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11 Feb 2023
Thomas D. Williams, Ph.D.

NextImg:European Bishops Demand Release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez

ROME — The Bishops of the European Union (COMECE) have denounced the “systematic persecution” of the Catholic Church by Nicaraguan dictator Daniel Ortega, demanding the release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez.

“We join the voice of those who cry out for the injustice to which our brothers in Nicaragua are being subjected and we demand their immediate release,” writes the president of the Bishops of the European Union in a letter this week, specifically mentioning the case of the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez.

As Breitbart News reported, Bishop Álvarez has been judged guilty of “treason against the homeland” by the government of dictator Daniel Ortega, stripped of his citizenship, and sentenced to 26 years and four months of prison time.

“Let the defendant Rolando José Álvarez Lagos be known as a traitor of the homeland,” reads the sentence handed down by Managua district judge Nidia Camila Tardencilla.

“In the same way, be it declared that the defendant has lost his rights of citizenship in perpetuity, for perpetrating the crime of undermining national integrity to the detriment of the State and Nicaraguan society,” the ruling said.

“April 13, 2049 is established as a provisional date for the completion of the sentence,” the magistrate added.

In his letter, COMECE president Cardinal Jean-Claude Hollerich said the European bishops are following the situation in Nicaragua “with sadness and concern,” underscoring “the persecution to which our Church and certain of her members are being subjected, especial our brother in the episcopate, Bishop Rolando Álvarez.”

In his letter, which is addressed to the president of the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference, Bishop Carlos Enrique Herrera Gutiérrez, Cardinal Hollerich declares that Bishop Álvarez and the others apprehended with him have been “victims of false accusations.”

He also mentions other human rights abuses, such as the closing of Catholic radio stations, police blockades in front of churches, and other serious acts that offend religious freedom and the just social order.

“As Bishops of COMECE, we are committed to promoting freedom, democracy and justice in Nicaragua through our regular dialogue with the representatives of the EU institutions,” he writes.

In 2022, the Ortega regime expelled the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, as well as 18 nuns of the Order of the Missionaries of Charity, COMECE notes on its website.

“It also imprisoned seven priests and two collaborators in the diocese of Matagalpa, closed nine Catholic radio stations, withdrew three Catholic channels from subscription television programming and prevented processions and pilgrimages,” it adds.

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