Fifteen priests and three seminarians who were held in the country’s prisons by the Nicaraguan regime have been released and flown to Rome, Church sources have confirmed.
Exiled Father Uriel Vallejos confirmed that Ortega-Murillos wanted to leave Nicaragua without priests, so he wrote before deporting the religious, “another plane full of priests to be deported from the people”.
Also read: Priests exiled by regime in Nicaragua celebrate eucharist at Vatican
These religious people were on a flight that departed from Managua to Maquitia International Airport in Venezuela on the night of Saturday, January 13.
The regime has not provided official communication about the deportations, as it did with 12 priests it sent to the Vatican last October.
Among the priests released was Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos, who had been kidnapped for more than 500 days. Monsignor Isidoro Mora, bishop of Siuna, a municipality located in the mining triangle of Nicaragua’s northern Caribbean, was also deported.
More than 100 political prisoners are held in the dictatorship’s prisons and their fundamental rights are violated daily.
The other 13 priests who were on the flight are:
- Priest Pablo Villafranca, Parish Priest of Nuestra Señor de Veracruz Church in Ndiri, Masaya
- Priest Hector Treminio, Parish Priest of Santo Cristo de Esquipulas Church, Managua
- Monsignor Carlos Aviles, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Managua
- Priest Fernando Calero, Parish Priest of Our Lady of Fatima Rancho Grande, Matagalpa
- Monsignor Marcos Diaz Prado, Parish Priest of Santo Tomás Apostol Church of Puerto de Corinto
- Monsignor Silvio Fonseca, parish priest of the Santa Fez Church. Chaplain to Families, Children and Youth of the Archdiocese of Managua
- Priest Michael Monterrey, Parish Priest of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria Church of the Archdiocese of Managua
- Priest Raul Zamora, Parish Priest of Jesús de la Divina Misericordia Church of the Archdiocese of Managua
- Priest Gerardo José Rodríguez, parish priest of the Purisima Concepcion Church, located in the Belmonte district of the Archdiocese of Managua
- Monsignor Miguel Mantica, parish priest of San Francisco de Asís Church, located in the Bolonia District of the Archdiocese of Managua
- Priest Jedre Hernandez, Parish Priest of Mother of the Divine Pastoral Church in Nejapa
- Priest Ismael Serrano, Parish Priest of San Miguel Archangel Church of the Archdiocese of Managua
- Priest José Gustavo Sandino Ochoa, parish priest of the Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Church in Santa María de Pantasma, Diocese of Jinotega.
- Seminarian Alastair Sainz,
- Seminary Tony Palacio
- Seminary Francisco Odorico Castiblanco
A large portion of the exiled religious were captured in a hunt in December 2023, which worried Catholics due to the absence and lack of knowledge of the whereabouts of their pastoral guides.
Following the 2018 political crisis, relations between the Church and the Nicaraguan state broke down to such an extent that the Ortega government referred to priests as “monsters in cassocks”.
Attacks in 2023 were mainly against nuns, priests, seminarians and deacons. But they are also growing at the diplomatic level.
In front of the diplomatic corps accredited to the Holy See, Pope Francis named Nicaragua among the countries in conflict and assured that the socio-political crisis has “painful consequences” for the country and that the release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez and other religious was necessary.
News in development…
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