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(LifeSiteNews) – Nicaragua is suffering the worst tyranny in its history. An atheist, communist, totalitarian tyranny.

As usual in Nicaragua, the real pastors of the Church have raised their voices against the gross abuse of human rights by Daniel Ortega and the Sandinista Front of National Liberation (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional, FSLN). The response of the tyrant has been harsh, even harsher than in the 1980s. But what is new now is that some of the prelates of the Church have sided with the government, and others are keeping suspiciously silent.

I am going to first outline the main traces of the situation and then I am going to analyze, following the lead of a Nicaraguan sociologist, the aims and attitudes of the main actors. I will also criticize some of the decisions made by the Vatican and place them in a wider perspective.

In 2021, Daniel Ortega and his thugs arrested the opposition candidates for presidential elections. They also arrested human rights activists, journalists, businessmen and threw more than 190 persons in a prison where they were subject to torture. The name of the prison is “El Nuevo Chipote.” As a consequence, the Nicaraguan people abstained from voting, so that Ortega was elected by a very scanty number of Nicaraguans in November of 2021.

READ: Nicaraguan bishop critical of Ortega regime arrested amid investigation, Pope calls for ‘dialogue’

The prelates of the Church who care about their people and about justice have raised their voices, but the reaction of the tyranny has been ruthless. For example, they have expelled none other than Mother Teresa’s Sisters Missionaries of Charity. I suppose they did this because they know that through the Sisters, the Nicaraguan people can understand it is the Church, not the communists, who really care about the poor. In effect, the Sisters were bad advertising for the revolution.

The government has also sent into exile bishop Silvio Báez and Father Edwin Román. The first one through the Vatican’s imposition, supposedly due to safety concerns.

Ortega himself has sent to prison at least three pastors (the last one, Father Oscar Benavides, from the Diocese of Siuna, on August 14th) and had previously sequestrated the Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Mons. Rolando Álvarez, at the Episcopal Palace, along with three lay persons, five priests (two vicars, one rector, one pastor and one more) and two seminarians. They were all inside this building for more than two weeks.

The only woman held in the building was rescued by her sister, who is a member of the Sandinist Youth. The two laymen (one pianist, Henry Corvera, and one camera man, Flavio Castro) were called on August 16th to confer with Commissioner (police officer) Ramón Avellán outside of the Palace and, once they came out, were arrested and sent to the previously mentioned torture center in Managua, “El Nuevo Chipote.”

After this episode, during the night from Thursday August 18th to Friday August 19th, the bishop and his remaining company were arrested in a brutal way, told by an eyewitness who wants to keep his anonymity. Here is his narrative:

At 3:11 am I heard strange noises and the barking of dogs. Some men and women were talking very low. I came out to the gate, hiding, but I feared that they could spot me. So, I went to the main door and, lying on the ground, I was able to see the boots of the officers. Everything was very fast. It was similar to an anti-drug dealing raid with the possibility of crossed gunfire. I got goose bumps and I was unable to restrain my tears. I knew they were coming to pick up my spiritual leader and that I could do nothing to prevent it. The next moment I just heard a resounding noise when they brought down the entrance by battering it with something heavy. Immediately they screamed: ‘freeze, don’t move!’ and they ran inside fully armed. I just saw a lot of people running with military boots and from afar I heard: ‘we have no weapons, this is God’s house.’ To this was replied: ‘everybody to the ground!’ And then, things were falling to the ground, crystals were broken. I was able to see that somebody was dragged first from the neck and later from hands and feet. I do not know if that person was Monsignor. They were for some minutes inside and afterward other prisoners walked outside while being pushed and pulled, towards a van into which they were thrown like sacks of potatoes. At that time I heard just the loud groans of the prisoners who were being punched and pushed. An angry woman officer told the Bishop: ‘you see, little standing rooster, this happens to you for trying to be Nicaragua’s savior, you clown!’ In a few minutes the hustle and bustle ended. Afterward the blue demons (police agents) stayed around for hours.

The bishop was taken far from his diocese to Managua where he remains in house arrest. I do not know where the priests and seminarians were taken.

A Nicaraguan sociologist, Elvira Cuadra, very competently analyzed the situation on the online TV Channel Confidencia Nica. She thinks that the aim of the tyranny with this harsh repression never before seen in Nicaragua is to either (1) silence the Church through self-censorship; or (2) send the prelates who care for justice into exile; or (3) throw them into prison.

Why are they doing this?

Because the tyranny has no legitimacy, especially after the electoral fraud. So, they need the Church to bestow on them some semblance of legitimacy, but some prelates are refusing to do so and are therefore doing exactly the opposite. They want the Vatican and the Conference of Bishops to come to an agreement through which they can achieve what they want: the subordination of the Church to the political power.

READ: Observer calls Pope Francis’ silence on Nicaraguan persecution of Church ‘scandalous’

Cuadra states that the bishops of Nicaragua are divided. While the Conference of Bishops and the Vatican have not supported Monsignor Álvarez – although some individual bishops have done so –  other individual bishops have shown sympathy for the tyranny.

