The president of the Conference of Religious Men and Women (CONFER), Jesús Díaz Sariego, stated in an exclusive interview with Article 66 the solidarity with the Spanish Church with the Catholics of Nicaragua while highlighting the example of faith that the imprisoned Monsignor Rolando Álvarez is offering, whom the dictatorial regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison for alleged “treason against the homeland” and “dissemination of false news” against Ortega.
“Many religious congregations settled here in Spain have ties, not only historical but also current, with their brothers and sisters, so they live with a concern for solidarity and commitment to our brothers who are there having a very difficult time in Nicaragua,” said the father. Diaz Sariego.
Catholics in Nicaragua have faced religious persecution since 2018 in crescendo by the Ortega-Murillo family regime. According to the report “Nicaragua, a persecuted Church?” of the lawyer and activist Martha Patricia Molina, since the beginning of the sociopolitical crisis, 529 attacks have been recorded in the last five years, with repressive actions against priests, nuns, committed laymen and ecclesiastical social works have been carried out by the State and sympathizers related to the government party.
The priest Díaz Sariego explained that he has been able to speak with religious who were in Nicaragua and with religious orders that still remain within the country and points out that what they express to him is “bewilderment” in the face of “the virulent persecution” that the Church is experiencing in the country.
“The confusion is even greater because curiously they are congregations that are very committed to the Nicaraguan people, very committed to social work, to human promotion, to women, to caring for the elderly, the sick, children -including- on the street; that is, they have been working with the most impoverished people. How can you want to dismantle the presence that religious men and women have there (in Nicaragua), when in reality they are betting on their own fellow citizens?” questioned the CONFER president.
The religious lamented the “really inhumane” expulsion of “the entire communities in some congregation.” In July 2022, the regime expelled the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa from Calcutta. In March 2023, the state confiscated the monastery of the Trappist sisters and a community of Dominican nuns from the Anunciata were also forced to leave the country.
“In less than 24 hours the bishop of the Diocese is called, telling them ‘these sisters have to evict’ and there are truly horrifying and certainly incomprehensible cases. It gives the feeling that everything is at the stroke of the rudder, improvisation. More revenge than reason. There is no rationality in all this”, deplored the leader of the Spanish religious life.
“Angriness” of the regime against Bishop Álvarez
The also superior of the Order of Preachers in Spain stated that the granting of the CARISMA award in the category of “mission and cooperation” to Bishop Rolando Álvarez is a recognition of his mission as pastor but it is also extensive to all Catholics in the country who They are experiencing the persecution of Ortega.
“I would say that it is putting a more international voice to a tremendous injustice, because that is how we consider it. Without a fair trial, everything was rigged, with extortion before reaching that moment. Locked up first in the Episcopal Palace, then if he is with his family but without any right to defense or freedom of movement, etc. This reveals an unbridled madness and total irrationality,” stressed Father Díaz Sariego.
The president of CONFER Spain also explained that the prize awarded to the imprisoned Monsignor Rolando Álvarez seeks to value the defense of public liberties and the prophecy of the Bishop of Matagalpa, who is currently imprisoned in the “Jorge Navarro” prison and who according to According to the latest information, he would be in the gallery of El Infiernillo, a place destined for political prisoners in subhuman conditions.
“The award wants to recognize in Bishop Rolando what people represent when they embody the Gospel. He wants to reflect the defense of human rights, the defense of evangelical truth when it is run over and especially when it claims to be manipulated, because Rolando himself is being manipulated by government institutions. These extortions are intolerable”, remarked the Dominican friar.
For Díaz Sariego, the regime of the Ortega-Murillo family is showing “a grudge” against the bishop of Matagalpa and “against those who dare to raise their voices.”
“Remove nationality against your own fellow citizens. I am not aware that any country in the world has done it. It’s another tremendous injustice, like saying ‘you don’t exist’. I believe that all this is a gesture of hope. Who has won this battle is Rolando”, highlighted the Dominican friar.
Solidarity with migrants and the Nicaraguan Church
Father Jesús Díaz Sariego explained that Spanish religious life is attending to the huge number of Nicaraguan migrants who have left the country since 2018 due to repression and the country’s dismal economic performance, in the first instance in Central American countries and also in Spain. .
“The congregations have tried to make an aid response through those that have a presence in other Central American countries and that has made it easier to provide aid, primarily humanitarian. That is to say, to attend to the situation of the men and women religious (expelled) and also to the pastoral care that they carried out, because we must not forget that behind them there are many people with whom they were carrying out pastoral and humanitarian work. Religious life is not only concerned about its own members, but also about the people they have been serving (in Nicaragua),” the priest explained.
The president of CONFER maintained that as a religious life and as a Church in Spain they will continue to monitor the sociopolitical crisis and the religious persecution that the Church is experiencing in Nicaragua, also being a voice of solidarity that accompanies the country’s Catholics and denounces the rape of human rights by the Ortega regime.
“I would say (to the Catholics of Nicaragua) that we are with them, that we suffer in the geographical distance but not affectively, we suffer with you. From that pain and suffering it makes us more supportive. We do not forget them. We follow day by day very closely what is happening there and that they have many people and institutions that support them, do not forget them and are willing to continue helping them so that this moment in which they are fruitful in something better for the people Nicaraguan”, concluded Díaz Sariego.