sacerdotes de nicaragua

The Vatican welcomed 19 priests following their release by the Daniel Ortega dictatorship. These prelates join the more than two hundred opposition members released and exiled almost a year ago. The Nicaraguan government has labeled the Catholic Church as «a mafia» and bishops as «demons in cassocks.»


For over two months in the Vatican, in Rome, Bishop Rolando Álvarez and 18 other religious figures pray for their country, Nicaragua, from the Holy See, after being exiled by the Daniel Ortega dictatorship.

The «guests of the Holy See,» exiled and banished from Nicaragua, include two bishops, fifteen priests, and two seminarians, who managed to be transferred to the Vatican thanks to discreet arrangements made by Pope Francis himself and the Secretariat of State of the Holy See in Rome.

These prelates now join the 222 exiles expelled almost a year ago by the government of Daniel Ortega.

Bishop Rolando Álvarez, bishop of Matagalpa in the north of the country, an opponent of Daniel Ortega and his vice president and first lady, Rosario Murillo, had his Nicaraguan nationality revoked and was sentenced to 26 years in prison for conspiracy, spreading fake news, obstructing justice, and contempt of authority, after refusing to be deported to the United States along with the 222 opposition members released almost a year ago. Previously, he had been detained since August 2022 when the police established a blockade around his Matagalpa Diocese, about 130 kilometers north of Managua.

The Nicaraguan government had previously characterized the Catholic Church as «a mafia» and bishops as «demons in cassocks,» accusing them of supporting the social rebellion of 2018.

The list of those expelled from Nicaragua includes the bishop of Siuna (northeast), Monsignor Isidoro Mora, and several priests who hold positions in the Archdiocese of Managua, such as Vicars Silvio Fonseca, Miguel Mántica, and Carlos Avilés.

The other expelled religious figures were identified as Óscar José Escoto, Jader Danilo Guido, Pablo Villafranca, Héctor Treminio, Marcos Díaz, Fernando Calero, Mykel Monterrey, Raúl Zamora, Gerardo Rodríguez, Ismael Serrano, Jader Hernández, and José Gustavo Sandino, as well as seminarians Alester Sáenz and Tony Palacios.

This is the second expulsion of priests who were imprisoned in Nicaragua. On October 18, 2023, the government of Daniel Ortega expelled 12 priests after negotiations with the Vatican.

At the beginning of 2024, Pope Francis expressed concern about the «worrying situation in Nicaragua» and the «prolonged crisis with painful consequences for the entire Nicaraguan society, particularly for the Catholic Church.» He also called for «respectful diplomatic dialogue.»

The Opposing Bishop

Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa and Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Estelí, Monsignor Rolando José Álvarez, had been under arrest since August 2022 and refused to be exiled from his country, for which he was sentenced by Nicaraguan authorities to 26 years in prison and four months.

The charges against him included conspiracy, spreading fake news, obstructing aggravated functions, and contempt for authorities.

Bishop Álvarez had been detained by authorities since August 19, 2022, under house arrest, and since February 9, he had been in the La Modelo prison in Tipitapa after refusing to board the plane with other political prisoners who were deported to the United States.

Álvarez asked to meet with the other Bishops before traveling and then refused to board the plane. The next day, in a rushed trial, Nicaraguan justice fully deprived him of freedom.

In 2018, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez was part of the dialogue commission of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference, which sought to mediate between the government and the opponents of the policies implemented in Nicaragua.

In 2022, the Nicaraguan government also expelled the Apostolic Nuncio and 18 nuns from the Missionaries of Charity order, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, from the country. In addition, it closed various Catholic media outlets. On February 8, 2024, it revoked citizenship and expelled six priests. As of March 2024, two other priests remain imprisoned.

Through a letter, the President of the Commission of the Episcopal Conferences of Europe, Comece, Cardinal Jean-Claude Cardenal Hollerich, expressed his concern about the situation of the Church in Nicaragua «and the persecution that the Church and some of its members have been subjected to in Nicaragua in recent times.»

«We join the voice that cries out against the injustice to which our brothers in Nicaragua are being subjected and demand their immediate release,» the bishops of the European Union demanded through Comece.

At the same time, Pope Francis expressed his affection for Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, sentenced to 26 years in prison, accused of treason, as well as for the Nicaraguan citizens recently deported by the Daniel Ortega government to the United States.

«The news coming from Nicaragua has saddened me a lot, and I cannot help but remember with concern Bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, whom I love so much, sentenced to 26 years in prison, and also the people who have been deported to the United States,» said the Holy Father at the time.

Likewise, the Latin American and Caribbean Episcopal Council, Celam, the Chilean Episcopal Conference, and the Spanish Episcopal Conference raised their voices denouncing human rights violations in Nicaragua and condemning the expulsion from the Central American country of political opponents to the government.

Twelve Other «Prosecuted» Priests

On October 18, 2023, after an agreement with the Vatican, twelve «prosecuted» priests in Nicaragua for various charges, detained or under house arrest, were sent to Rome, many of them openly critical of the government of Daniel Ortega.

Although as of March 2024, the charges against the priests have not been detailed, nor has it been clarified how many were imprisoned or under house arrest, relations between the Catholic Church and the government deteriorated amid the strong protests of 2018 against Daniel Ortega, which lasted at least three months with roadblocks and clashes between opponents and supporters, leaving over 300 dead, according to the UN.

The government considered the protests as an attempted coup promoted by Washington, while the United States, the European Union, and other countries, as well as international organizations, accused it of repressing the opposition.

Given the high number of religious figures who have been ordered to leave the country or have been accused in court, diplomatic relations between Managua and the Vatican are on the verge of rupture.

Pope Francis described Ortega’s government as a «blatant dictatorship,» and the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry stated that «a suspension of diplomatic relations» with the Holy See was proposed.

It is worth noting that the Vatican’s charge d’affaires in Nicaragua, Marcel Diouf, left the country in March. Last year, Daniel Ortega expelled the nuncio, Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag. Nicaragua canceled the legal status of


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