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Spanish bishops stand in solidarity with Church in Nicaragua, persecuted by Ortega government

Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa walks with other pilgrims to the Shrine of the Divine Child in July 2022. / Credit: Manuel Obando and Diocese Media

Madrid, Spain, Aug 18, 2022 / 11:29 am (CNA).

At least two Spanish archdioceses have expressed their support for the Church in Nicaragua, which is being persecuted by dictator Daniel Ortega, with messages of solidarity on social media, especially for the Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando José Álvarez.

Spain’s primatial archdiocese of Toledo, said on Twitter  “We entrust the entire Diocese of Matagalpa (to God) in these critical moments and ask the Lord for the gift of fortitude for their pastors and lay faithful."

The message was sent commenting on a previous tweet from Bishop Álvarez himself: "Love one another as I have loved you." (Jn 15:12-27)

The recently named coadjutor archbishop of Granada, Spain, and apostolic administrator of Ávila, José María Gil Tamayo, expressed his “solidarity for the Church in Nicaragua, its freedom under siege by the dictatorship that governs the country."

The persecution of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been increasing for years. The bishops accurately warned of the dictatorial drift of the Ortega government as early as 2014. The bishops have decried the indiscriminate use of force by the regime in cracking down on the opposition, beginning in 2018 when it brutally repressed protesters demanding change.

Because the Catholic Church supported the demonstrators’ cause, the government ramped up the pressure on bishops, priests, religious and lay faithful.

The clearest example is that the former auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Baez, is living in exile in the United States after it became known that Ortega’s government had very probably ordered his assassination.

The apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, was also expelled from the country in March of this year, with the Vatican expressing its “surprise and pain.”

“It’s incomprehensible since, during his mission, His Excellency Archbishop Sommertag has worked tirelessly for the good of the Church and the Nicaraguan people, especially the most vulnerable, always seeking to promote good relations between the Apostolic See and the Nicaraguan authorities,” the Holy See said in a statement.

In July, 18 Missionaries of Charity, whose congregation was founded by Saint Teresa of Calcutta, were also expelled.

The bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, has been held under house arrest at the chancery along with five priests, two seminarians and three lay people since Aug. 4 and neither food nor medicine is being allowed in. The chancery is surrounded by police and is under aerial surveillance by drones.

A few days earlier, the Sandinista regime forcibly shut down the radio stations run by the diocese of Matagalpa.

In a press release published Aug. 5, the Nicaraguan national police accused high-ranking authorities of the Catholic Church in Matagalpa — and Álvarez in particular — of “using the communications media and social media” to try to “organize violent groups, inciting them to carry out acts of hatred against the population, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and disorder, disturbing the peace and harmony of the community.”

Such actions have the “purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities,” the press release continued.

The Ortega regime’s police force announced it has already started an investigation “in order to determine the criminal responsibility of the people involved.”

The statement adds that “the people under investigation shall remain in their homes.”

Ortega, who has been in power for 15 years, has been openly hostile to the Catholic Church in the country. He alleged bishops were part of an attempted coup to drive him out of office in 2018 because they supported anti-government demonstrations that his regime brutally suppressed. The Nicaraguan president has called the bishops “terrorists” and “devils in cassocks.”

According to a report titled “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church? (2018–2022),” compiled by attorney Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, a member of the Pro-Transparency and Anti-Corruption Observatory, in less than four years, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been the target of 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral as well as police harassment and persecution of bishops and priests.

On Aug. 6, unidentified vandals stole the main switch to the cathedral’s electrical control system, leaving the cathedral and surrounding grounds without power. The stolen switch has been replaced, restoring electricity.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Vatican will not take Cardinal Ouellet to trial for sex abuse allegation

Cardinal Marc Ouellet. / Daniel Ibañez / CNA

Rome Newsroom, Aug 18, 2022 / 10:11 am (CNA).

The Vatican said Thursday it will not hold a trial against Cardinal Marc Ouellet over allegations he sexually assaulted a woman.

Ouellet, prefect of the Vatican’s Dicastery for Bishops, was accused of sexual assault in a civil suit filed this week against the Archdiocese of Quebec.

A Vatican spokesman said Aug. 18 that the conclusion of a preliminary investigation by Father Jacques Servais, SJ, found “that there are no elements to initiate a trial against Cardinal Ouellet for sexual assault.”

