While we are facing and fighting the endarked times around us here in the United States, these times are uniquely impacting our brothers and sisters abroad. One particular way in which they are made manifest is through the imprisonment of two of our brothers in Christ. They have been persecuted for courageously standing up for the Catholic faith and human rights and bringing the causes of freedom and human dignity into the public square, and now are in prison.
This image of our crucified Lord was drawn by Mr. Jimmy Lai and sent to a friend in North America. Lai is a 75-year-old Catholic businessman in Hong Kong who, inspired by his Catholic faith, has peacefully advocated democracy and respect for human rights. Because he spoke the truth in the fight for freedom, Mr. Lai has been jailed by Communist Chinese authorities since December 2020, and is awaiting his final trial this September, which could result in a life sentence in Mainland China.
Rolando Alvarez of the Diocese of Matagalpa, Nicaragua. In Nicaragua, the Catholic Church has faced persecution with increased vigor over the last five years. Clergy and lay faithful are targeted, police obstructing access to churches, Catholic radio stations have been shut down, Church-affiliated civil society groups have been eliminated, and restrictions have befallen religious observances, including the prohibition of public Stations of the Cross, and the papal nuncio has been expelled. Bishop Alvarez last month was sentenced to 26 years in prison and stripped of his citizenship for QUOTE, “treason, undermining national integrity, and spreading false news.”. His family and Church officials are being denied any information as to his condition, and whereabouts, and prison officials have refused their provisions of food and water for him. Recently, the official government newspaper, La Gaceta announced that the government has now rescinded the legal status, and seized the assets of the nations, Caritas branches, and two Catholic universities, Universidad Juan Pablo II and Universidad Cristiana Autonoma de Nicaragua, essentially shutting them down. Soon thereafter, the Nicaraguan government said it has proposed suspending relations with the Vatican after Pope Francis rightly denounced the crackdown of the Catholic Church.
Here is basic guidance for a spiritual bouquet that can be prepared and sent to Mr. Lai at the address to Stanley Prison in Hong Kong, and to Bishop Alvarez in care of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua in Managua.
We respectfully ask you and your family members send a spiritual bouquet for Mr. Lai and Bishop Alvarez as a Lenten corporal work of mercy to lift the soul of a prisoner and let them each know that fellow Catholics are praying for them.