Sunday, 6 August 2023

Pope Francis Calls on Socialist Lula da Silva for Assistance in Freeing Persecuted Priest in Nicaragua Where Dictator Maintains Ties with Brazilian President


Pope Francis - Lula da Silva
Brazilian President Lula da Silva and the Pope Francis. Photo by Ricardo Stuckert


Pope Francis has confirmed that he sought the help of Brazil’s socialist president, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, to secure the release of Catholic bishop Rolando Álvarez, who is imprisoned in Nicaragua’s left-wing dictatorship for opposing the regime led by Marxist Daniel Ortega.

The request from the Supreme Pontiff to the Brazilian president took place in June of this year during a meeting at the Vatican. Lula da Silva gained notoriety for supporting the Sandinista dictatorship in Nicaragua.

“Yes, I asked for Lula’s help,” stated the Pontiff when questioned on the matter in an interview with the Spanish magazine “Vida Nueva”, released this Friday (4).

“I will speak with Ortega to secure his freedom, because one must learn to ask for forgiveness and acknowledge this mistake,” Lula stated after his encounter with the Pontiff. The meeting between Lula and Pope Francis, held in June, lasted approximately 45 minutes. 

Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa was sentenced to 26 years in prison for alleged attempts to “undermine national integrity.” Although he was briefly released in early July, he was imprisoned again for refusing to leave the country.

This Friday (4) marks one year since the imprisonment of Bishop Álvarez, who remains incarcerated in Nicaragua, serving a 26-year sentence. Alongside the bishop, four other priests, two seminarians, and a diocesan staff member from Matagalpa were also detained.

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