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Archbishop of Nicaragua Complains of Persecution

January 23, 1986

UNITED NATIONS (AP) _ Nicaraguan bishops, in a letter to their president, Daniel Orgega, have accused the Sandinista government of censorship and abuse of the Roman Catholic Church and harrassment of priests.

Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, Archbishop of Managua, on Tuesday read journalists the text of a letter dated Dec. 6, which he said had not previously been made public.

It spoke of a ″a general cry from the faithful ... that the whole nation is concerned even to the point of thinking in many cases that we are in a state of persecution.″

The bishops also wrote of ″attacks on the Catholic Church″ including harrassment of priests by intimidation and threats, interrogation by police, and imprisonment; censorship of church publications and radio broadcasts; and forcing Catholics to sign documents ″containing falsehoods and calumnies against the honor of Catholic persons.″

The letter said the goal of such activities was to neutralize religious activity ″under the false accusation of making politics,″ to isolate Catholics from their priests, and to leave the church without the means to preach the gospel.

Obando y Bravo read the letter and a statement after meeting with U.N. Secretary-General Javier Perez de Cuellar.

He said he is convinced that the secretary-general ″will do everything possible to see that the Nicaraguans are able to find ways which will permit us to live in peace, fraternity and liberty.″

Obando y Bravo ’s visit to Perez de Cuellar was arranged by Cardinal John O’Connor, qrchbishop of New York.

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