After Pope Francis’ criticism of Daniel Ortega’s regime in Nicaragua, that country’s president criticized the leadership of the Catholic Churchwhich he accused of being undemocratic, emphasizing that the faithful do not choose their authorities.
“The people should elect cardinals and there should be a vote in the Catholic people in this case everywhere, so that even the pope is elected, with the direct vote of the people, the people decide and not the mafia that is organized there in the Vatican”, said Ortega last night in a ceremony in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.
These statements come a week after Pope Francis showed up “worried” and “saddened” by the situation in Nicaraguafor the 26-year prison sentence of Bishop Rolando Álvarez and for the deportation to the United States of 222 opponents.
Nearly two weeks ago, the Ortega government released 222 opponents from prison, expelled them to the United States and stripped them of their nationality.
“The news that has arrived from Nicaragua has saddened me to a great extent”, the pontiff declared a few days ago in the Plaza de San Pedro to the crowds who flocked to the traditional Sunday blessing.
Álvarez was arrested in August last year along with several other priests and lay people. Ortega ordered the mass release of politicians, clergy, students and activists widely considered political prisoners, sending some of them on a flight to Washington on Thursday. Ortega said Álvarez refused to board the plane without being able to consult with other bishops. The bishop, who was under house arrest, was taken to nearby Modelo prison.
“I cannot help but remember with concern the Bishop of Matagalpa, Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, whom I love so much, and also the people who were deported to the United States”.
Bishop Álvarez refused to be deported and was sentenced the next day to 26 years in prison for, among other charges, undermining national integrity.
“I don’t believe in popes or kings. Who chooses the pope? How many votes does the pope get among the Christian people? If we want to talk about democracy, the people should first elect the priests of the country. The country should elect the bishops and the one with the more support from the population, since that will be the bishop”, Ortega said, reports the AFP news agency.
Last week, Nicaraguan justice system deprived 94 opponents of nationality and barred them for life from holding public officeincluding writers Sergio Ramírez and Gioconda Belli, and has also announced that it will confiscate their assets.
Nicaragua has tightened its laws to punish hundreds of opponents in the context of repression following a political and social crisis with street protests that erupted in 2018 against Ortega, in power since 2007 and subsequently re-elected in disputed elections.
Mary Ortiz is a seasoned journalist with a passion for world events. As a writer for News Rebeat, she brings a fresh perspective to the latest global happenings and provides in-depth coverage that offers a deeper understanding of the world around us.