Persecuted bishop in Nicaragua tells faithful to overcome evil with good

Bishop José Álvarez Lagos Nicaragua Bishop José Álvarez Lagos surrounded by police officers on Aug. 4, 2022. | Diocese Media TV Merced / Diocese of Matagalpa

The bishop of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Rolando Álvarez, who has been kept under house arrest by the Nicaraguan police for eight days, called on the faithful not to be afraid because evil never prevails.

Since Aug. 4, the regime of President Daniel Ortega has not allowed Álvarez to leave the chancery, with police officers stationed at the door and around the premises. The prelate remains inside with 10 other people, including priests, seminarians, and laity.

In his homily for the Aug. 11 Mass celebrated in the chancery chapel,  Álvarez recalled that Christ taught that one must not harbor resentment but must always forgive, defeating “evil with the force and power of good.”

“We are here, gathered together and under detention, already on the eighth day that we are spending today,” he said at the beginning of the Eucharist. “Our 11 lives are in the hands of the Lord.”

Álvarez said that thanks to God, they are in good health, living in community, and celebrating the Eucharist “with inner strength, with peace and serenity in our hearts” that “can only come from God.”

“We are experiencing a retreat in the presence of the Lord. All things work together for good for those who love the Lord, says the apostle St. Paul, and we are totally convinced that everything is happening for our good, because God loves us and because we love him,” the prelate said.

Álvarez assured that “painful experiences do not happen in vain; they don’t fall into a void. These experiences are offered to the Lord and God returns them in blessings for us.”

The bishop of Matagalpa, who expressed his gratitude for the thousands of expressions of solidarity, prayers, and rosaries, said in his homily that Christ calls his disciples not to harbor resentment and to always forgive.

The prelate said that when you want to harm another person, that “means that the devil has managed to penetrate your heart and has managed to enter in, infecting your heart. You shouldn’t allow that.”

“Evil is defeated by the power of good. Good is always more powerful. Good is eternally powerful. Evil is tremendously limited, even though it makes more noise,” he noted.

“Evil, by its demonic nature, always tries to confuse us by making us think that it’s the one that wins and that it’s greater than good, but this is a temptation from Satan to make us despair, to make men and women of good will despair,” he pointed out.

The bishop of Matagalpa encouraged Nicaraguans not to fall into despair, because “that’s another temptation we face, because a people without hope is a self-entombed people.”

Instead, he invited the faithful to be “inundated with the hope” of Christ, who defeated death.

“It is the hope of the grain of wheat that dies and that is the only way it can produce much fruit,” he said.

The Nicaraguan bishop recalled the Gospel account of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, when the apostles were frightened because they believed that the boat would sink. Christ, he affirmed, “always overcomes storms.”

Álvarez said that their hearts are “full of forgiveness” and of the “mercy of God” and that they are offering “this difficult situation that we are experiencing for you.”

“Don’t have the slightest doubt that the Lord is blessing you, because he is daily accepting our offering for you. And keep offering your prayers and supplications for us,” he encouraged.

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This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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