Aside from deporting priests from Nicaragua, the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, recently banned the "Cyreneans," one of the traditions of Nicaraguan Catholic Churches during Holy Week.
"Cyreneans" Tradition During Holy Week
The practice of the "Cyreneans" was outlawed by the local police in the town of Nindir, which is located in the Masaya area, on the Monday of Holy Week, Apr. 3. According to the Catholic News Agency, the practice honors Simon of Cyrene, who, on the route to Calvary, assisted Christ in carrying the cross that he was required to carry.
As mentioned, one of the young people in the procession said that the authorities started following them as criminals, even though they just wanted to carry on a religious and cultural tradition passed down through their family for several centuries.
Moreover, a resident in the area stated that as long as people continue to practice their Catholic faith openly, the only goal that the police have is to harass the general populace and outlaw any public displays of Catholicism.
On the other hand, a video of an encounter between a police officer and a young guy dressed in Cyrenean garb and holding a cross has been shared on various social media platforms. The officer informs him that he cannot leave the station with that item because "it's prohibited." The young man raises objections to the prohibition and responds, "This is Catholic Nindir!."
As per Catholic Masses, a traditional cross-waterway during Holy Week that had been held in the Diocese of Granada for more an 40 years was also cancelled by Ortega. It is celebrated at Lake Nicaragua, also known by its indigenous name Cocibolca.
Accordingly, the Via Crucis is not only a religious observance but also a tourism activity that helps the income of the local inhabitants, particularly the boatmen, who are harmed by this prohibition. The boatmen cannot participate in the Via Crucis because it is prohibited.
After that, the Ortega government concluded that it would do its version of the Via Crucis on the lake, but there would not be a priest present to pray and direct the 14 meditations at the various stations along the way. "Without our Church, without faith, without piety nor love, that [is] just any show, a carnival," one of the participants said.
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Restrictions of Holy Week Traditions in Nicaragua
According to Vianica.com, a study provided by Martha Patricia Molina, a researcher examining the attacks on the Catholic Church within the framework of religious persecution, so far this year, more than thirty processions have been called off due to safety concerns. Despite this, she claims this is "a conservative number," given that the Archdiocese of Managua comprises 118 parishes.
Moreover, Carlos Enrique Herrera, president of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua (CEN), said that the police have requested that processions be limited to taking place only near churches, much as they did during the season of Lent. He explained that the authorities had only informed them they could only use the streets close to the temple. "It must be for security reasons," he added.
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