Sixth priest arrested in Nicaragua in last nine days, thirteen so far this year

Seen above is Nicaraguan bishop Rolando Álvarez, who was expatriated and is serving a 26-year prison sentence for alleged treason, as punishment for opposing the government of Daniel Ortega, in Managua, Nicaragua.

Text: Agencia EFE
Photography: Agencia EFE

Translated by: Amy Patricia Morales


Nicaraguan priest Ramón Esteban Angulo Reyes was arrested by National Police agents, becoming the sixth parish priest arrested in Nicaragua in the last nine days, and bringing to 13 the number of arrests so far in 2023, parishioners denounced Monday. 

Parishioners told the Nicaraguan press that Angulo Reyes, pastor of Our Lady of Fatima church in the Wapy community in the Autonomous Region of the Southern Caribbean Coast, was arrested Sunday afternoon by police officers after summoning him to a meeting.


The National Police, headed by Francisco Díaz, the in-law of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, has not referred to this complaint. Nor did they comment on previous arrests.


Between Sunday and last Monday, Nicaraguan priests José Iván Centeno, Julio Ricardo Norori, and Cristóbal Gadea were detained by the National Police, who transferred them to Managua.


On Thursday night, priest Álvaro Toledo was arrested, and on Saturday priest Yesner Cipriano Pineda Meneses was arrested.


These five priests belong to the diocese of Estelí, whose apostolic administrator is Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, sentenced last February to 26 years and 4 months in prison on treason charges. Angulo Reyes belongs to the diocese of Bluefields, in the southern Caribbean of Nicaragua.


Affected parishes cancel Mass


Martha Patricia Molina, a religious researcher and author of the report titled “Nicaragua: A persecuted Church?” follows the targeting of priests in Nicaragua, and shared through her account on the social network X (formerly Twitter) that “of the parishes where priests were kidnapped, most of them are not celebrating mass”.


Communities in the interior of Nicaragua left without priests are celebrating the word and praying for the prompt return of their priests. They only want the consecrated to continue praying with him,” she added.


According to Molina, agents under the Ortega government maintain surveillance of a number of priests, whom they photograph daily. She did not rule out the arrest of more priests.


The relations between the Ortega government and the Catholic Church are marked by expulsion and the imprisonment of priests, prohibition of religious activities, and a suspension of their diplomatic relations.


In an interview with Infobae, Pope Francis called the Sandinista government a “gross dictatorship”, pointing out “an imbalance of the person who leads” the country.


Since April 2018, Nicaragua has faced political and social crises, accentuated after the controversial general elections of November 7, 2021, in which Ortega won reelection for a fifth term, fourth consecutive and second with his wife, Rosario Murillo, as vice president, with his main contenders in prison or in exile.

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