Why is the Nicaraguan Government Cracking Down on Catholic Church? P-admin Atheist Republic

Read More Atheist Republic On the evening of August 1, police arrived at the Divine Mercy parish in the Diocese of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. The goal was to shut down one of the radio stations operated by the Catholic church.
The parish’s Facebook page broadcasted the police’s violent attack on the parish, forcing their way through the door.
Another radio station, located in the Infant Jesus of Prague chapel in Sebaco, 30 minutes from Matagalpa, was also attacked violently. According to the station, the police prevented parishioners from intervening by shooting into the air and launching tear gas canisters.

“All our radio stations have been closed. But they won’t silence the Word of God.” — Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, Nicaragua https://t.co/UTZ5XrJuZ4
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) August 2, 2022
Rolando Alvarez, the bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, said other radio stations were also shut down. “At this time, we have been informed that they have also closed Our Lady of Lourdes Radio in La Dalia, Our Lady of Fatima Radio in Rancho Grande, Radio Alliens in San Dionisio, and Mount Carmel Radio in Río Blanco,” he said.
According to TELCOR, Nicaragua’s regulatory board for telecommunication, the radio stations operated by the Catholic church have had no valid operating license since 2003.
But Bishop Alvarez, one of the most vocal critics of Daniel Ortega, Nicaragua’s president, knows the actual reason.
The Inter-American Commission on Human Rights reported that in 2018, more than 355 people were killed and 2,000 were hurt during the massive protests against social security reform supported by the Catholic church and business groups. The government also detained more than 1,600 individuals related directly to the protests.
Ortega believes that the Catholic church was instrumental during the 2018 protests, as it sheltered student demonstrators and allowed them to collect food and money under its roof.
Other figures in the Catholic church in Nicaragua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes and Bishop Silvio Baez lambasted Ortega for the violent crackdown.
Ortega’s response was to label Catholic leaders, including bishops, as terrorists. He also forced Monsignor Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, the papal nuncio, to leave the country. A move the Vatican derided, calling it an “unjustified decision.”
Ortega’s administration also arrested several church figures this month. On August 15, Oscar Benavidez, a parish priest in the diocese of Siuna, was detained. According to the diocese’s statement, they had no idea why the priest was arrested.

As relations between the Nicaraguan Church and the Sandinista regime become increasingly strained, another priest, Fr Oscar Danilo Benavidez Tinoco, has been reportedly arrested by the police. The reason of his arrest remains unknown.https://t.co/SSp1vp5Ym3
— Vatican News (@VaticanNews) August 16, 2022
This week, Bishop Alvarez was allegedly abducted by Nicaragua’s National Police, followed by the closure of another radio station operated by the Catholic church in the Diocese of Esteli.
Reuters reported that the bishop is currently being held under house arrest for alleged conspiracy against the government.

BREAKING: Nicaraguan police forced their way into the residence of Bishop Rolando Álvarez Friday morning and abducted the prelate, who had been held there under house arrest for the last two weeks.https://t.co/ocUQkKgalE
— Catholic News Agency (@cnalive) August 19, 2022
According to Amnesty International, the Catholic church’s plight in Nicaragua is “part of a broader pattern to silence organizations” critical of Ortega’s administration.
Monsignor Juan Antonio Cruz, the Vatican’s permanent observer to the Organization of American States (OAS), is apprehensive about Nicaragua’s worsening human rights crisis. During the OAS’s special session, Monsignor Cruz expressed his concern and called for parties to find a path toward “common good and peace.”
On August 21, Pope Francis called for a dialogue between the Catholic church and the government of Nicaragua.
“I am following closely, with concern and sorrow, the situation in Nicaragua, which involves both people and institutions,” Pope Francis said. “I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through open and sincere dialogue, the basis for a respectful and peaceful coexistence can still be found,” he added.

I am following with concern and sorrow the situation created in Nicaragua. I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through an open and sincere dialogue, the basis for a respectful and peaceful co-existence might still be found. #PrayTogether
— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) August 21, 2022