Biden does nothing as Nicaragua continues brutal crackdown on Catholics – AMAC
AMAC Exclusive – By Ben Solis
Last Friday, Nicaraguan police conducted a pre-dawn raid on the home of Bishop Rolando Alvarez de Matagalpa, an outspoken critic of President Daniel Ortega, arresting him for “organizing violent groups” and inciting them “to commit acts of hatred against the population.” The move is just the latest in the Ortega regime’s increasingly brazen attacks on religious and opposition figures and has drawn strong condemnation from the Pope and even the United Nations. Remarkably quiet, however, was ostensibly Catholic President Joe Biden, who continued his pattern of idleness when it came to speaking out for persecuted Christians around the world.
An avowed Marxist-Leninist, Ortega helped lead a revolution in 1979 that overthrew the ruling Somoza family, after which he served as president of Nicaragua until 1990. Ortega was re-elected president in 2006 and immediately began to restrict the government transparency and freedom of the press, as well as increasingly brutal crackdowns on opposition figures. He was subsequently re-elected by wide margins in 2011, 2016 and 2021 in contests widely dismissed as sham elections by the United States and other Western countries.
Ortega, an anti-Catholic activist, has made the persecution of religious leaders a cornerstone of his efforts to consolidate control of the country. Since 2018, Nicaraguan Catholics have documented 190 government attacks on churches and church leaders, nearly half of all acts of aggression recorded during this period. The catalog of persecution by the Ortega regime includes the closure of the remnants of religious media and publishers, the desecration of holy sites, the burning of churches, the banning of religious pilgrimages and the imprisonment priests and bishops. Ortega was often personally implicated in these persecutions, calling the bishops “terrorists” and “devils in cassocks”.
According to a shocking report, 59-year-old priest Mario Guevara was burned with sulfuric acid as he listened to his confession. The attacker was arrested but avoided jail after the regime sponsored his escape flight to Italy. On another occasion, a hooded criminal threw a Molotov cocktail at Managua’s cathedral, causing extensive damage. The regime later blamed burning candles for the blaze – but the bishop explained that no candles were allowed in the church due to the historic paintings present.
But Ortega’s number one enemy seems to be young Bishop Alvarez. who frequently declares that he owes his religious vocation to Saint John Paul II. Like the Polish pope who helped destroy the godless Soviet empire, Bishop Alvarez frequently points out that it is God, not government, that is the source of inalienable rights, including the right to life. Therefore, no government has the right to repudiate these rights. And like John Paul II, this Nicaraguan bishop teaches that the opposition must dedicate themselves to living a conscientious spiritual life and not limit themselves to protesting alone.
The regime attacked Alvarez last week after criticizing Ortega’s socialist and atheist culture of death by quoting John Paul II, who urged Americans in Newark in 1995 that without the virtues of self-discipline, diligent contemplation of truth, simplicity of life and joyful devotion to others, they would not have the inner strength to fight the culture of death that threatens the modern world.
Alvarez was arrested at his home as he attempted to join the cathedral worshipers in adoration of the Holy Eucharist. The police blocked the exits and plainclothes officers beat him. In response, he knelt on the sidewalk and delivered a videotaped blessing. The Bishop reiterated that if resistance against an ungodly regime is rooted in prayer, it will bear the fruit of peace.
Earlier on the radio, the bishop had again quoted John Paul II that the development of society does not imply dechristianization, but that in all human work, prayer establishes a reference to God the Creator. Like John Paul II, the bishop also called on the opposition to pray the rosary “which unites us in the fight which is above all spiritual and moral”.
In emphasizing a life of prayer that unites, courageous Nicaraguan Bishop Alvarez echoes the call of another Catholic bishop of the previous century who faced similar challenges. The unsung Cold War hero and Archbishop of Paris, Cardinal Aron Jean-Marie Lustiger, explained that the brotherly bond between believers is strengthened when everyone wins their fight for good over evil.
In 1980, Cardinal Lustiger declared that our civilization needed to reshape its moral conscience in order to be able to effectively defeat evil.
Born in Poland, into a family of Ashkenazi Jews, Cardinal Lustiger, who lost his mother in the Auschwitz death camp, like John Paul II, understood that Nazism and Marxism increased the choice between good and evil, much more than in a free society.
But after the fall of the Iron Curtain, faced with the emergence of a culture of death in his dear France, Cardinal Lustiger called the faithful fighters against militant Marxism martyrs. Who is the martyr? It is the Christian who makes every effort to rebuild this moral conscience.
This category includes all Americans in the pro-life movement as well as Supreme Court justices who have dared to undermine the foundations of militant atheism. It includes Bishop Alvarez, faithful clergy and Catholics in Nicaragua, as well as anyone who defends the right of Christians to witness to their love of God in the public sphere.
Cardinal Lustiger, a friend of the unforgettable John Paul II, a pope who also inspired Nicaraguan Catholics, once remarked that Italian dictator Benito Mussolini used to say that the leader is always right. But the truth, replied Lustiger, it is the martyr who is always right.
Bishop Alvarez poses a particularly potent threat to the regime given his status as a Catholic leader. Manuel Orozco, an expert on Nicaragua, told PBS News that “70% of Nicaraguans say that for them, the political opinion of religious authority at the national or parochial level was important in shaping their political views.” Orozco also pointed out that the regime likely made the decision to arrest Alvarez now because it does not fear retaliation from the international community – namely the United States.
So far they have proven themselves right in this bet. Although Pope Francis said he was following the situation in Nicaragua with “concern and pain,” he did not mention Alvarez or any of the priests arrested with him by name. This follows growing criticism from Catholic leaders in Latin America after the Vatican remained silent on the closure of Catholic media and the announcement of an investigation into Alvarez by the Ortega government more than two weeks ago.
But by far the most consistent silence has been that of Washington, DC, and President Joe Biden. As a candidate in 2020, Biden has often invoked his Catholic faith and the need to defend religious freedom and democracy around the world. Although Biden made a public show of barring Nicaraguan officials from entering the United States in November last year, it was later revealed that he secretly sent a State Department official to meet with Ortega. earlier this year, only to be rebuffed by the regime.
While Alvarez is just one of many religious leaders who have been persecuted in recent years, his case illustrates a worrying trend of left-wing bottom-up governments trying to tighten their grip on their populations by stamping out religious beliefs. In the interest not only of preserving religious freedom, but of preserving democracy itself, political leaders in countries like the United States have a responsibility to speak out against these gross human rights violations and take action. to stop them.
Ben Solis is the pseudonym of an international affairs journalist, historian and researcher.
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