Second bishop detained by the dictatorship in Nicaragua

Bishop Isidoro Mora Mnsgr. Isidoro del Carmen Mora Ortega is bishop of the Diocese of Siuna, Nicaragua. | Credit: Diocese of Siuna

The Nicaraguan police arrested on Dec. 20 the bishop of Siuna, Isidoro del Carmen Mora Ortega, making him the second prelate arrested by the dictatorship headed by President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo.

The arrest of Mora, 63, came a day after the bishop celebrated a Mass in Matagalpa and asked people to pray for their bishop, Rolando Álvarez, who was placed under house arrest in August 2022 and unjustly sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison in February this year.

Currently Álvarez is imprisoned in the prison known as “La Modelo,” where political prisoners of the regime are commonly sent.

The news of Mora’s arrest was reported by various independent local media, such as La Prensa and El Confidencial, Mosaico CSI, and 100% Noticias.

According to a source cited by Mosaico CSI, the bishop was detained by the police while he was en route to Holy Cross Parish, located in the small town of La Cruz del Río Grande, to confer the sacrament of confirmation on 230 faithful.

Following his arrest, it was not known whether he was taken to Matagalpa or Managua, the country’s capital, where El Chipote, the prison known for torturing political dissidents, is located and where Catholic priests have been imprisoned in the past.

Arturo McFields Yescas, former Nicaraguan ambassador to the Organization of American States (OAS), wrote on X Dec. 20 that Mora “was detained for relaying a message and praying for the bishop of the people, Bishop Álvarez, who has been in prison for more than 500 days.”

The day prior to being arrested, Mora celebrated a Mass for the 99th anniversary of the creation of the Diocese of Matagalpa in which he stressed the support and prayers that are being offered for Álvarez by the Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference.

“I would like to express the greetings of the Bishops’ Conference of Nicaragua. We are always united for this wonderful Diocese of Matagalpa, praying for Bishop Rolando and for the journey of each of you, we are united in prayer, communion, faith, love, and endearment,” the bishop of Siuna said in his Dec. 19 homily during the Mass celebrated in St. Peter’s Cathedral in Matagalpa.

Martha Patricia Molina, Nicaraguan researcher and author of the study “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?” on Dec. 21 told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, that in addition to Mora, “seminarians Alester Saenz and Tony Palacio were also abducted” by the police.

“They were all heading to a pastoral activity [confirmations]. There is no information about their whereabouts,” she said.

Mora was born in Matagalpa and was ordained Sept. 20, 2003. Before being appointed by Pope Francis as bishop of Siuna on April 8, 2021, he was vicar general of the Diocese of Matagalpa.

In Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega, who has been in power uninterruptedly since 2007, has directed his attacks against Catholic institutions and various members of the clergy. The attacks have intensified since 2018, when the dictatorship violently repressed massive citizen protests against the regime, drawing harsh criticism from Catholic leaders, such as Álvarez.

According to the latest update of Molina's study, from 2018 to 2023 the Church in Nicaragua has been the target of 740 attacks. In 2023 alone, 275 attacks were carried out, making it the year with the most attacks against the Church during the past five years.

Álvarez, a well-known defender of human rights and considered one of the most prominent critics of the dictatorship, is unjustly imprisoned. Earlier this year he was sentenced to 26 years in prison for alleged treason after refusing to be deported to the United States along with 222 other political prisoners.

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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