AFP reported that a class action suit, filed Aug. 16, includes the testimony of 101 people who say they were sexually assaulted by clerics or Church staff from 1940 to the present. Eighty-eight clerics face accusations in the suit.

Ouellet is accused by a woman who says that he assaulted her multiple times while she worked as a pastoral intern for the Quebec archdiocese between 2008 and 2010, while he was Archbishop of Quebec. She described him kissing her and sliding his hand down her back to her buttock.

The Vatican statement included a quote in French from Servais, the Vatican investigator, who said that “there are no grounds to open an investigation into the sexual assault of F. by Card. M. Ouellet. Neither in his written report sent to the Holy Father nor in the testimony via Zoom that I subsequently took in the presence of a member of the Diocesan Ad Hoc Committee, did this person make an accusation that would provide grounds for such an investigation.”

Vatican spokesman Matteo Bruni added that “following further pertinent consultations, Pope Francis declares that there are insufficient elements to open a canonical investigation for sexual assault by Cardinal Ouellet against person F.”

Archbishop condemns attacks by organized crime in US-Mexico border area

Firefighters work at the scene of a burnt collective transport vehicle after it was set on fire by unidentified individuals in Tijuana, Baja California state, Mexico, on Aug. 12, 2022. / Photo by GUILLERMO ARIAS/AFP via Getty Images

Denver Newsroom, Aug 16, 2022 / 17:00 pm (CNA).

Francisco Moreno Barrón, the archbishop of Tijuana, Mexico, across the border from metro San Diego in the United States, condemned the 20 attacks carried out in several towns in the state of Baja California.

The archbishop issued an Aug. 13 statement regarding the public transportation vehicles set on fire by armed men on the afternoon and night of Aug. 12 in Tijuana, Tecate, Ensenada, Mexicali, and Rosarito, towns on or not far from the U.S. border.

“I condemn this painful scenario that harms the entire society, which is suffering the consequences of problems that must find other ways of being solved, never with the violence that always causes more violence,” the archbishop stressed.

According to the newspaper El Universal, witnesses to some of the incidents said that the armed men stopped the vehicles, threatened the drivers, forced them to get off with all their passengers, and then poured on fuel and set the public transport vehicles on fire.

The motive for the attacks is unclear, but the senseless violence may be related to turf wars between rival cartels.

On Twitter, the governor of Baja California, Marina del Pilar Ávila Olvera, condemned the violence and said that some individuals responsible for the incidents that occurred “have already been arrested. It’s important to remain calm, we will keep you informed.”

Moreno also asked people to “stay calm” and “be informed through official or reliable means of communication, avoid false or alarmist messages and create networks of true information and social support.”

“With thousands of people without public transport on the streets and trying to get home,” the archbishop said he appreciated and was thankful for the efforts made in solidarity with the stranded passengers to help them.

The attacks took place one day after the day of violence in Ciudad Juárez, situated across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas, which left at least 11 dead.

After assuring that he is closely monitoring information from state and city officials on public safety conditions, the archbishop of Tijuana invited the faithful to pray the following prayer for peace in Mexico and in the state of Baja California:

Lord Jesus, you are our peace.

Look at our homeland harmed by violence

and dispersed by fear and insecurity. 

Comfort the pain of those who suffer.

Give success to the decisions of those who govern us.

Touch the hearts of those who forget that

we are brothers and cause suffering and death;

give them the gift of conversion.

Protect families, our children,

adolescents and young people, our towns and communities.

That as your missionary disciples, responsible citizens,

we may know how to be promoters of justice and peace,

so that in you, our peoples may have a decent life.

Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.

Amen.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Cardinal Ouellet named in Canadian sex abuse lawsuit

Cardinal Marc Ouellet takes part in the Pontifical Council for Culture's Plenary Assembly on Women's Cultures in Rome, Feb. 6, 2015. / Bohumil Petrik/CNA.

Denver Newsroom, Aug 16, 2022 / 16:04 pm (CNA).

Cardinal Marc Ouellet, Prefect of the Dicastery for Bishops, was accused of sexual assault in a civil suit filed against the Archdiocese of Quebec.

AFP reported that the class action suit, filed Aug. 16, includes the testimony of 101 people who say they were sexually assaulted by clerics or Church staff from 1940 to the present. Eighty-eight clerics face accusations in the suit.

