AP

Pope voices worry over bishop’s detention in Nicaragua

Aug 20, 2022, 4:36 PM | Updated: Aug 21, 2022, 5:04 am

Pope Francis addresses the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican, Sunday, Aug. 21,...

Pope Francis addresses the faithful gathered in St. Peter's Square at The Vatican, Sunday, Aug. 21, 2022, during his traditional Sunday noon appearance. Calling for sincere dialogue, Pope Francis on Sunday voiced worry about the situation in Nicaragua, where police last week detained a bishop critical of President Daniel Ortega's administration as the government there turned increasingly intolerant of dissent. (AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

(AP Photo/Domenico Stinellis)

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis voiced worry Sunday about the situation in Nicaragua, where police detained several Roman Catholic clergy, including a bishop, critical of President Daniel Ortega’s administration.

Calling for “open and sincere dialogue,” the pontiff made his first public comment on the Friday raid of Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Alvarez’s residence. The detention of him and an unknown number of priests came amid worsening tensions between the church and a government increasingly intolerant of dissent.

Francis told thousands of people gathered in St. Peter’s Square for his customary Sunday noon remarks that he was closely following with “worry and sorrow” events in Nicaragua that involve “persons and institutions.” He didn’t mention the detentions.

“I would like to express my conviction and my hope that through means of open and sincere dialogue, one can still find the bases for respectful and peaceful co-existence,” the pope said.

Before Friday’s pre-dawn raid, Nicaraguan authorities had accused the bishop of “organizing violent groups” and inciting them “to carry out acts of hate against the population.”

The National Police confirmed the detentions, saying the operation was carried out to allow “the citizenry and families of Matagalpa to recover normalcy.” It didn’t cite specific charges.

“For several days, a positive communication from the Matagalpa diocese was awaited with a lot of patience, prudence and sense of responsibility, that never materialized,” the statement said. “With the continuation of the destabilizing and provocative activities, the aforementioned public order operation became necessary.”

Álvarez was held under guard at a house in Managua and allowed to meet with relatives and Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, the police statement said. The police didn’t name the priests who were taken into custody.

Álvarez has been a key religious voice in discussions of Nicaragua’s future since 2018, when a wave of protests against Ortega’s government led to a sweeping crackdown on opponents.

Ortega’s government arrested dozens of opposition leaders last year, including seven potential presidential candidates. They were sentenced to prison this year in quick trials closed to the public.

Ortega has contended the pro-democracy protests were carried out with foreign backing and with the support of the Catholic church.

The former Marxist guerrilla infuriated the Vatican in the 1980s, but gradually forged an alliance with the church as he moved to regain the presidency in 2007 after a long period out of power.

But days before last year’s presidential election that resulted in Ortega winning a fourth consecutive term, he accused the Central American nation’s Catholic bishops of having drafted a political proposal in 2018 on behalf “of the terrorists, at the service of the Yankees.” He also contended the bishops weree “also terrorists.”

In March, Nicaragua expelled the papal nuncio, the Vatican’s top diplomat in Nicaragua.

The government has shut eight Matagalpa province radio stations, seven of them run by the Catholic church.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Image:A portrait of Officer Vancouver Police Department officer Donald Sahota is displayed as he is...

The Associated Press

Man convicted of murder in death of Vancouver police officer shot by deputy

A Yakima man was found guilty of murder for his role in the death of a Vancouver police officer who was shot by a sheriff's deputy in error.

1 day ago

Image:The headquarters of Live Nation is shown June 29, 2020, in Beverly Hills, California. The Jus...

Associated Press

Government sues Ticketmaster owner and asks court to break up company’s monopoly on live events

The DOJ has accused Ticketmaster and parent company Live Nation Entertainment of running an illegal monopoly over live events in America.

4 days ago

Image: Ambulances are seen at the airport where a London-Singapore flight that encountered severe t...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Man dies after turbulence; Iran funerals; Israel media law

A Singapore Airlines flight hit severe turbulence over the Indian Ocean and descended 6,000 feet in a span of about three minutes.

6 days ago

Image: Bruce Nordstrom, left, and Jeannie Nordstrom attend the Nordstrom NYC Flagship Opening Party...

Associated Press

Bruce Nordstrom, who helped grow family-led department store chain, dies at 90

Bruce Nordstrom, a retail executive who helped expand his family's Pacific Northwest chain into an upscale national brand, has died.

7 days ago

Image:Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at the prime min...

Associated Press

World news roundup: Netanyahu arrest warrant; Assange can appeal; UK blood scandal

The International Criminal Court said it is seeking arrest warrants for Israeli and Hamas leaders, including Benjamin Netanyahu.

7 days ago

Image: In this photo released by the Iranian Presidency Office, President Ebrahim Raisi attends a m...

Associated Press

Iran president and others found dead at helicopter crash site, state media says

Iran President Ebrahim Raisi, the country’s foreign minister and others have been found dead at the site of a helicopter crash Monday.

7 days ago

Pope voices worry over bishop’s detention in Nicaragua