Today, Monday, the Diocese of Siona condemned the arrest and disappearance of one of its priests. Amid tensions between the government of Daniel Ortega and the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.
“On the afternoon of Sunday, August 14, Reverend Oscar Benavidez, parish priest of the Parish of the Holy Spirit, was arrested.”, in the municipality of Molokoko, in the North Caribbean Autonomous Region of Nicaragua, the Diocese of Siona said in a statement.
That jurisdiction of the Catholic Church said it did not know the reasons or reasons for the arrest of the priest. “We hope the authorities will keep us informed“, he added.
The Diocese of Siona called on the Catholic faithful to join in prayer for Benavidez, “whose sole task was and still is to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ, who is the Word, the life and the salvation of all.”
For its part, the Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (Cenidh) confirmed that the priest was arbitrarily detained. “According to the information, he was taken from his vehicle and taken on a (police) patrol to an unknown destination.Ben Shenaidah, in a statement.
Benavids is A third priest has been arrested so far this year in Nicaragua, and the ninth is in police custodyincluding Archbishop Rolando Alvarez and five other priests who have been imprisoned since the fourth day in the Episcopal Palace of the Diocese of Matagalpa (North).
Siona was the first parishioner to openly support Alvarez, who is accused by the National Police of prosecuting Alvarez Organizing violent groupsalthough it has not yet provided evidence.
Frictions in the relationship between the state and the church
The capture of this priest takes place in the middle of a series of Actions of the Sandinista regime against the Catholic Church in Nicaraguawhich includes banning the Archdiocese of Managua from posing with a pilgrim’s image of the Virgin of Fatima.
As well as the imprisonment of Bishop Alvarez with Five priests, three seminarians and two laity, In the regional episcopal see of Matagalpa, which is surrounded by special police forces.
In addition to the expulsion of a group of missionaries from the monasticism Mother Teresa from CalcuttaThe closure of eight Catholic radio stations, the cancellation of subscriptions to television programs for three Catholic channels, and the entry and forcible raid of the parish.
Ortega calledterroristsTo the bishops of Nicaragua who acted as mediators in National Dialogue Through which a peaceful solution to the crisis that the country has been going through since April 2018 has been sought.
The crisis in Nicaragua worsened after the controversial elections last November, which Ortega was re-elected to a fifth term, fourth in a row and second with his wife, Rosario Murillo, vice president, with his main rivals in prison.
Relations between Ortega’s government and the Church reached their most critical point after the authorities ordered the closure of Catholic radio stations Banned religious processions.
Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Alvarez, one of Ortega’s critics, An investigation into the alleged crime of conspiracy is underway The police surrounded him for more than two weeks in the episcopal palace of the diocese he runs in the north of the country.
During the political crisis of 2018, when there were strong protests against the Ortega government, which has been in power since 2007, the Church acted as a mediator between the protesters and the authorities.
However, relations have cracked. A bishop in exile with a number of priests and others detained in seminaries and parishes.
The Sandinista regime accused several priests and bishops of plotting against Ortega and the church demanded justice for the more than 360 people who died during the protests, most of them dissidents at the hands of armed civilians loyal to the president, according to human rights organizations. .
The Catholic community represents 58.5% of the 6.5 million people in NicaraguaAccording to the latest national census.
(With information from EFE)