Monday, June 10, 2024

Exiled Nicaraguan bishop receives award in Spain

Courageous Bishop Rolando Alvarez ...

The archbishop of Oviedo, Spain, has presented the Libertas Award to Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Nicaragua. 

Bishop Álvarez, who has been exiled from his homeland since January due to persecution by the Nicaraguan government, received the award in person during a private three-day visit to Oviedo.

The Libertas Award is given by an association in Oviedo, Spain, recognizing both local and international individuals or groups who defend fundamental freedoms. 

Bishop Álvarez’s commitment to the Nicaraguan people in the face of government oppression made him the recipient of the international award.

Oviedo's local archbishop first received the award on Bishop Álvarez’s behalf in May, offering a message of encouragement to Nicaraguans facing hardship:

“We’re with you in Christian solidarity. Never lose hope! The example of Monsignor Rolando is a beacon of inspiration to continue the fight for Christ, the Gospel, and the freedom of your people.”

With the help of Vatican diplomacy, Bishop Álvarez was released from prison in Nicaragua in early 2024, and flown to Rome. He had been sentenced to 26 years in prison in Nicaragua after refusing to leave with 222 political prisoners flown to the U.S. in February 2023.

Now, Bishop Álvarez finally received the award in person.

The Nicaraguan bishop has been visiting various of his brother bishops in Spain. The bishop of Seville, Spain, posted pictures of their time together last week.

Catholic Church decimated by persecution

While it has been a few months without news of any new crackdowns by the Ortega regime in Nicaragua, the country continues to grapple with the reduced number of priests, religious, and Catholic organizations, since the government began expelling or eliminating them.