from the window of the Apostolic Palace after the prayer of the first Angelus of the year 2024.


Francis, the first Latin American pope in history, urged “insistent prayer” to the faithful listening to him from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican and “to the entire people of God.”

“Meanwhile, I hope that the path of dialogue is always sought to overcome difficulties. Today we pray for Nicaragua,” the pope concluded.

The Nicaraguan government of Daniel Ortega and the Catholic Church are experiencing moments of great tension, marked by the expulsion and imprisonment of priests, the prohibition of religious activities, and the suspension of diplomatic relations with the Vatican.

Christmas Raids

Since December 20, the Nicaraguan police have arrested a bishop, 13 priests, and two seminarians, according to human rights defenders and opposition leaders in exile.

Neither the government nor the police confirm or deny the alleged detention of these 16 religious’ figures, who join Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who on February 10th was sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison, stripped of his nationality, and had his citizenship rights suspended for life for the crime of treason.

Last August, Ortega ordered the dissolution of the Society of Jesus in the country, to which Pope Francis himself belongs, in addition to expropriating all its assets.

Months earlier, the pontiff had criticized the Ortega regime, calling it a “brazen dictatorship,” following the conviction of Bishop Alvarez.

“With great respect, I can only think of an imbalance in the person who leads (Ortega). There we have a bishop in prison, a very serious, very capable man. He wanted to give his testimony and did not accept exile,” he told Infobae.

On October 18, the Nicaraguan government released 12 priests and sent them to the Vatican after an agreement with the Holy See, although among them was not Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who refuses to leave the country.

Nicaragua has been going through a crisis since April 2018, which has intensified after the November 2021 elections, in which Ortega reelected himself for a fifth term, the fourth consecutive and the second alongside his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, with his main contenders in prison.

This article was originally published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times

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Agencia EFE

Agencia de noticias internacional con sede en Madrid, España. Fundada en Burgos durante la guerra civil española en enero de 1939.

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