Ouellet is accused by a woman who says that he assaulted her multiple times while she worked as a pastoral intern for the Quebec archdiocese between 2008 and 2010, while he was Archbishop of Quebec. She described him kissing her and sliding his hand down her back to her buttock.

According to the CBC, the alleged incidents involving Ouellet occurred at public events.

The suit says that the alleged victim wrote to Pope Francis about Ouellet in January 2021, and she received an email Feb. 23, 2021 had appointed Father Jacques Servais to investigate the cardinal. Her last communication with Servais was the following month, and as of now “no conclusion concerning the complaints against Cardinal Marc Ouellet has been sent” to her.

Another class action suit was filed against the Brothers of the Christian Schools. In that case, 193 alleged victims have accused 116 De La Salle Brothers of sexual assault.

Ouellet, 78, was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Amos in 1968, at age 23. He joined the Sulpicians in 1972. In 2001 he was appointed secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, and consecrated a bishop.

He served as Archbishop of Quebec from 2002 to 2010, when he was appointed prefect of the Congregation for Bishops and president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

Ouellet has been outspoken about sex abuse, and priestly formation.

At a 2018 meeting of the Presidents of the Bishops' Conferences of Europe, he said that “We would need participation of more women in (training) of priests” to prevent abuse.

He reiterated this point in a 2020 interview with Donne Chiesa Mondo, saying, “for the priest, learning to relate to women in the context of formation is a humanizing factor which promotes the balance of man's personality and affectivity.”

The cardinal said he thought the Church would benefit greatly from an increased presence of women on seminary formation teams, as theology, philosophy, and spirituality teachers, and "in particular in vocational discernment."

Ouellet verbally sparred with Archbishop Vigano as details of Vatican knowledge of Theodore McCarrick emerged in recent years. 

In an October 2018 letter, Ouellet said it was communicated to Vigano in 2011 that McCarrick “had to obey certain conditions and restrictions because of rumors about his behavior in the past,” and that he “was strongly urged not to travel and not to appear in public, in order not to provoke further rumours about him. It is false to present the measures taken against him as 'sanctions' decreed by Pope Benedict XVI and annulled by Pope Francis.”

And in January 2019, Ouellet wrote that his congregation had blocked the U.S. bishops from voting on proposals to address the sex abuse crisis in November because it believed more time was needed to discuss the measures.

Police harassment forces priest to celebrate Mass outside church in Nicaragua

The faithful gather for Mass behind the fence of the church as the parochial vicar celebrates Mass in the atrium of Santa Lucía Parish in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Aug. 16, 2022. / Photo credit: Diócesis Media – Radio Stereo Santa Lucía

ACI Prensa Staff, Aug 16, 2022 / 14:30 pm (CNA).

A group of police officers from the Daniel Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua arrived at a parish Aug. 16 with the intention of arresting the pastor, forcing the celebration of Mass outside the church by the parochial vicar.

ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency, contacted Santa Lucía parish in the Diocese of Matagalpa, where this morning a group of police officers arrived asking for the pastor, Father Vicente Martín.

A person at the parish, who prefers to remain anonymous for fear for his personal safety “and because we don’t know if the phones are tapped,” said that the police arrived at the church at 5:55 a.m. local time and that the day before they had also been there in the afternoon.

“To protect the priest, the parochial vicar, Father Sebastián López, came out and told the police that Father Vicente was not in the church,” the person said.

So the police stayed outside waiting for the pastor.

The person told ACI Prensa that at 6:30 a.m. the bells were rung once for Mass, drawing a large group of the faithful.

“The gates to the fencing (enclosing the open area in front of the church)  weren’t opened up because if they were, the police would get in” and gain entrance to the church, the person said.

López celebrated Mass by improvising the altar with a table outside the church, while the faithful participated behind the fencing. The police looked on and were joined by riot police.

“There were a lot of people crying, a lot of people praying. Many said ‘you are not alone,’” the person said.

Along with the two priests at Santa Lucía parish, there are nine other people in the rectory.

The dictatorship has recently ramped up harassment and intimidation of the Catholic Church.

Over the weekend, three priests were prevented by the police from going to the cathedral in Managua to receive a replica statue of the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima. The police searched the pickup truck that one of the priests was traveling in and confiscated the vehicle registration and proof of insurance as well as the driver’s license. Another of the priests was arrested.

The bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, has been held under house arrest at the chancery along with five priests, two seminarians and three lay people since Aug. 4. The chancery is surrounded by police and is under aerial surveillance by drones.

In a press release published Aug. 5, the Nicaraguan national police accused high-ranking authorities of the Catholic Church in Matagalpa — and Álvarez in particular — of “using the communications media and social media” to try to “organize violent groups, inciting them to carry out acts of hatred against the population, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and disorder, disturbing the peace and harmony of the community.”

Such actions have the “purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities,” the press release continued.

The Ortega regime’s police force announced it has already started an investigation “in order to determine the criminal responsibility of the people involved.”

The statement adds that “the people under investigation shall remain in their homes.”

Ortega, who has been in power for 15 years, has been openly hostile to the Catholic Church in the country. He alleged bishops were part of an attempted coup to drive him out of office in 2018 because they supported anti-government demonstrations that his regime brutally suppressed. The Nicarguan president has called the bishops “terrorists” and “devils in cassocks.”

According to a report titled “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church? (2018–2022),” compiled by attorney Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, a member of the Pro-Transparency and Anti-Corruption Observatory, in less than four years, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been the target of 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral as well as police harassment and persecution of bishops and priests.

On Aug. 6, unidentified vandals stole the main switch to the cathedral’s electrical control system, leaving the cathedral and surrounding grounds without power. The stolen switch has been replaced, restoring electricity.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Bianca Jagger implores Pope Francis to aid persecuted Catholic Church in Nicaragua

Daniel Ortega celebrates his re-inauguration as president of Nicaragua, Jan. 10, 2012. / Cancilleria del Ecuador via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Aug 16, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

Human rights activist Bianca Jagger is raising awareness of the Nicaraguan regime’s oppression of the Catholic Church, calling on Pope Francis to condemn the government’s targeted attacks on the faithful. 

In a statement earlier this week, Jagger said she was “deeply saddened and concerned … by the silence of the Holy Father.”

In an interview with Crux, Jagger – who is Nicaraguan herself – stated that the Catholic Church is one of the last targets standing in the breach against Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and his wife and vice president, Rosario Murillo.

Ortega has been president of Nicaragua since 2007, and oversaw the abolition of presidential term limits in 2014. 

He was a leader in the Sandinista National Liberation Front, which had ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979 and fought US-backed right-wing counterrevolutionaries during the 1980s. Ortega was also leader of Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990.

Nicaraguan attacks against Catholics intensify

According to Jagger, the Ortega regime – which has long oppressed Nicaraguan citizens, civil organizations and media – is now turning its focus to attacking the Church. 

Now that the regime has silenced independent journalists, political opposition, and human rights activists, they “understand that the great leaders of the country are members of the Catholic Church: the bishops, the priests, the religious sisters and the laity,” Jagger said. 

In a recent attack, the government arrested Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa Aug. 4, along with several priests, seminarians, and laypeople following the banning of an Our Lady of Fatima procession by Nicaraguan police. Álvarez remains under house arrest, an effort to “declare war against the Catholic Church,” according to Jagger.

Ortega also expelled the Missionaries of Charity from the country in July.

Pope Francis has not spoken out 

When asked by Crux about Pope Francis’ silence, Jagger stated, “I am deeply saddened and concerned, surprised, by the silence of the Holy Father.”

Jagger has publicly appealed to Pope Francis to address the unfolding situation in Nicaragua.

“I am appealing to him not to order Bishop Rolando Alvarez to leave the country,” she said, urging that “Getting rid of all the bishops and priests who stand up, who have the courage to stand up, is not the answer. The answer is to intercede, and speak up against the man who has declared a war against the Catholic Church.”

Bishop Silvio José Báez Ortega, an auxiliary bishop of Managua, has been living in exile since 2019 at the pope's request.

The Vatican did not immediately respond to CNA’s request for comment.

The far-left Ortega regime has been accused of corruption, voter fraud, imprisoning critical dissenters and journalists, and committing violent human rights abuses against the people of Nicaragua. 

Both the current and former U.S. presidents have condemned Ortega for these acts. The Trump administration first imposed sanctions against the regime in 2018. President Biden signed the bi-partisan RENANCER Act, which extended sanctions, and called the 2021 re-election of Ortega a “sham.”

