Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua expels Italian priest from the country

Ortega dictatorship in Nicaragua expels Italian priest from the country

Father Cosimo Damiano Muratori. / Credit: Sanctuary Of The Servant Of God Odorico D Andrea

CNA Newsroom, Feb 17, 2023 / 12:30 pm (CNA).

The Nicaraguan dictatorship led by President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, has expelled Italian priest Cosimo Damiano Muratori from the country after the priest called the 26 years and four months prison sentence for Bishop Rolando Álvarez a “historic action.”

Father Muratori “intervened in an insulting manner in matters concerning only Nicaraguans,” the Ministry of the Interior said in a press release.

In addition, the Nicaraguan government said that INTERPOL Italy requested the priest’s flight itinerary because he was sentenced in 2009 to four years and six months in prison in the city of Perugia for the crime of sexual violence.

However, the Article 66 news site confirmed that the priest’s data does not appear on the international organization’s website.

The Nicaraguan media outlet also reported that on Sunday, Feb. 12, Muratori spoke about the sentence against Álvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa, and his decision to stay in Nicaragua.

“He was on the list of those who had to go to the United States. Did Bishop Álvarez leave? Why didn’t he leave? Because he didn’t want to! In the end, 222 people took the plane and one didn’t. Was Bishop Álvarez right? He stayed and, to me, he’s a real man with mettle. They’re putting me in prison, [then] throw me in prison,” the priest said regarding the bishop during his homily at the El Tepeyac Franciscan Shrine in Jinotega.

The Ortega dictatorship deported 222 political prisoners to the United States on Feb. 9. Álvarez refused to board the plane with the deportees and decided to stay in Nicaragua.

The following day, Álvarez was sentenced to 26 years and four months in prison, accused of “treason,” “spreading fake news,” and “aggravated obstruction of an official in the performance of his duties to the detriment of the State and the Republic of Nicaragua.”

Following Muratori’s criticism in his homily, government officials visited the priest and asked him to report to the General Directorate for Migration and Foreigners (DGME) in Managua the following day.

The priest left early in the morning to keep the appointment requested by the Nicaraguan authorities and his whereabouts were unknown until his expulsion from the country was announced.

Muratori is rector of the El Tepeyac Franciscan Shrine in the town of San Rafael del Norte in the Jinotega district and vice postulator of the cause for canonization of the Servant of God Odorico D’Andrea, an Italian Franciscan missionary known for his evangelizing work in northern Nicaragua.

In 2021, and after several decades of service to the Church in Nicaragua, the DGME withdrew Muratori’s residency permit. Since then, the priest renewed his stay in the country every 90 days.

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

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