Nicaraguan Police Prohibit Religious Procession In Capital

FILE - A masked youth holds a Nicaraguan national flag while standing on the roof of the Cathedral during a one year memorial marking a government crackdown on a Mother's Day march in Managua, Nicaragua, May 30, 2019. Nicaragua’s police have prohibited a religious procession to the Cathedral scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga, File)
FILE - A masked youth holds a Nicaraguan national flag while standing on the roof of the Cathedral during a one year memorial marking a government crackdown on a Mother's Day march in Managua, Nicaragua, May 30, 2019. Nicaragua’s police have prohibited a religious procession to the Cathedral scheduled for Saturday, Aug. 13, 2022. (AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga, File)

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Nicaragua’s police have prohibited a religious procession scheduled for Saturday in the capital, the latest sign of tensions between the government and the Roman Catholic Church.

The Managua Archdiocese urged the faithful to come directly and peacefully to the cathedral Saturday “to pray for the church and Nicaragua.”

“The National Police have advised us that for reasons of internal security the procession scheduled for 7 a.m. this Aug. 13, an activity planned on the occasion of the Marian Congress and conclusion of the pilgrimage of the image of Our Lady of Fatima in national territory, is not permitted,” the archdiocese said in a statement.

On Aug. 1, the government announced that Matagalpa Bishop Rolando Álvarez was under investigation for allegedly promoting hate and inciting violence. It said he would not be permitted to leave the church compound that includes his residence while the investigation continued. Police have kept the compound encircled.

Álvarez has been an outspoken critic of President Daniel Ortega’s government.

Prior to that, the government closed seven radio stations owned by the Catholic Church in Matagalpa province.

The police have not allowed large public gatherings, except those sponsored by the government or the ruling Sandinista National Liberation Front party, since September 2018. Earlier that year, in April, huge street protests became a call for Ortega to step down.

Ortega has maintained that it was a coup attempt carried out with foreign backing and the support of the church. Since then his government has moved against voices of dissent, including political opposition leaders and more than 1,000 nongovernmental organizations.