Jagger’s activism and faith

Bianca Jagger is a human rights activist, former actress, and ex-wife of Mick Jagger, the lead singer of The Rolling Stones, whom she married in a Catholic ceremony in 1971. The couple divorced in 1978, but Jagger continues to practice the faith.

“Once a Catholic, always a Catholic…Religion is a very important aspect of my life,” she said in a 2008 interview with High Profiles.

Her past activism has included lobbying for wider celebration of the Latin Mass (TLM) in England.

The Bianca Jagger Foundation did not immediately respond to CNA’s request for comment.

Ortega regime continues attacks on the Church in Nicaragua

A brief procession of the Virgin of Fatima in the atrium of the Cathedral of Managua, Nicaragua, was held on Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022, to close a Marian congress. A larger procession was scheduled but prohibited by the regime of President Daniel Ortega. / Photo credit: San Judas Tadeo Mga Parish

Denver Newsroom, Aug 15, 2022 / 13:58 pm (CNA).

The leftist regime of President Daniel Ortega continued its persecution of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua with several acts of repression over the weekend.

On Saturday, a large procession with the pilgrim statue of Our Lady of Fatima was to precede the closing Mass at the Managua cathedral for the Marian Congress titled “Mary, Mother of Hope,” but the regime prohibited the event. Instead, a smaller procession was held in the atrium of the cathedral. Thousands were in attendance, many waving Nicaraguan and Vatican flags and crying out, “Mary is from Nicaragua and Nicaragua belongs to Mary!”

In his homily, Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, the archbishop of Managua, the country’s capital, stressed that “nothing and no one can take away our love for the Virgin of Fatima because her image is engraved in the mind and heart of each one of us Nicaraguans.”

A delegation from each diocese in the country was to receive a replica statue of Our Lady of Fatima, but on Sunday, Father Erick Diaz, pastor of St. Joseph the Worker parish, and Father Fernando Calero from Our Lady of Fatima parish, both from the town of El Tuma, were prevented by police from leaving for the cathedral in Managua. 

The pickup truck in which Calero was riding was stopped and searched by the police, who confiscated the registration and insurance documents for the truck as well as the driver’s license.

The same day, Father Oscar Benevidez, pastor of Holy Spirit parish in the town of Mulukukú, was arbitrarily arrested. In a Facebook post, the Diocese of Siuna said that Benevidez’s “sole mission is and has been to announce the Good News of Jesus Christ who is the word of life and salvation for everyone” and prayed for Mary’s intercession.

Meanwhile, since Aug. 4, the regime has not allowed the bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Álvarez, to leave the chancery, with police officers stationed at the door and around the premises. The prelate remains inside with 10 other people, including priests, seminarians, and laity.

In a press release published Aug. 5, the Nicaraguan national police accused high-ranking authorities of the Catholic Church in Matagalpa — and in particular Álvarez — of “using the communications media and social media” to try to “organize violent groups, inciting them to carry out acts of hatred against the population, creating an atmosphere of anxiety and disorder, disturbing the peace and harmony of the community.”

Such actions have the “purpose of destabilizing the State of Nicaragua and attacking the constitutional authorities,” the press release continued.

The Ortega regime’s police force announced it has already started an investigation “in order to determine the criminal responsibility of the people involved.”

The statement adds that “the people under investigation shall remain in their homes.”

Ortega, who has been in power for 15 years, has been openly hostile to the Catholic Church in the country. He alleged bishops were part of an attempted coup to drive him out of office in 2018 because they supported anti-government demonstrations that his regime brutally suppressed. The Nicarguan president has called the bishops “terrorists” and “devils in cassocks.”

According to a report titled “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church? (2018–2022),” compiled by attorney Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, a member of the Pro-Transparency and Anti-Corruption Observatory, in less than four years, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been the target of 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral as well as police harassment and persecution of bishops and priests.

On Aug. 6, unidentified vandals stole the main switch to the cathedral’s electrical control system, leaving the cathedral and surrounding grounds without power.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

'Missionary Friends' play a major role in EWTN's success in Latin America

A group of Amigos Misioneros in Barranquilla, Colombia participating in a 40 Days for Life pro-life prayer rally in March 2021. / Amigos Misioneros

Denver Newsroom, Aug 15, 2022 / 09:49 am (CNA).

