Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes asked on Sunday to pray for Catholic Bishop Rolando Alvarez, sentenced on Friday to 26 years in prison after refusing to go to the United States with opponents released from prison and expelled from Nicaragua.
Someone told me: “What can we do for Monsignor Rolando. To pray, that is our strength, to pray so that the Lord gives him strength, gives him discernment in all his actions,” Brenes said at the end of the mass he performed in the Managua Cathedral.
Brenes, who also serves as Archbishop of Managua, also asked in his brief message that “there be no hatred or rancor” because the Christian “has to love and has to forgive intensely,” he added.
Before the mass, the cardinal told journalists that the Church accompanies both Alvarez and the 222 opponents released from prison and exiled on Thursday to the United States.
“You heard their feelings when they arrived there, that they were happy. We continue to accompany them as we have done through prayer,” Brenes said.
Pope Francis said Sunday he was “concerned” and “saddened” by the situation in Nicaragua, especially for Bishop Alvarez.
“I cannot fail to remember with concern the bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, whom I love so much,” he added, and “also the people who have been deported to the United States.”
Among those released and expelled from Nicaragua this week are former presidential candidates, journalists, former Sandinista guerrilla commanders, former ministers and former diplomats.
All of them were deprived of their political rights and stripped of their nationality, at a time when Ortega faces pressures due to the growing authoritarianism of his government.
On Saturday, thousands of people marched in Managua to show their support for President Daniel Ortega’s decision to release and expel to the United States the opponents, accused of being “traitors to the homeland”.