Catholic Bishop in Nicaragua Put Under House Arrest, Priests, Seminarians Sent to Jail

Bishop Rolando José Álvarez of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, was placed under house arrest by the police of Daniel Ortega's regime in early August 2022. Photo credit: Diocese of Matagalpa

The Nicaraguan national police said that the kidnapping of Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, this morning was carried out to "recover normality for the residents and families of Matagalpa."

In a statement released this morning, the police, who serve the regime of President Daniel Ortega, justified their break-in just after 3 a.m. at the bishop’s residence in Matagalpa, saying the bishop would have continued with "destabilizing and provocative activities.”

Since Aug. 4, Álvarez and a group of priests, seminarians, and lay people have been prevented by the police from leaving the house and communicating with the outside world. The police insisted that they had “for several days waited with great patience, prudence, and a sense of responsibility for a communication positive from the Bishopric of Matagalpa, which never came to pass.”

According to the police statement, the bishop of Matagalpa and the other eight people who remained with him inside the bishop’s residence "were transferred, with respect and observance of their rights,” to Managua for legal inquiries.


The bishop “remains in house protection (sic) in this capital city and has been able to meet with his relatives this morning," the statement said.

The Nicaragua police also said that the Archbishop of Managua and vice president of the Nicaraguan Bishops Conference, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, visited Álvarez this morning "and both have talked extensively."

According to the police, the Matagalpa vicar, Monsignor Oscar Escoto, remains in the bishop’s residence "without any police or mobility restrictions."

The Archdiocese of Managua has not yet issued an official statement on the meeting between Brenes and Álvarez.

The Ortega dictatorship “is capable of anything”

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In statements to ACI Prensa, Nicaraguan lawyer Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, a member of the Pro-Transparency and Anti-Corruption Observatory, said that the Ortega dictatorship "is capable of anything" and "will always generate as much damage as possible.”

The jurist underscored the arbitrariness of the National Police's incursion into the episcopal house of Matagalpa, pointing out that it violates the Constitution and the Code of Criminal Procedure, which establish limitations on house arrest and home invasion. Ordinarily, it can only be done “between six in the morning and six in the evening,” according to Montenegro. 

She also stressed that the bishop, priests, seminarians, and lay people who were surrounded by the police since Aug. 4 "spent 15 days kidnapped, not detained."

"The police are acting like a criminal group that does not submit to the rule of law and once again it makes clear that Nicaragua is a dictatorship where they proceed according to the whim and state of mind of President Daniel Ortega and his consort," she said. Ortega’s wife, Rosario Murillo, has held the position of Vice President of Nicaragua, since January 2017.

The lawyer explained to ACI Prensa that "the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship proceeds arbitrarily because it knows that if it uses legal channels it would not have any legal basis, because all the crimes that are attributed to innocent citizens are false."


"Ortega fears no one"

Montenegro, the author of a report that indicates more than 190 attacks have occurred against the Catholic Church since 2018 under the shadow of the Ortega dictatorship, pointed out that "Ortega fears no one."

“This has been demonstrated by escalating the intensity of the repression,” she said. 

The jurist recalled that the Ortega dictatorship "has ordered the assassination of more than 350 Nicaraguans," referring to those killed to repress the peaceful protests of 2018, and noted that the regime has "sent into exile more than 200,000" in addition to taking “190 political prisoners.”

In the last week, the regime closed all media outlets, prompting international backlash. Montenegro voiced her skepticism about the backlash, however, noting that though the international community condemns Ortega, “they continue to finance him by granting him millionaire loans, which are used to repress and not to invest in social works.”

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"The victory will be given by the Lord"

Still, Montenegro has reason to hope while events unfold.

"I can assure you that this arbitrariness and attacks on the Church have united us more as Christians," she said, noting that "yesterday we were more than 3,500 families praying the Holy Rosary in the company of Bishop Rolando, through social media and thousands more who connected from other places.”

"We are strengthened with that peace and tranquility that only the Holy Spirit provides," she continued.

“There is no human power that can put an end to this nefarious and criminal dictatorship. Victory will be given by the Lord.” 

The last post on the bishop's Twitter account, shortly before he was kidnapped by the National Police, recalled the Gospel: "Let us worry about wearing festive garments in the Kingdom of God."