While the government in León was hostile to the priests and arrested some of them, the bishop of León, Mons. René Sándigos, was instead participating in the inauguration of a public work with the Communist Major of León, standing by the flag of the FSLN, a communist symbol.

The predecessor of Sándigos in León, Monsignor Bosco Vivas, was also a sympathizer of the Sandinists. The Cardinal, Monsignor Brenes, does not have a clear stand regarding this crisis and although he is not the president of the Conference of Bishops, his attitude and position as the Archbishop of Managua is key to the situation.

Cuadra explains that although the clergy is behaving in an ambiguous way, the Catholic lay people cannot be fooled. They know that their faith is at stake. The tyrannical regime understands that the lay people are not easily fooled and it is for this reason that it is attacking even the popular external demonstrations of faith, such as the public reception of the image of the Fatima advocation of the Virgin Mary and the procession of the Feast of the Assumption.

But this persecution is increasing a feeling of discontent within the population, and Cuadra thinks that the government cannot change the faith of the people and therefore, that we are going to witness a long fight. However, I am not so sure.

What I can see is that the Vatican is dealing with Nicaragua in a way analogous to that in which they have dealt with China. In the Asian country the Vatican has come to a “secret agreement” with the Communist totalitarian tyranny and therefore has favored the so called “patriotic church.” That is to say, an apostate church. One cannot be at the same time Christian and loyal to the Communist party and that is precisely what the “patriotic church” professes to be. It seems to me that a part of the bishops and the Vatican are trying to establish in Nicaragua a secret agreement as well. And it seems to me that that is extremely dangerous for the faith of the people because it could end up creating something similar to the “patriotic church” of China.

Pope Francis’ position has been to keep silent on the very grave persecution suffered by the Catholic people of a traditionally Catholic country. This silence was broken on Sunday August 21st, when the Pope declared: “I closely follow with worry and sorrow the situation arisen in Nicaragua, a situation that involves persons and institutions. I would like to express my conviction and my desire that through an open and sincere dialogue the foundation for a respectful and peaceful convivence may be found. Let us ask the Lord that, through the intercession of the Most Pure [the Virgin Mary], He may inspire in everybody’s heart such concrete will”

READ: Vatican to renew secret ‘sell-out’ deal with China’s communists

This is a very strange statement and very similar to the one issued on April 10, 2014 in order to put an end to the popular uprising against the Communist tyranny in Venezuela.

When priests are arrested and bishops are removed, we would hope that Francis could give a clearer statement condemning the violation of the freedom of the Church.

The Catholic people may ask themselves: has the Pope not learned from what has happened in China, Venezuela and Colombia? In all those countries the communists have come to agreements with the Vatican and have violated them. Does not the Vatican diplomacy know that one of the main traces of communist politicians is a complete lack of honor and a systematic violation of the word given when the strength is on their side?

Stalin’s reply to the Pope’s condemnation of communism is the general attitude of the communist mind: “how many [military] divisions does the Pope have?”

It seems that there are diplomatic negotiations unbeknownst to the Catholic people. And one has the right to fear that their fruit could be as disastrous as the negotiations with the Chinese Communist Party.

There is a last aspect of the Vatican’s policies that I do not want to leave out of the present considerations.

Monsignor Silvio Báez is another bishop that has been separated from his diocese. According to La Mesa Redonda, a digital news website, he is in exile by decision of Pope Francis and for reasons of personal safety.

When the lay people have to stay under the yoke of a communist totalitarian tyranny, I do not think taking their brave pastors away is the right policy – unless one wants to submit the Church to the political power of such tyranny. The right way would be rather to leave the brave bishops in place and to secretly ordain new brave pastors, willing to lay their lives for the keeping of their sheep’s authentic faith.

A similar position was taught by none less than Saint Augustine when the Vandals where conquering city after city and town after town in North Africa and butchering the faithful:

[…] the ministers of Christ, when under the pressure of persecution, are then at liberty to leave our posts, when no flock is left for us to serve; […] but when the people remain, and the ministers flee, and the ministration is suspended, what is that but the guilty flight of hirelings, who care not for the sheep? For then the wolf will come, not man, but the devil, who is used to persuade such believers to apostasy who are bereft of the daily ministration of the Lord’s Body; and by your, not knowledge, but ignorance of duty, the weak brother will perish, for whom Christ died.

The bishops have no right to flee their sheep if there is a danger that by their flight the sheep might fall victim to the wolves of communism. I wish the Vatican could remain true to the teachings of the Fathers, of Tradition and of Divine Revelation in this fight of the Nicaraguan Catholic people against the armies of hell, the communist abomination.

Carlos A. Casanova is a Venezuelan author, attorney and professor. He was one of the 45 scholars who signed the letter to the College of Cardinals concerning the possible heretical readings of the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. He currently sits on the advisory board for the John Paul II Academy for Human Life and the Family.