VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis voiced fear Sunday in regards to the scenario in Nicaragua, the place police detained a number of Roman Catholic clergy, together with a bishop, important of President Daniel Ortega’s administration.
Calling for “open and honest dialogue,” the pontiff made his first public touch upon the Friday raid of Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Alvarez’s residence. The detention of him and an unknown variety of clergymen got here amid worsening tensions between the church and a authorities more and more illiberal of dissent.
Francis instructed hundreds of individuals gathered in St. Peter’s Sq. for his customary Sunday midday remarks that he was carefully following with “fear and sorrow” occasions in Nicaragua that contain “individuals and establishments.” He did not point out the detentions.
“I want to categorical my conviction and my hope that by technique of open and honest dialogue, one can nonetheless discover the bases for respectful and peaceable co-existence,” the pope stated.
Earlier than Friday’s pre-dawn raid, Nicaraguan authorities had accused the bishop of “organizing violent teams” and inciting them “to hold out acts of hate in opposition to the inhabitants.”
The Nationwide Police confirmed the detentions, saying the operation was carried out to permit “the citizenry and households of Matagalpa to recuperate normalcy.” It didn’t cite particular prices.
“For a number of days, a constructive communication from the Matagalpa diocese was awaited with numerous persistence, prudence and sense of accountability, that by no means materialized,” the assertion stated. “With the continuation of the destabilizing and provocative actions, the aforementioned public order operation grew to become mandatory.”
Álvarez was held beneath guard at a home in Managua and allowed to satisfy with family members and Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, the police assertion stated. The police did not title the clergymen who have been taken into custody.
Álvarez has been a key spiritual voice in discussions of Nicaragua’s future since 2018, when a wave of protests in opposition to Ortega’s authorities led to a sweeping crackdown on opponents.
Ortega’s authorities arrested dozens of opposition leaders final yr, together with seven potential presidential candidates. They have been sentenced to jail this yr in fast trials closed to the general public.
Ortega has contended the pro-democracy protests have been carried out with international backing and with the help of the Catholic church.
The previous Marxist guerrilla infuriated the Vatican within the Nineteen Eighties, however regularly solid an alliance with the church as he moved to regain the presidency in 2007 after a protracted interval out of energy.
However days earlier than final yr’s presidential election that resulted in Ortega successful a fourth consecutive time period, he accused the Central American nation’s Catholic bishops of getting drafted a political proposal in 2018 on behalf “of the terrorists, on the service of the Yankees.” He additionally contended the bishops weree “additionally terrorists.”
In March, Nicaragua expelled the papal nuncio, the Vatican’s prime diplomat in Nicaragua.
The federal government has shut down seven of the eight Matagalpa province radio stations run by the Catholic church.