Managua, Nicaragua – December 24, 2023
In an alarming development, Nicaragua witnessed the arrest of another Catholic bishop on Wednesday, escalating a prolonged crackdown on religious leaders. According to a reliable source with close ties to local church figures, Bishop Isidro Mora of the Triangulo Minero diocese, situated along the northern Caribbean coast, was taken into custody by the police.
The arrest comes on the heels of local media reports, including coverage by Despacho 505 and La Prensa, which suggested that Bishop Mora faced charges related to praying for his fellow detained bishop, Rolando Alvarez. Alvarez, a prominent critic of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, has been in custody since last year, having led mass gatherings that triggered his detention. Earlier this year, he was handed a 26-year prison sentence on treason charges after refusing expulsion to the United States.
President Ortega has been increasingly targeting Catholic institutions and leaders, including priests, whom he accuses of attempting to undermine his government. The Catholic Church in Nicaragua has found itself at the center of a contentious relationship with the government.
The incarcerated Alvarez, known for his vocal opposition to the Ortega regime, has become a symbol of resistance. His arrest and subsequent lengthy sentence underscore the government’s harsh stance against dissenting voices within the Catholic clergy.
The Triangulo Minero diocese, now mourning the detention of Bishop Mora, has yet to issue an official response. The broader Catholic bishops’ conference in Nicaragua has also remained silent, refraining from immediate comments on the unfolding situation.
This crackdown on religious figures is part of a broader pattern of strained relations between Nicaragua and the Vatican. This year saw the formal severance of ties between the two entities after Pope Francis openly criticized Ortega’s government, condemning it as a “gross dictatorship” and drawing parallels to 20th-century communist and Nazi regimes.
As Nicaragua grapples with this intensified crackdown on the Catholic Church, concerns are growing about the broader implications for religious freedom and human rights in the country. The international community closely watches as events unfold, awaiting further developments in this escalating clash between the government and religious institutions.