Catholic radio stations closed and a parish raided in Nicaragua

Mexico City— Nicaraguan authorities have ordered the closure of Catholic media and raided a parish in the diocese of Matagalpa, the latest attack on the Catholic Church by the Sandinista regime.

Police entered the Chapel of the Child of Prague in the Sebaco community on August 1 to seize radio equipment, prompting parishioners to protest outside. Police repelled protests and fired shots in the air as church bells rang, according to video posted to social media by Divine Word Parish. The parish also released a video showing police taking away “young people from our Catholic groups”.

“We call on the national police to abandon our facilities, which belong to the Catholic people,” the parish said in a Facebook post at 6 a.m. on August 2. An earlier post at 1:20 a.m. said “police are removing the kitchen door from the parish residence.” Another message asked for the intervention of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

Pr. Uriel Vallejos, pastor, posted photos of the police entering the chapel — breaking the locks to do so. He also posted a letter from the authorities saying that Radio Católica de Sébaco was operating without a valid license and was therefore “operating illegally”.

In an August 1 statement, the Diocese of Matagalpa said communications regulator TELCOR had ordered its Catholic radio station shut down for similar reasons, saying it had been operating without a valid license since 2003. The diocese disputed that. claim, claiming that Bishop Rolando José Álvarez de Matagalpa “personally submitted documents” to TELCOR in June 2016.

“We will continue to report and denounce any situation that, like this, continues to violate freedom of expression and religion in Nicaragua,” the statement said. “We invite the people of God to continue to pray,” the statement added, praying for the protection of priests on August 4, the feast day of Saint Jean Vianney, followed by a day of prayer and fasting on August 5, “because only prayer will save Nicaragua.”

The administration of Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has treated the Catholic Church as an enemy, with priests arrested and media shut down. Catholic leaders have been cautious in their comments as the crackdown intensifies and the regime targets the church’s charitable and educational initiatives.

The government ordered the Missionaries of Charity to leave the country at the end of June, alleging that the order founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta “has not fulfilled its obligations”. The sisters officially left Nicaragua on July 6, crossing the border into neighboring Costa Rica.

Auxiliary Bishop Silvio José Baez of Managua is currently based in Miami for security reasons.

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