The European Parliament building in Brussels, Belgium. / Ala z via Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 3.0).

CNA Newsroom, Sep 16, 2022 / 05:08 am (CNA).

By a broad majority, members of the European Parliament on Thursday condemned the escalating repression against the Catholic Church and others in Nicaragua. 

The resolution, passed Sept. 15., criticized the arbitrary “arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez” of Matagalpa and called “for his and others’ immediate and unconditional release and the annulment of all legal proceedings against them.”

The European Parliament’s text recognized Álvarez as playing “an important role as a mediator in the 2018 National Dialogue” and having constantly called “for peaceful and reasoned dialogue in Nicaragua.”

Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, is monitored by police in early August 2022. Photo credit: Diocese of Matagalpa

The resolution also drew attention to the expulsion of the apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, and numerous other repressions against members of the Catholic Church. These include the detention of Father Manuel Salvador García, the expulsion of 18 Missionaries of Charity, and the silencing of Catholic media.

Pope Francis on Thursday called for dialogue, saying: “There have been talks with the government; there is dialogue. That doesn’t mean you approve of everything the government does or you disapprove of everything. It does not. There is dialogue and there is a need to solve problems.”

Speaking to journalists on the flight from Kazakhstan to Italy, the pontiff said: “Right now there are problems. I at least expect the sisters of Mother Teresa to be able to return. These women are good revolutionaries, but of the Gospel! They do not make war on anyone.”

Pope Francis speaking to journalists on the flight back to Rome from Kazakhstan on Thursday, Sept. 15, 2022. Vatican Media

Pope Francis also said the apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua was “a good person who has now been appointed somewhere else. These things are hard to understand and also hard to swallow. But in Latin America, there are situations like that in various places.”

Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag was assigned as apostolic nuncio in Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania in Africa on Sept. 6, 2022. Photo credit: César Pérez / Archdiocese of Managua

In the European Parliament’s resolution, the regime of Daniel Ortega is called upon to immediately allow international organizations such as the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights and United Nations representatives into the country to monitor the human-rights situation and to begin a national dialogue to resolve the crisis in the country. 

The European Members of Parliament urged Nicaragua’s regime to repeal legislation that “unduly restricts the country’s civic and democratic space.” They ask the EU to continue supporting civil-society organizations there. 

The resolution was adopted by 538 votes in favor, 16 against, with 28 abstentions. 

The Parliament stated it wanted the EU and the U.N. Security Council to open a formal investigation into Nicaragua and its president, Daniel Ortega, for crimes against humanity.

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega. Taiwan Presidential Office (CC BY 2.0)

The resolution further notes “a framework of state repression has been installed in Nicaragua, characterized by systemic impunity for human rights violations, a deterioration of the institutions and the rule of law, and connivance between the powers of the executive and the judiciary.” 

The resolution was forwarded to the European Council, the commission, the governments and parliaments of the member states, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States, the Euro-Latin American Parliamentary Assembly, the Central American Parliament, the Lima Group, the Vatican — and the government and Parliament of the Republic of Nicaragua.

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