Conflicts & War

Nicaragua reaches agreement with Vatican to free bishops and priests

San José, Jan 14 (EFE). – The government of Nicaragua, led by Daniel Ortega, announced Sunday that it reached an agreement with the Vatican to free the imprisoned Nicaraguan bishops Rolando Álvarez and Isidoro Mora, along with 15 priests and two seminarians.

“We deeply thank the Holy Father, Pope Francis, the Secretariat of State of the Holy See, its head, Cardinal, His Most Reverend Eminence Pietro Parolin, and his working team for the very respectful and discreet coordination that made possible the trip to the Vatican of two imprisoned bishops, fifteen priests and two seminarians,” the Nicaraguan presidency said in a statement.

“They have already been received by the Vatican authorities, following agreements of good faith and goodwill aimed at improving communication between the Holy See and Nicaragua,” the government added.

The release comes after Pope Francis, during the Angelus on Jan. 1, expressed his “concern” over the detention of Catholic priests in Nicaragua and asked for dialogue “to overcome problems.”

The relations between the Ortega government and the Catholic Church are experiencing moments of great tension, characterized by the expulsion and imprisonment of priests, the prohibition of religious activities, and the suspension of diplomatic relations.

Counting Sunday’s releases, 37 priests have been freed and sent out of Nicaragua in the last year, not including seminarians or those who left the country for security reasons.

At the top the list of religious leaders released on Sunday is Bishop Rolando Álvaros, who was sentenced in February 2023 to more than 26 years in prison for treason.

In second place is Bishop Isidoro Mora, detained on Dec. 20 amid a wave of arrests of Catholic leaders.

The official list also includes 15 priests, 10 of whom belong to the Archdiocese of Managua, Masaya, and Carazo.

The released priests are Pablo Villafranca, Carlos Avilés, Héctor Treminio, Silvio Fonseca, Miguel Mántica, Raúl Zamora, Ismael Serrano, Mykel Monterrey, Gerardo José Rodríguez, Jhader Hernández, Óscar Escoto, Jader Guido and Fernando Calero; Marco Díaz Prado and José Gustavo Sandino Ochoa.

The seminarians are Alester Sáenz Centeno and Tonny Palacio Sequeira.EFE

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