Nicaraguan police banned a Catholic procession in the capital Managua on Saturday, citing internal security reasons, the local archdiocese said on Friday. The pressure on the church in the country has intensified this year.
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In response, the archdiocese asked the faithful to spend Friday in prayer and fasting, and to attend Mass at the Cathedral of Managua on Saturday, skipping the procession that was supposed to be a closing ceremony for the country’s Marian Congress and the farewell to the Portuguese image of Our Lady of Fátima.
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Relations between Church and government in Nicaragua
Relations between the Catholic church and the Nicaraguan government have been strained since the church tried to serve as a mediator in 2018 after an Ortega-backed social security proposal sparked protests across the country.
The Central American country has accused several priests and bishops of conspiring since the church demanded justice for the more than 360 killed during the demonstrations, according to figures compiled by human rights organizations.
The move comes just a week after the Ortega government took seven Catholic radio stations off the air.
The stations were led by Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who heads the Diocese of Matagalpa and Esteli, and is critical of Ortega.
Álvarez is the subject of investigations for alleged conspiracy, and has been imprisoned in the diocese’s episcopal palace, surrounded by police, for two weeks.