EWTN is continuing to grow in Latin America, buoyed by the support of thousands of volunteers who pray and work to promote the work of the Catholic media network. 

EWTN is the largest religious media organization in the world, with its television content alone reaching some 400 million households. CNA is part of the EWTN family.

After its founding in Alabama in 1981 by Mother Angelica, EWTN began its Hispanic outreach on Feb. 1, 1989 with a three-hour block of programming. The network’s round-the-clock Spanish-language television and radio has been available in Latin America and Spain since 1996, and in the U.S. since 1999. 

Ximena Izquierdo, manager of Amigos Misioneros (“Missionary Friends”) of EWTN for Latin America and Spain, told ACI Prensa that throughout the years "many lives have been touched by its programming and content."

"The quality and production of EWTN is of the utmost importance for the Hispanic world, not only because of its correct doctrine but also because of the veracity of the news, and the quality of the people who work there," she said. 

Today, EWTN's Missionary Friends number more than 14,000 in Latin America and more than 2,500 Hispanics in the United States. Claudio Ramirez, EWTN’s director of Marketing for Latin America, told CNA that the purpose of the missionaries is primarily to pray for EWTN’s mission of sharing the Catholic faith, and to “encourage those who do not know [EWTN’s] programming to see and enjoy it.”

A group of Amigos Misioneros in Guatemala in April 2021. Amigos Misioneros
A group of Amigos Misioneros in Guatemala in April 2021. Amigos Misioneros

In addition to promoting the work of EWTN, the volunteers organize pro-life marches and prayer campaigns, book fairs, rosary rallies, and other events in their communities. 

The Amigos Misioneros have made their presence known by assisting at Catholic events in Latin America in recent years, such as Pope Francis’ 2017 visit to Colombia and 2019’s World Youth Day in Panama. 

They have also successfully prevented the network from being taken down from cable operators, by showing both the numbers and commitment of EWTN viewers.

Amigos Misioneros recently led a campaign to deter a Latin American cable provider from eliminating EWTN en Español from their programming. A few days before the July 31 deadline, the cable operator announced that in consideration of its fan base, EWTN would remain on the airwaves.

According to Chris Wegemer, Vice President of Marketing for EWTN, more than 100 new EWTN television affiliates have been added in Latin America since Jan. 1.

Victim of Bishop Zanchetta: ‘Don't turn your back on us; we didn’t deserve such treatment’

Former Bishop Gustavo Zanchetta of the Diocese of Oran, Argentina. / ACI Prensa

ACI Prensa Staff, Aug 13, 2022 / 04:00 am (CNA).

A former seminarian and victim of the bishop emeritus of Oran, Argentina, Gustavo Zanchetta — who was sentenced to prison for sexual abuse in Argentina — asked the Catholic Church not to turn its back on him.

On Aug. 12, ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language sister news agency,  interviewed G.C., a 28-year-old former seminarian and one of Zanchetta’s victims, after the bishop was allowed to serve his sentence under house arrest in July.

The place of house arrest, according to the newspaper El Tribuno, is a house for retired priests in the Monastery of Our Lady of the Valley of Nueva Orán of the Order of the Immaculate Conception-Franciscan Conceptionist Mothers.

In March, Zanchetta was sentenced to four and a half years in prison after being found guilty of abuse.

“Simply that: don’t turn your back on us. We didn’t deserve such treatment,” G.C. told ACI Prensa when asked about what he is asking of the Catholic Church.

“Faced with such a situation, God willing, there will be no other cases, but if it does happen, let (the Church) not turn its back as it did to us because we didn’t deserve that treatment, first from a person who is a persona non grata to the Church, a person who harmed the faithful, the people of God,” the victim said.

“And second, if psychological therapy is offered so much in the seminaries, well, I think that the Church didn’t see many things in that respect. Many things were known about Zanchetta when he was ordained a bishop and I think it was a mistake, to not use another (worse) word,” G.C. lamented.

House arrest ‘not what we expected’

Regarding the house arrest, Zanchetta’s victim said he was not surprised by the decision by the judges after the request “to be able to have a comfortable prison available to him, according to his status. He always stressed the power that he has and that’s why he is where he is and not in a prison.”

“I always say that if I had lost the trial, I’m sure that I would — we would — have been in prison and not under house arrest,” he added.

