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Pope worried about Nicaraguan bishop sentenced to 26 years

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Pope worried about Nicaraguan bishop sentenced to 26 years

MEXICO CITY (AP) — Pope Francis on Sunday expressed sadness and worry at the news that Bishop Rolando Álvarez, an outspoken critic of the Nicaraguan government, had been sentenced to 26 years in prison.

It’s just the latest move against the Catholic Church and government opponents, and comes amid growing concern for Álvarez.

“The news that arrived from Nicaragua has saddened me no little,” the pontiff said, expressing both his love and concern at a traditional Sunday gathering in St. Peter’s Square.

He called on the faithful to pray for the politicians responsible “to open their hearts.”

Álvarez was sentenced Friday, after refusing to get on a flight to the United States with 222 other prisoners, all opponents of President Daniel Ortega. In addition to his prison term, Álvarez was stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship.

The bishop said if he boarded the plane, it would be he was admitting he was guilty to a crime he never committed, according to a person close to Álvarez who asked not the be identified out of fear of reprisal.


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