In the last four months, the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has prohibited at least six large religious processions in different departments of the country, as part of a repressive escalation against the Catholic Church that has left, so far, a bishop in “House for jail” and nine other priests in jail.
The restrictions to carry out these processions of patron saints and other solemnities of the Catholic religion have been carried out while the regime tries to sustain its discourse of “Christian Government” with its own celebrations, exhibitions of saints and the upcoming celebration and setting of altars of the Immaculate Conception. Concepción de María, on Hugo Chávez avenue.
This is a practice that he has used since previous years, when he appropriated the patron saint festivities of Managua due to the Catholic Church’s willingness not to bring the image of Santo Domingo as a preventive measure against the covid-19 pandemic.
The religious celebrations it has prevented in 2022 include the farewell procession of the image of the Pilgrim Virgin of Fatima, who was in Nicaragua for two and a half years and the church could not carry out a last procession in the streets of Managua because Ortega prevented, through the National Police, its realization for “internal security reasons.” The suspension order was replicated in Siuna, Telpaneca and several municipalities in Matagalpa.
The suspension of religious activities for “security reasons” has also been carried out with other religious processions from different departments of the country. In Masaya, the regime restricted the celebrations of San Jerónimo and San Miguel Arcángel, which began their festivities last September, and a few days ago it prevented the traditional tour of La Santa Cruz, a strong Christian symbol for the Monimbo people who have a devotion since 1772, when the Masaya volcano erupted.
Another of the restricted celebrations was the procession of the Virgen de la Merced, patron saint of the Diocese of Matagalpa. The bishop of this diocese, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, has been detained under house arrest for three months.
In Ciudad Darío, Matagalpa, the traditional procession of the Virgin Mary through the municipality was also suspended. Consequently, the San Pedro parish ordered that the image be taken to each neighborhood where a mass will be held at six in the morning. However, there will no longer be processions at night or at dawn.
In Managua, the Cathedral has held the celebrations that traditionally have processions in the streets, such as the Solemnity of Jesus Christ King of the Universe, celebrated on November 20, within its grounds. This Sunday, it will celebrate the descent of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, which begins the novena for the national celebration of the Gritería, with an equal procession. Meanwhile, that day Ortega regime will inaugurate the altars of State institutions in honor of the Virgin Mary.
Bishop recalls that “Jesus does not want a silent Church”
Monsignor Silvio Báez, exiled due to the persecution of the Daniel Ortega regime, during his homily on November 13, 2022, made an emotional appeal to the Catholic Church of Nicaragua to raise its voice against the persecution of priests unleashed by the Ortega regime.
The Carmelite bishop expressed on that occasion that “Jesus does not want a silent Church, but a Church full of wisdom, which knows how to speak the word of truth with meekness, but with clarity and courage.”
The bishop, who has been in exile since 2019 due to the persecution of the dictatorship, noted that “Christians have not only been persecuted in the primitive Church, but today they are also persecuted and taken to jail for their cause, for announcing the truth of the Gospel and denounce sin and “injustice”.
The ecclesiastical authorities of Nicaragua have maintained a hermetic silence about these outrages. On October 31, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes in Rome alluded to an alleged dialogue with the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo.
“We must continue the dialogue, we must always continue the dialogue. The dialogue begins but we don’t know when it ends, we have to keep going, always promote it. The Pope always gives us this indication: the dialogue cannot end”, said Cardinal Brenes on that occasion.
“We must always continue the dialogue. The dialogue begins but we don’t know when it ends, we have to keep going, always promote it. The Pope always gives us this indication: the dialogue cannot end”, added Cardinal Brenes after participating in the presentation of a document from the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Council (CELAM).
Worrying silence from the Catholic Church
The lawyer and activist Martha Patricia Molina has dedicated herself to developing two specialized studies that document the attacks suffered by the Catholic Church by the Ortega dictatorship.
Molina said that “the silence of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference on specific issues is worrying, including the increase in hostilities against the Church and mainly with the priests who are imprisoned and following an illegal and unconstitutional process, and also regarding to the kidnapping of Bishop Álvarez”.
“I do not know the strategy of the bishops in relation to this silence, but I consider that at no time is it because they are accomplices or are they blessing the injustices that are committed daily. What is certain is that injustices must be called by name, as the Episcopal Conference demonstrated in the 1980s, when the Sandinistas also persecuted the church,” he added.
Molina appreciated that the hostility towards the Catholic Church will continue in 2023. “The Church has its own dynamics and only they know what is best at this time, that they are persecuted and criminalized by this dictatorship. The Catholic Church by its nature will always seek a dialogue, but Mr. Ortega is not interested in dialogue and less if his interlocutors are bishops and priests, “he pointed out.