G. C. also said that in the case of Zanchetta, “justice was done, but not in the way we expected. We expected him to serve his sentence in jail.”

‘The Church didn’t help us’

When asked if he has felt welcomed by the Church, the victim was clear: “No, not at all. Since he left the seminary the Church hasn’t taken care of us or our situation. Nothing, absolutely nothing.”

“I even spoke with the current bishop, Luis Antonio Scozzina. I talked to him so he could give me the possibility of helping me with the psychological therapy that I still need,” G.C. said.

The victim later said that the bishop agreed to it “because financially I wasn’t well and neither was my family. So I asked him for help for this reason but he didn’t help me.”

“There wasn’t even a talk with me after this, to ask how we were, if we were okay, if we needed anything,” he lamented.

After saying that at this time he feels alone, although there was a priest who accompanied him, G.C. he said he “expected more from the Church. As I told you, we have felt alone in that regard. The Church didn’t help us.”

Diocese of Oran’s response

ACI Prensa contacted the Diocese of Oran to ask whether or not it is helping the victims with psychological therapy.

“The bishop indicates that the seminarian M.C, who requested help, although he denies receiving it, has received it for five months. Psychological help is provided for that, but the other one (G.C.) didn’t request help,” the diocese responded.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

Persecuted bishop in Nicaragua tells faithful to overcome evil with good

Bishop José Álvarez Lagos surrounded by police officers on Aug. 4, 2022. / Diocese Media TV Merced / Diocese of Matagalpa

ACI Prensa Staff, Aug 12, 2022 / 14:00 pm (CNA).

The bishop of Matagalpa, Nicaragua, Rolando Álvarez, who has been kept under house arrest by the Nicaraguan police for eight days, called on the faithful not to be afraid because evil never prevails.

Since Aug. 4, the regime of President Daniel Ortega has not allowed Álvarez to leave the chancery, with police officers stationed at the door and around the premises. The prelate remains inside with 10 other people, including priests, seminarians, and laity.

In his homily for the Aug. 11 Mass celebrated in the chancery chapel,  Álvarez recalled that Christ taught that one must not harbor resentment but must always forgive, defeating “evil with the force and power of good.”

“We are here, gathered together and under detention, already on the eighth day that we are spending today,” he said at the beginning of the Eucharist. “Our 11 lives are in the hands of the Lord.”

Álvarez said that thanks to God, they are in good health, living in community, and celebrating the Eucharist “with inner strength, with peace and serenity in our hearts” that “can only come from God.”

“We are experiencing a retreat in the presence of the Lord. All things work together for good for those who love the Lord, says the apostle St. Paul, and we are totally convinced that everything is happening for our good, because God loves us and because we love him,” the prelate said.

Álvarez assured that “painful experiences do not happen in vain; they don’t fall into a void. These experiences are offered to the Lord and God returns them in blessings for us.”

The bishop of Matagalpa, who expressed his gratitude for the thousands of expressions of solidarity, prayers, and rosaries, said in his homily that Christ calls his disciples not to harbor resentment and to always forgive.

The prelate said that when you want to harm another person, that “means that the devil has managed to penetrate your heart and has managed to enter in, infecting your heart. You shouldn’t allow that.”

“Evil is defeated by the power of good. Good is always more powerful. Good is eternally powerful. Evil is tremendously limited, even though it makes more noise,” he noted.

“Evil, by its demonic nature, always tries to confuse us by making us think that it’s the one that wins and that it’s greater than good, but this is a temptation from Satan to make us despair, to make men and women of good will despair,” he pointed out.

The bishop of Matagalpa encouraged Nicaraguans not to fall into despair, because “that’s another temptation we face, because a people without hope is a self-entombed people.”

Instead, he invited the faithful to be “inundated with the hope” of Christ, who defeated death.

“It is the hope of the grain of wheat that dies and that is the only way it can produce much fruit,” he said.

The Nicaraguan bishop recalled the Gospel account of the storm on the Sea of Galilee, when the apostles were frightened because they believed that the boat would sink. Christ, he affirmed, “always overcomes storms.”

Álvarez said that their hearts are “full of forgiveness” and of the “mercy of God” and that they are offering “this difficult situation that we are experiencing for you.”

“Don’t have the slightest doubt that the Lord is blessing you, because he is daily accepting our offering for you. And keep offering your prayers and supplications for us,” he encouraged.

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.