(Madrid, Spain) On Sunday 4 September a solemn Eucharist was celebrated for the faithful of Nicaragua in the Redemptorist parish of Santísimo Redentor, in Madrid. Faced with the repressive escalation of the Ortega-Murillo dictatorship against the Catholic Church, the arbitrary arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, other priests, and lay people, we have joined the Church of Nicaragua which responds by praying for its enemies.
A large group of Nicaraguan friends from the parish prepared the celebration presided over with joy by the vice president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference and cardinal of Madrid, Fr Carlos Osoro. As a Church in Mission, we have welcomed the Nicaraguan exiles in Madrid in the Eucharist in need of the affection and recognition of the Church.
Several Spanish bishops showed their solidarity and communion with the Nicaraguan people and the Church at large. The president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference, Msgr. Omella, called the arrest of Msgr. Álvarez “unfair and undemocratic”. Bishop Álvarez is known to be innocent, as are prisoners of conscience, political prisoners, human rights defenders, and the community of the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta.
The Cardinal and Archbishop of Madrid Don Carlos Osoro appealed to deepen our call of being Christians, becoming aware of what it means to be brothers with one another following Jesus. From that call to the fraternity in our search for peace, he told us: “No brother can take another brother’s freedom.”
Our goal has been to join the Nicaraguans who are praying for their enemies. We unite in prayer and denunciation together with the exiles in Madrid. We meet because we believe in the power of prayer, in the intercessory value of Christ. We acknowledge the importance of communion with the Catholicity of the Church and in the progress and good of people.
We pray to get back the democratic values, respect for human rights, the defence of the dignity of all Nicaraguan citizens, and the untouchable rights of religious freedom and freedom of the press. Respect for those who, seeking the good of their people, oppose the current government.
Let us pray for the laity subjected to the silence of fear, journalists forced into exile or imprisoned in prison, imprisoned priests, and bishops separated from their communities, we place them as Church before the Lord. Since the political prisoners are innocent, we demand that they be released soon.
Some of those present at the Eucharist are exiles who have tried not to be captured by the cameras for fear of reprisals by the dictatorship against relatives who still live in their country. We pray that the forceful exile will stop. We remember the young people murdered in April 2018 and with special respect, we join the suffering of their mothers and their families.
We pray that the Bishop of Matagalpa may return to his Diocese and carry out his pastoral work based on the prophetic values of the Gospel, and remain in the land where he was born.
The Eucharist ended with typical dances and the printed distribution of the Declaration of the Clergy of the Diocese of Estelí, in which the dictators are bravely asked: “What do you want?” (…) “Our mission is to evangelize, to carry out peaceful pastoral care. By nature, we are peace lovers, a peace that is based on truth, justice, freedom, and love. We preach the commandment of love that Jesus left with us. We strive to reconcile the people who have divided with their way of proceeding. We preach that it is possible to be brothers and sisters even if we are different.”
José Miguel de Haro CSsR