According to Catholic Church sources in Nicaragua, the national police have banned celebrating religious processions during Lent and Holy Week in the streets.
The decision came after President and Supreme Police Chief Daniel Ortega labeled members of the Catholic Church, including priests, bishops, cardinals, and Pope Francis, as a “mafia.”
The bishop of the diocese of Leon and Chinandega, Socrates Rene Sandigo, said that the police only allowed the Stations of the Cross to take place inside or in the courtyard of churches but not in the streets.
Ortega accused the Catholic Church of being undemocratic by not allowing Catholics to choose their leaders by direct vote and committing financial crimes.
The auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, Silvio Báez, was exiled to the US and declared a “fugitive from justice,” calling Ortega an “atheist, corrupt and criminal” after he attacked the church.
Pope Francis has expressed concern over the political situation in Nicaragua and called on leaders to sincerely seek peace in the country.
Recently, a bishop critical of the government, Rolando Álvarez, was sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison for crimes of “treason.”