Zovko strongly condemns the arbitrary arrest of Nicaraguan Bishop Rolando Alvarez
Strasbourg, 14 September 2022
Vice Chair of the Foreign Affairs Committee Željana Zovko has initiated a debate during the plenary session of the European Parliament on the case of the house arrest of Bishop Rolando Alvarez in Nicaragua. The debate will be followed by a parliamentary resolution for which Zovko led the negotiations.
On 19 August 2022, Bishop Alvarez was arbitrarily arrested and placed under house arrest by the Nicaraguan regime under the accusation of organizing “destabilizing and provocative” activities. Bishop Alvarez is a known critic of the regime of Daniel Ortega and he openly calls for the respect of democracy and freedom of religion.
During the urgency debate, Zovko strongly condemned the actions taken against the bishop and others and calls for the immediate release of those arbitrarily detained. She calls this case another example of the persecution of the Catholic Church and its members in Nicaragua.
“I lived all my life with similar stories that the communist regime did in my country,” Zovko referring to the case of Bishop Čule, who was imprisoned for ten years because he wanted to build a cathedral in Mostar, which wasn’t allowed until the eighties. In addition, Zovko referred to Cardinal Stepinac, who was poisoned while in prison for defending the rights of his people and teh freedom of religion.
The resolution negotiated by Zovko is supported by a big majority of the political groups. Zovko praised the colleagues that worked with her on the text and that there is an understanding of the importance to speak up against the persecution of Christians and the Catholic Church.
Zovko concluded her intervention by a quote of Cardinal Stepinac who once said: “When they take everything away from me, when they take everything away from you, the only thing you have is two hands. You start praying. It is then when you are the strongest.”