U.S. Bishops’ Chairman for International Justice and Peace Calls for Restoration of Religious Freedom and Human Rights in Nicaragua
WASHINGTON – In yet another move denounced by human rights campaigners worldwide, the Nicaraguan Government on December 13 officially charged Bishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Estelí with serious though spurious crimes. Bishop David J. Malloy of Rockford, chairman of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ (USCCB) Committee on International Justice and Peace, issued the following statement denouncing this injustice against Bishop Alvarez, and called for immediate de-escalation:
“It is with dismay that we witness the continued deterioration of religious freedom and human rights in Nicaragua. On December 13, Bishop Rolando Alvarez – who had been kidnapped by the regime and isolated under house arrest without due process since August for denouncing the regime’s human rights abuses and the breakdown of the democratic order in Nicaragua – was charged with ‘undermining national integrity and the propagation of false news.’ He is scheduled to appear before a regime tribunal on January 10, 2023. Bishop Álvarez is being held under the strictest isolation, and his deteriorated physical appearance is a testament to the particularly difficult conditions of his house arrest.
“Since the bloody crackdown on peaceful protestors in 2018 – when my predecessor Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio traveled to Nicaragua to express our solidarity with our brother bishops and the people of Nicaragua – the regime and its allies have been implementing a policy of severe, systematic physical, rhetorical, and institutional aggression and intimidation against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. This has included unjust detentions, violence, prohibition of priests from returning to Nicaragua, desecrations of sacred images, and even profanations of the Blessed Sacrament.
“I call on the U.S. Government and the international community to pursue the immediate release of Bishop Álvarez, the restoration of religious freedom and human rights guarantees, and initiate a process of restoring the democratic order and the rule of law in Nicaragua.”