Rubio Urges Release of Imprisoned Nicaraguan Bishop

Rubio Urges Release of Imprisoned Nicaraguan Bishop

Grayson Bakich
Grayson Bakich
December 14, 2023

The persecution of Catholics under Dictator Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua has continued to receive international condemnation. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) recently wrote to Pope Francis I, urging him to double his efforts in having Bishop Rolando Jose Álvarez Lagos released from prison in the Central American country.

Bishop Álvarez has been highly critical of the Ortega regime, leading to his arrest in 2022. In February, he was sentenced for refusing to leave Nicaragua with the 222 political dissidents the United States received earlier this year. According to Auxiliary Bishop Silvio Jose Baez, Álvarez would not allow himself to be exiled unless the Pope told him to, which broke down negotiations with the Vatican earlier in July.

Sen. Rubio's letter said, "Evidence has since been revealed that strongly suggests that Bishop Álvarez has endured torture at the hands of the Ortega regime," making the effort to secure the Bishop's release all the more urgent.

"As you know, Bishop Álvarez has been a loyal shepherd of the Catholic faith and the essential dignity of all human life in Nicaragua, since his ordination in 1994," Sen. Rubio added, saying Álvarez's actions "led the Ortega regime to view the Catholic Church as a threat to its illegitimate rule."

Pope Francis has publicly condemned Ortega's imprisonment of Álvarez, comparing it to Nazi Germany and calling the Nicaraguan dictator "unstable" in February.

Rubio and other members of Florida's Congressional delegation have been vocal critics of Ortega and his Sandinista regime, publicly condemning the various acts of persecution against the Catholic Church and other political dissidents.

Last August, Rubio demanded increased sanctions against Nicaragua after evidence suggested there were "more than 190 attacks against the Catholic Church, its bishops, priests, faithful, and houses of worship," including "a shameful act of arson and sacrilege in the Managua Cathedral."

More recently, Representative Sheila Cherfilus-McCormick (D-FL) described how Ortega outlawed pilgrimages and shut down Catholic media. Additionally, the regime allowed a 2018 wildfire in the Indo Maiz Biological Reserve to burn without intervention, harming ethnic minorities in the region.

Finally, this August saw a Catholic Church in Nicaragua ransacked and desecrated by the Sandinistas, drawing condemnation from Rubio, Senator Rick Scott (R-FL), and Representatives Carlos Gimenez (R-FL) and Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL).

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Grayson Bakich

Grayson Bakich

Florida born and raised, Grayson Bakich is a recent recipient of a Master’s Degree in Political Science at the University of Central Florida. His thesis examined recent trends in political polarization and how this leads into justification of violence.

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