On the night of Sunday, Oct. 1, the dictatorship in Nicaragua arrested two Catholic priests from the Diocese of Estelí and one from the Diocese of Jinotega, both in the northern part of the Central American country.

The newspaper El Confidencial confirmed on Sunday that those detained in Estelí, whose diocesan administrator is the imprisoned bishop Rolando Álvarez, are Father Julio Ricardo Norori from the St. John the Evangelist Parish in the town of San Juan del Río Coco, Madriz Department                      (administrative district), and Father Iván Centeno from Immaculate Conception of Mary Parish in the town of Jalapa in Nueva Segovia Department.

The third priest arrested, according to various sources, is Father Cristóbal Gadea, pastor of Our Lady of Mercy Church located in the El Cuá sector of Jinotega Department.

The arrest of a fourth priest, Father Erick Ramírez Velásquez of Christ the King Parish in the town of Telpaneca in Madriz Department, had also been reported. However, the church stated Oct. 2 on its Facebook page that the priest was in “perfect” condition.

The reasons behind the arrest of the priests still remain unknown.

A source told the newspaper La Prensa that the arrests were not made by the police but by armed individuals traveling in Toyota Hilux pickup trucks. The source said: “We have no information about their whereabouts, but we believe that they were transferred to Managua.”

Nicaraguan researcher and lawyer Martha Patricia Molina charged Oct. 2 on Facebook that “paramilitaries and police began an intimidation and kidnapping operation against the priests and parishioners.”

“There are three kidnapped priests. At least five were ‘visited,’ taken away, threatened, and returned. In the Diocese of León there was also intimidation from the police,” Molina wrote.

According to the lawyer, the three arrested priests were “clear in their homilies,” since they constantly addressed “the themes of the Gospel, above all, the injustices that are experienced daily.”

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Upon hearing the news, the exiled auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio José Báez, denounced on X the “ferocious persecution against the Catholic Church” by the “Sandinista dictatorship of Daniel Ortega.”

The prelate asked “the Church throughout the world for their prayers for Nicaragua and for our persecuted Church.”

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