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 | United States Conference of Catholic Bishops

USCCB President Acknowledges Hope and Charity Amidst the Darkness Besetting the Catholic Church of Nicaragua

February 21, 2023 | On February 9, the Catholic community in the United States rushed to assist the 222 Nicaraguans who arrived on U.S. soil after being exiled by their government. The following day, February 10, the government of Nicaragua sentenced Bishop Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, to twenty-six years in prison, stripped him of his citizenship, and imposed a heavy fine. Archbishop Timothy P. Broglio of the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), addressed the continuing deterioration of human rights and religious freedom in Nicaragua:

“I am proud and grateful that the Catholic community of the United States—from dioceses and local Catholic Charities agencies to Catholic Charities USA and the USCCB—was among those that mobilized quickly to welcome the Nicaraguan exiles as they were stripped of their citizenship before boarding the plane. These 222 individuals were welcomed on U.S. soil on February 9 and are being assisted by U.S. government authorities and partners. How can any regime deny citizenship to its citizens?

“On February 10, however, Bishop Rolando Alvarez—languishing in regime detention since August and fallaciously charged with ‘undermining national integrity and the propagation of false news,’ was sentenced to twenty-six years in prison, stripped of his citizenship, and was imposed an exorbitant fine. His sentencing marks yet another escalated human rights violation in the ongoing ordeal the Catholic Church faces in Nicaragua. As has been stated before, since 2018 the Nicaraguan regime and its allies have been implementing a policy of severe aggression against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua—including calculated profanations of the Blessed Sacrament as a means of terrorizing the Nicaraguan faithful.

“Yet, at this dark hour, courageous hope, charity, and solidarity are bearing witness to the enduring vitality of the faith of the people of Nicaragua and among Catholics worldwide supporting the Nicaraguan faithful. I join our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in his exhortation to those responsible in Nicaragua, that ‘through an open and sincere dialogue, the basis for a respectful and peaceful coexistence might still be found.’ I also call on the U.S. government and other partners to continue to pursue the release of Bishop Alvarez and the restoration of human rights in Nicaragua.”