There are now 18 Catholic bishops, priests and seminarians kidnapped and unjustly imprisoned by the dictator Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua.
The bishops are Rolando Alvarez, from Matagalpa, deprived of his freedom in August 2022, and Isidoro Mora, bishop of Siuna, kidnapped last December 20 after asking for prayers for Bishop Alvarez during a mass.
Although the regime qualifies as “detentions” the deprivation of freedom of the prelates, in reality they are kidnappings, followed by imprisonment without any legal process or through irregular processes.
Most of the priests deprived of their freedom are from the Archdiocese of Managua: Monsignor Carlos Avilés, vicar general of the archdiocese; Monsignor Silvio Fonseca, parish of Santa Faz church, and diocesan vicar of Family, Children and Youth; Héctor Treminio, parish of Santo Cristo de Esquipulas church; Mykel Monterrey, parish of Nuestra Señora de Candelaria church; Raúl Zamora, parish of Jesús de la Divina Misericordia church; Gerardo José Rodríguez, parish of Purísima Concepción church; Monsignor Miguel Mántica, parish of San Francisco de Asís church; and Ismael Serrano, parish of San Miguel Arcángel church.
Also: Pablo Villafranca, parish of Nuestro Señor de Veracruz Church in Nindirí; Fernando Calero, parish of Nuestra Señora de Fátima Church in Matagalpa; Marcos Díaz Prado, parish of Santo Tomás Apóstol Church in Puerto Corinto; Jader Hernández, parish of Madre del Divino Pastor Church in Nejapa; and José Gustavo Sandino Ochoa, parish of Nuestra Señora de los Dolores Church in Santa María de Pantasma.
And three seminarians: Alester Sáenz and Tony Palacio, kidnapped along with Bishop Mora; and Francisco Odorico Castilblanco, kidnapped on January 2 in San Sebastián de Yalí.
Daniel Ortega and his wife unleashed during the last 5 years an intense persecution against the Catholic Church for not submitting to their whims. In 2022 the apostolic nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag and the Congregation of the Sisters of Charity were expelled from the country; and in October 2023, 12 priests who had been held hostage for months in Sandinista prisons. Silvio Baez, auxiliary bishop of Managua, has been in exile since 2019.
In the last five years, the Ortega dictatorship perpetrated more than 740 attacks against Catholics: kidnappings, imprisonments, forced banishments, closure of churches and radio stations, death threats, desecration of temples, and prohibitions to public acts of faith. In 2023 alone, 275 of these aggressions took place. It was the most violent year against the Church during the five-year period.
The numbers of the persecution can be known thanks to the courageous and careful documentation work of Nicaraguan lawyer Martha Patricia Molina, who participated in one of the Transatlantic Dialogues in October 2022.