WASHINGTON - In another series of actions that have been denounced by the international community, the Nicaraguan Government has continued to target the Catholic Church in Nicaragua with abusive and obstructive surveillance, bans of public expressions of faith, and even expulsions from the country. Some of these actions were reported to have taken place during Holy Week and the beginning of Easter. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement regarding the ongoing violations of religious freedom in Nicaragua:
“As we continue to celebrate the joy of Christ’s resurrection during this Easter season, I reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with the bishops, priests, faithful, and all men and women of good will in Nicaragua, who are suffering an intensification of the Nicaraguan Government’s religious persecution. In addition to a ban on traditional Holy Week outdoor celebrations and processions, the faithful have endured consistent police harassment in churches throughout Nicaragua, confiscation of property, as well as the expulsion from the country of two women religious and a priest, the latter for calling for the release of Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who languishes in prison after being unjustly sentenced to twenty-six years in prison and stripped of his citizenship in February.
“Despite these extreme hardships, the Nicaraguan faithful, in union with their bishops and priests, have resiliently borne witness to the power of Christ’s resurrection, as they attended Easter celebrations in record numbers. I call on the United States Government and the entire international community to continue to work for the release of Bishop Alvarez, and for a restoration of peace and the rule of law in Nicaragua. May our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, patroness of the United States and Nicaragua, embrace her children during this difficult time, and illumine them with the light of the risen Christ.”