Dictatorship in Nicaragua bans Stations of the Cross in the streets

Nicaragua way of the cross The Way of the Cross in a parish of the Archdiocese of Managua, Nicaragua. | Credit: El Calvario Masaya Parish

The Nicaraguan dictatorship led by Daniel Ortega has prohibited holding the Stations of the Cross in the streets the same week that the dictator accused the Church of being a “mafia.”

Local media reported Feb. 23 and 24 that the government had banned the Stations of the Cross, a traditional practice during Lent and Holy Week.

According to the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa, Father Winder Morales of the Diocese of Granada said that “the Stations of the Cross that we traditionally do on Fridays of Lent can only make its way around the cathedral.”

A source from the Church in Managua told La Prensa that “after the Ash Wednesday Mass, the authorities [police] arrived to inform them that there was no permission for security reasons to do the Stations of the Cross.”

The Nicaragua Actual newspaper published the transcript of an audio recording attributed to the bishop of León, René Sándigo, explaining to his priests how the Stations of the Cross should be done.

The government “has already told many that the Stations of the Cross can only be done inside or in the atrium of the church” but others have “not yet” been told that, he reportedly said. 

“Therefore, it’s preferable and better that we all do the Stations of the Cross inside the church or in the atrium, so that we maintain that communion and also because it may be that some are told later or they may forget or not comply,” added the audio shared by Nicaragua Actual.

“I think these are times when we can strongly internalize these beautiful images of the Lord on the way to Calvary and live them intensely. God bless you all and may it be a Lent that allows us to transcend,” the audio concluded.

Sándigo was the only Nicaraguan bishop to vote in the Nov. 7, 2021, elections; the rest abstained. The elections were described by various world leaders as a “farce” that allowed Ortega to continue in power for his fourth consecutive term after winning a reported 75% of the vote but with seven opposition candidates in prison.

Daniel Ortega has been president for more than 16 years, since January 2007.

Hundreds of faithful participated in the Stations of the Cross that took place around the Managua Cathedral on Friday, Feb. 24.

The Archdiocese of Managua published photos of the Stations of the Cross held in their parishes, some of which took place outside on the streets.

Silvio Báez, the auxiliary bishop of Managua living in exile in the United States, lamented this new prohibition by the Ortega dictatorship.

“The dictatorship of #Nicaragua has prohibited Stations of the Cross on the street,” the prelate criticized on Twitter.

“What they will not be able to prevent is the Crucified One revealing his victory in every act of solidarity, in every fight for truth and justice and in every effort to defend people’s dignity,” Báez stressed.

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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