AMERICA/NICARAGUA - Rumors of Bishop Álvarez's alleged release denied

Thursday, 6 July 2023

Managua (Agenzia Fides) - Late in the evening yesterday, July 5, 2023, news spread of the release of five priests who, together with Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, had been sentenced to more than 26 years in prison by the regime of Daniel Ortega. The Bishop of Managua, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, meanwhile, denied Bishop Álvarez's release and described the news as "pure speculation". In a statement to La Corporación radio station, Bishop Brenes said that Bishop Álvarez is still being held in the maximum security prison "La Modelo". The Archbishop clarified in this regard that he had not yet personally spoken to the Bishop of Matagalpa, who is also the apostolic administrator of the Diocese of Estelí. "I currently have no information about the release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez," also said the Auxiliary Bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez. "I sincerely hope that, thanks to his deep faith and the unceasing prayers of the People of God, he will soon be free. I invite the whole Church to hope in God and to continue to pray for him," said the auxiliary bishop, who has been in forced exile in Miami since February 2023. The five released priests are: Manuel Salvador García Rodríguez, parish priest of the Church of Jesus el Nazareno, in the municipality of Nandaime, department of Granada; José Leonardo Urbina, former parish priest of the Church of Perpetual Help in Boaco, in the Diocese of Granada; Eugenio Rodríguez Benavides, former parish priest of the parish of Divina Providencia de Jalapa, in the municipality of Nueva Segovia, belonging to the Diocese of Estelí; Leonardo Guevara Gutiérrez, parish priest of Estelí Cathedral; Jaime Iván Montesinos, parish priest of the parish of San Juan Pablo II in the municipality of Sébaco, department of Matagalpa. According to the local weekly Semana, in recent months Daniel Ortega's government has revoked the citizenship of dissidents, expelled ambassadors from the country and shut down thousands of national and international non-governmental organizations, as well as the media and religious organization. (AP) (Agenzia Fides, 6/7/2023)