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Pope Condemns Brutal Expulsion of Nicaraguan Bishop by Communists

On Sunday, July 6, at the conclusion of Mass, Pope John Paul II forcefully expressed his sorrow and condemnation over the brutal expulsion of a Nicaraguan Bishop from his homeland.

"I am profoundly disturbed, I say, by the sad news that Bishop Pablo Antonio Vega Mantilla, Prelate of Juigalpa and Vice-President of the Episcopal Conference of Nicarauga, was forcibly removed from his Prelature and expelled from his own country."

Besides the words of the Holy Father, the Bishops of Nicaragua have addressed a letter to all the Catholic Bishops of the whole world, asking for prayer and solidarity in the grave difficulties that face the Church in that country. We give here a few excerpts to give you an idea how grave the situation is:

1. "The situation of the Church in Nicaragua is steadily becoming more difficult in the face of the growth of pressures and threats on the part of the Government of the Republic:

The person of the Holy Father, John Paul II and the persons of the Bishops of the Country are constantly mocked and calumniated, by means of the governmental media of communications.

The priests who are loyal to the bishops receive continual visits on the part of members of the State security, who aim to separate them from their bishops by means of flatteries or threats. The same strategy is used with the faithful to separate them from their parish priests and to pressure them into becoming informers against their own Church, threatening them with reprisals against themselves or against their families, if they fail to do so.

Bishop Pablo Antonio Vega, a Nicaraguan, Prelate of Juigalpa, Vice-President of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, and member of the Pontifical Commission Iustitia et Pax, was expelled from the country on July 4, 1986 while he was in his episcopal residence.

Besides this, the Sisters of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, after a year of activity, were denied the possibility of founding two communities in Nicaragua.

2. The silence to which they aim to subject the Church in Nicaragua is total, both inside and outside the land:

The moral and physical security of the bishops, priests, religious and faithful is constantly threatened by scandals, demonstrations of "the masses", requests for death or expulsion from the land, if they persist in fidelity to the Church and in the defence of human rights.

3. The so-called "popular Church" which is totally at the service of the Government, is the most dangerous weapon used by the Government as it seeks to divide the Church (cf. Pastoral Letter of the Nicaraguan Episcopate. 18 April 1986).

(L'Osservatore Romano, July 14, 1986)