Bishop José Antonio Canales of the Diocese of Danlí in Honduras said in an interview with the Nicaraguan media Confidencial Digital that Bishop Rolando Álvarez, unjustly convicted of treason by the Daniel Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua, “is not going to be silent” even though he is in prison.

Canales, whose diocese is 35 minutes from Nicaragua and who has spoken out on different occasions for the release of Álvarez, commented in the interview on the current situation of the bishop of Matagalpa.

“He’s not going to be silent. He is not a man to stay silent. The situation is quite complex because he wants to be free, but in Nicaragua; [he wants to] return to his flock. Bishop Álvarez is convinced that the Lord has him as pastor of the Diocese of Matagalpa and he’s not going to give up being a pastor, because for us this is God’s design. This is how we understand it,” the bishop of Danlí explained.

“He feels that he must return to his flock. And in this sense, returning to his flock is not negotiable, because he is still bishop of Matagalpa,” Canales pointed out.

The Honduran prelate assured that the Church in his country is continually praying and that “in the Danlí cathedral there is always the figure of Bishop Rolando Álvarez.”

“I believe that throughout the world the situation of Bishop Rolando Álvarez is known; we are placing his life, his ministry, in the hands of the Lord,” he continued.

Álvarez was sentenced Feb. 10 to 26 years and four months in prison, accused by the regime of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, of “treason against the homeland.”

Recently, the prelate was briefly released from the “La Modelo” prison and there was speculation about his leaving the country. However, the negotiations failed and he was returned to prison on July 5.

Regarding the sentence imposed on Álvarez, Canales stressed that “it’s a very ridiculous situation.”

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“I’m telling you as a lawyer, because I’m a legal professional, that it left me perplexed,” he said.

“Everyone knows … that he refused to be put on that plane to go into exile, because the next day the revenge was precisely that sentence, which has no legal basis,” he said.

Canales was referring to Álvarez’s decision to refuse to join the group of 222 former political prisoners deported to the United States on Feb. 9, one day before he was sentenced for treason.

After emphasizing that the regime knows that “the figure of Bishop Rolando Álvarez is very strong, no longer at the national level, but that they themselves have catapulted him, and he is an international figure of resistance today,” Canales expressed his concern for the safety of his brother bishop in prison.

Regarding the persecution by the Ortega dictatorship against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, with the imprisonment of priests, the expulsion of women religious, the confiscation of assets and universities, and the closure of Caritas — an institution that helps the poorest people — Canales noted that “uprooting people's faith is something that historically has never been possible.”

“On the contrary, the more people feel attacked, their spiritual values attacked, the deeper they go and they become even stronger. That has been going on for 2,000 years,” he said.

Canales encouraged Nicaraguans to not forget that “when there is a Good Friday like the one you are going through today, that Way of the Cross, do not forget that there will be Easter Sunday. That is our faith.”

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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.