The Vatican confirmed on Thursday that it would welcome 12 Catholic priests released from detention in Nicaragua after reaching an agreement with the government of Daniel Ortega.
In the midst of a conflictive relationship, the Vatican confirmed that it will receive the twelve priests and detailed that “they will be received by an official from the Secretariat of State in the afternoon and housed in some facilities of the diocese of Rome,” they added.
The government of Daniel Ortega confiscated the home of the writer Gioconda Belli
According to reports, the group of clerics had been sentenced to prison after criticizing the government of Daniel Ortega.
Among the priests deported to the Holy See, the name of Bishop Rolando Álvarez does not appear, who, for the second time, chose prison over exile, as confirmed by Vatican authorities.
The bond between the church and the government of Nicaragua continues from bad to worse. In March, Ortega threatened to suspend ties with the Vatican after Pope Francis defined his government as a “rude dictatorship.”
On that occasion, the Supreme Pontiff noted: “With great respect, I have no choice but to think about an imbalance in the person who leads” in a clear reference to President Daniel Ortega.
Pope Francis appointed former judge Eugenio Zaffaroni as director of a Vatican institute
When asked by the Vatican about the charges faced by its clients, the Central American government indicated that “they had been prosecuted for various reasons,” without specifying what they were.
The consultation carried out by the Holy See also did not respond to the charges that the priests faced nor did it clarify how many were imprisoned or under house arrest.
According to media opposed to the Nicaraguan government, the priests deported to Rome were “political prisoners” who had been detained for criticizing the Ortega government and supporting protests against its policies in 2018.
On that occasion, the protests and subsequent government repression left 300 people dead. Of Nicaragua’s 6.3 million inhabitants, half are Catholic.
The UN reinforces investigations in Nicaragua on human rights
Faced with accusations from the foreign media that covered the protests, Daniel Ortega defined the event as a coup promoted by Washington; prompting widespread international condemnation.
While Daniel Ortega tries to distance himself from responsibilities, the United States and the European Union maintain sanctions against the Managua government.
Upon his return to power in 2007, after overthrowing Somoza, Daniel Ortega imprisoned or exiled ideological dissidents and political rivals.
Among the most controversial decisions since his inauguration, the elimination of the presidential term limit stands out. Ortega, currently, has total control of all branches of the State.
Álvarez, the “traitor” bishop
The bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, was sentenced to 26 years in prison after refusing to board a plane with 222 political prisoners that was transporting them to the United States.
The government of Daniel Ortega decided to strip him of his Nicaraguan nationality and citizenship. Prior to his confinement, Álvarez had openly criticized restrictions on religious freedom.