Pope prays for Bishop Alvarez sentenced to jail in Nicaragua

Pope Francis decries the imprisonment of Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Alvarez and the expulsion of dissidents, and appeals to political leaders to open their hearts to truth and justice and engage in dialogue.

By Linda Bordoni

Pope Francis on Sunday issued an appeal to political leaders in Nicaragua to open their hearts to the sincere search for peace and engage in dialogue.

His appeal follows news of the sentencing to imprisonment of the Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando Alvarez, and the expulsion of 222 people who were detained for political reasons. These include several priests and seminarians accused of conspiring against the government.

Expressing great sadness for the news from Nicaragua, the Pope said he thinks with concern of Bishop Alvarez, “whom I love so much,” and who has been sentenced to 26 years in prison.

The Holy Father said he is praying for him, for those who have been deported to the United States, and for all those who suffer in the beloved nation of Nicaragua.

He invited the faithful to join him in prayers to the Lord asking for the intercession of the Immaculate Virgin Mary.

“[May she] open the hearts of political leaders and all citizens to the sincere search for peace, which is born of truth, justice, freedom and love, and is achieved through the patient exercise of dialogue.”

Pope Francis then led the faithful in the recitation of the Hail Mary.