The Christian Lawyers Association issued a petition to the Secretary General of the Organization of American States (OAS), Luis Almagro, to demand the release of the Bishop of Matagalpa and the Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez.
“If no one stops these growing abuses, religious freedom will end for all Christians in the country. The dictator has already suspended relations with the Holy See! We have to act now, publicly denounce the censorship that they are suffering from the institutions”, warns the international organization.
They denounce that this situation against the Catholic Church began more than a year ago with the “closure of Catholic media, expulsion of religious, imprisonment of priests and the ban on pilgrimages. In addition, in recent weeks, the prohibition to carry out Via Crucis on the occasion of Lent or to procession with its images during Holy Week ».
“Everyone is scared, because they have lived closely the case of Monsignor Rolando Álvarez. The bishop sentenced, after several months of house arrest, to more than 26 years in prison. A fearless man who is sacrificing his health and his freedom, for not giving in to pressure. His humiliation is being public, and every action against him is a warning to the rest of the country’s Christians,” the petition states.
The association’s legal director for Latin America, Carlos Ramírez, indicated that the judicial process against the Catholic leader is irregular, because the Ortega justice system sentenced him based on a law that was not yet in force and did not apply to him.
The Nicaraguan regime has kept Bishop Álvarez in prison since February 9, when he refused to be exiled to the United States. That day Ortega sent 222 political prisoners on a plane. In addition, he took away their Nicaraguan nationality.
To this day, his family has not been able to see him, according to local media and human rights organizations that document the case of the first bishop imprisoned and convicted by the Nicaraguan dictatorship.
The bishop has more than seven months since he was taken by force and kidnapped from the Episcopal Palace of the Diocese of Matagalpa, from where he was violently taken at dawn on August 19, 2022. For 15 days he had already been under siege without the possibility of go out to his pastoral work.