Nicaraguan police have banned the Catholic Church from holding religious processions in the town of Masaya for “public security” reasons, a church source said on Saturday.
The Archdiocese of Managua, presided over by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes, announced that the police had informed him that “for reasons of public safety, processions will not be authorized during the festivities” of Saint Michael the Archangel and Saint Jerome, celebrated in Masaya, 30 km southeast of the capital.
The feast of San Miguel Arcángel takes place on September 29 and that of San Jerónimo, patron saint of the city, on the 30th of the same month and whose celebration extends until November, being one of the most extensive in the country.
In view of the police measure, the Archdiocese which includes the capital and the neighboring towns of Masaya and Carazo has invited the faithful and those who promise the patron saints to pay homage to them with faith and devotion in their hearts and with “strength ancestral heritage in their communities.
This is the second time that the police have banned the Catholic Church from organizing a procession. Before that, on the occasion of the closing of the Marian Congress and the end of the pilgrimage of the image of the Virgin of Fatima, on August 13, both in the capital.
The Catholic Church had resumed carrying out the processions this year, after two years that it had interrupted them due to security measures due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
In 2018, Masaya was considered a rebel city, for its rejection of tough measures against demonstrators protesting against a social security reform and which had resulted in a demand for the resignation of President Daniel Ortega, in power since 2007.
The prohibition of religious acts on public roads is part of the actions carried out by the government against the Catholic Church, which intensified in August with the house arrest of the bishop of the diocese of Matagalpa, Msgr. Rolando Alvarez.
Relations between the clergy and the government have been strained since 2018, when priests opened temples to assist those injured during anti-government protests that left 355 dead and hundreds injured, according to data from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. human rights. (IACHR).
Ortega, a 76-year-old former guerrilla fighter, accuses the clergy of colluding with his opponents in a failed coup to overthrow him with US backing.