The Nicaraguan National Police prohibited the Nicaraguan Catholic Church from holding viacrusis processions during Lent and Holy Week, ecclesiastical sources reported this Friday.
The police order was adopted after the president of Nicaragua and Supreme Chief of the National Police, Daniel Ortega, branded as "mafia" to priests, bishops, cardinals and Pope Francis.
The bishop of the Nicaraguan diocese of León and Chinandega (west), Socrates René Sandigo, said through an audio that the police authority only authorized the Stations of the Cross inside or in the atrium of the parishes, but not in the streets.
"Many have been told by the authority that the Stations of the Cross can only be done internally or in the atrium of the church, others not yet, therefore it is preferable that we all do the Stations of the Cross better inside the temple or in the atrium so that let’s keep that communion"directed Sandigo in the audio sent to his priests and disclosed by the local press.
The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua has not officially ruled on the prohibition of Via Crucis processions, although an ecclesiastical source from the Archdiocese of Managua told the newspaper La Prensa that after the Ash Wednesday mass, the police authorities communicated "that there was no permission for security reasons to do the Stations of the Cross".
"THEY ARE A MAFIA"ORTEGA TOLD THEM
That day, in a message for the beginning of Lent, the Nicaraguan Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano asked "love the enemy"after Ortega’s attacks on the Catholic Church.
The president described the night of February 21, "mafia" to the Catholic Church and accused it of being undemocratic for not allowing Catholics to elect the Pope, cardinals, bishops and priests by direct vote.
During an act in which he honored the Nicaraguan hero Augusto C. Sandino (1895-1934), Ortega said that Jesus Christ rose from the dead in the towns and "not because of the example that priests, bishops, cardinals and popes can give, who are a mafia".
"Look at the crimes they have committed. How many crimes have they committed and crimes continue to come out every day and they are being judged! Crimes they commit for having absurd regulations"Ortega launched in Managua.
The Sandinista leader also accused the leaders of the Catholic Church of committing "crimes in the financial field" and assured that "there they have a process right now in the Vatican, for how they have embezzled millions, because they have always handled millions".
BISHOP: ORTEGA IS "ATHEIST, CORRUPT AND CRIMINAL"
The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua and exiled in the US, Silvio Báez, whose Nicaraguan nationality was withdrawn by the authorities and declared "fugitive from justice" after being accused, together with 93 other compatriots, of crimes of "treason"branded as "atheist, corrupt and criminal" Ortega after his attacks on the Catholic Church.
On February 12, Pope Francis regretted the prison sentence of the bishop critical of the Nicaraguan Government, Rolando Álvarez, and encouraged political leaders to "sincere search" of peace in that country.
Bishop Álvarez, very critical of the Ortega government, was sentenced on February 10 to 26 years and four months in prison after being found guilty of crimes considered "treason"after refusing to be exiled to the United States.