Nicaragua jails second Catholic bishop as crackdown intensifies

(Reuters) -Nicaragua arrested another Catholic bishop on Wednesday, a source in close contact with local church leaders told Reuters following local media reports, making the bishop the second such leader to be detained in a prolonged crackdown.

Police arrested Bishop Isidro Mora of the Triangulo Minero diocese, located along the country’s northern Caribbean coast, according to the source.

Local news outlets including Despacho 505 and La Prensa earlier on Wednesday reported that Mora was arrested for the crime of praying for his fellow detained bishop, Rolando Alvarez.

Over the past few years, Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has targeted Catholic institutions and many of its leaders, including priests, whom he has accused of seeking to undermine his government.

The jailed Alvarez is Nicaragua’s most prominent Ortega critic. He was detained last year after leading mass gatherings and earlier this year was sentenced to 26 years in prison on treason charges after he refused to be expelled to the United States.

Nicaragua’s Catholic bishops conference did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Formal ties between Nicaragua’s government and the Vatican were severed this year after Pope Francis sharply criticized Ortega’s government, labeling it a “gross dictatorship” and comparing it to 20th century communist and Nazi regimes.

(Reporting by Ismael Lopez; Writing by David Alire Garcia; Editing by Sarah Morland and Leslie Adler)