"Seeing the Catholic crowds is a slap in the face for a regime like that of Ortega and Murillo that has such little support in Nicaragua." Honduran Bishop Antonio Canales spoke out against the Nicaraguan government's measure to suspend all Holy Week processions in a country that is overwhelmingly Catholic. A few days ago, the country's first lady Rosario Murillo, who in this case is not a merely symbolic figure but a very active participant in these types of decisions, announced the release of 2,500 prisoners so that they could enjoy Holy Week. She made no mention of political prisoners.
There has been no official statement on the matter, neither from the government nor from the Catholic hierarchy. Parishes announced to their parishioners that there would be no processions for other reasons and in some cases explained that they had received visits from the "authorities." A religious source told the newspaper La Prensa that "the regime of Ortega and Murillo banned the Stations of the Cross processions throughout the country, one of the most important parts of Holy Week. After mass on Ash Wednesday, the police arrived to announce a permit couldn’t be issued for security reasons.”
The government's order came after Daniel Ortega called priests, bishops, cardinals and the pope a "mafia." The Nicaraguan cardinal, Leopoldo José Brenes Solórzano replied to Ortega's comment in a message at the beginning of Lent reminding all believers to "love the enemy." The Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua has not officially commented on the matter.