The priest was leaving a mass when he was intercepted by three police patrol vehicles, who took him away to an unknown destination.
HAVANA TIMES – Daniel Ortega’s police abducted Catholic priest Oscar Danilo Benavidez, of the Espiritu Santo Church in Mulukuku, on Sunday August 14th, reported local church sources. Mulukuku is located in the North Caribbean Region of Nicaragua.
Benavidez was taken out of his vehicle and put into a police patrol car with an unknown destination, according to the sources. The priest was leaving a mass at La Asunción parish when he was intercepted by three patrol cars full of riot police.
The arrest of the priest comes in the midst of a series of actions by the Government of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo against the Nicaraguan Catholic Church, which includes the police kidnapping of Monsignor Rolando José Alvarez, bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, together with five priests, three seminarians, and two lay people. The police accuse Alvarez, without evidence, of attempting to organize “violent groups”.
In another development, this Sunday, the National Police prevented two priests from the Matagalpa municipalities of Rancho Grande and El Tuma from traveling to the Matagalpa cathedral, to participate in the celebration of the reception of the image of the Virgin of Fatima. One of them was visited in his parish to inform him of the prohibition, and the other was returned on the El Tuma-La Dalia highway.
In addition to these actions, a group of missionaries of the Mother Teresa of Calcutta order was expelled from the country, eight Catholic radio stations were closed, three Catholic channels were excluded from cable television programming, and a parish was forcibly entered and raided.
Third priest imprisoned
If the arrest is made official, Benavidez would become the third priest imprisoned by the Ortega regime: in June, Manuel Garcia, the parish priest of Nandaime, was imprisoned, followed by Monsignor Leonardo Urbina of Boaco in July.
Both, accused of common crimes, have faced trials considered examples of trials without guarantees by independent experts. Meanwhile, the hate speech from the government against the priests, whom they accuse of conspiring in an alleged “coup”, as they call the demonstrations of 2018, has intensified.
In his homily, this Sunday, the exiled auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Jose Baez, said that “tyrants cannot stand the prophetic word that exposes their wickedness and crimes”.
“The people in power today fear a prophetic Church, they would like to see the Church locked in the sacristy, with her mouth shut and hopefully bowed down before them. When they fail to achieve this, they fill themselves with rage, with aggressive speeches with which they do nothing more than show their own weakness and the darkness of their conscience, but it is all useless,” Baez preached.