Nicaragua police ban Catholic procession in Church crackdown


Aug 12 (Reuters) - Nicaraguan police have banned a Catholic procession and pilgrimage in the capital of Managua on Saturday, citing internal security reasons, the archdiocese said on Friday as the crackdown on the Church intensifies.

In response, the archdiocese called for the country's faithful to spend Friday in prayer and fasting and to attend mass at the Managua cathedral on Saturday, skipping the procession meant to be a closing ceremony for the country's Marian Congress and a send off for the Portuguese statue of Our Lady of Fatima.

Relations between the Catholic Church and the Nicaraguan government have been tense since the Church tried to serve as a mediator in 2018 after an Ortega-backed social security proposal sparked nationwide protests.

The Central American nation has accused several priests and bishops of conspiracy since the Church demanded justice for over 360 people who died during the protests, according to numbers compiled by human rights organizations.

The move comes just over a week after the Ortega government took seven Catholic radio stations off the air. read more

The stations were led by Bishop Rolando Alvarez, head of the Diocese of Matagalpa and Esteli, as well as an Ortega critic.

Alvarez is the subject of an investigation for alleged conspiracy and has been trapped in the diocese's episcopal palace, surrounded by police, for two weeks. read more

The police did not immediately respond to a Reuters request for comment.

Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by Kylie Madry; Editing by Josie Kao

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.