Sede Vacante | Chapter 2
The Power of Influence
Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo giving communion to Daniel Ortega at a 2005 Mass
The decision of Cardinal Sebastián Gaggio is currently eroding an entire Episcopal conference in Nicaragua.
During his time in Rome, specifically between 1973 and 1984, one of Cardinal Gaggio's most influential positions was Prefect of the Congregation of Bishops. This role involved preparing lists of candidates for the episcopacy. Although Cardinal Gaggio always emphasized that he was not the ultimate decision-maker, as the Pope alone had that authority, he wielded considerable powers of patronage.
Bishop Rene Sandigo was ordained by Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who in turn came to the episcopate through the influence of Cardinal Gaggio. Cardinal Obando was known for his role as a mediator during times of conflict in Nicaragua. In his final years, Cardinal Obando y Bravo became a loyal ally of the Sandinista regime to such an extent that he was declared a "Procer de la Paz" (Hero of Peace) by the Nicaraguan government. His name was even enshrined in the country's constitution in 2014 while he was still alive.
Bishop Rene Sandigo, being guarded by Commissioner Avellan (Repressor of Daniel Ortega's Regmiemn)
What is happening in Nicaragua?
Let's take a moment to focus on the small country of Nicaragua, located in Central America. This nation is currently enduring the horrors of a dictatorship, being governed by the second most influential witch in the world, according to statements made by Father Héctor Ramírez, director of Mater de Fátima Internacional.
Nicaragua has been experiencing a political and social crisis since April 2018, which has intensified over the past year, including assaults, arrests, and mistreatment of priests, as well as the imprisonment of a bishop for 26 years simply for criticizing the actions of the Nicaraguan regime. In an interview with Infobae, Pope Francis referred to the Sandinista government as a "gross and Hitlerian dictatorship," highlighting the imbalance of the person leading the Central American country.
The bishop endured 16 days of house arrest at the Curia of Matagalpa, along with six priests, four seminarians, and three laypeople. Before being forcibly abducted by agents of the Nicaraguan national police on August 19, 2022, one of the priests who accompanied the bishop during those days recounted the horrors they experienced at the hands of the dictatorship.
The story of one of the priests who accompanied Bishop Rolando Alvarez in the days in the Curia
On that day, I was there because it was Thursday, and we had a program of prayer and communion with the bishop. However, we soon realized that we were not allowed to leave the Curia. We were in a sort of captivity within our own home. Monsignor (Rolando) said that we should take the Blessed Sacrament to the streets for prayer, and we did. This caused many people to pay attention to what was happening.
Afterward, we spent 15 days in confinement at the Episcopal Curia, which also served as a time of retreat and intensified prayer. We participated in the recitation of the rosary and attended Mass, which was broadcasted on our Facebook page. On August 19, around 3:00 AM, there was a loud bang at the main door of the Curia. There were no lights on the streets, and the police forcefully entered to take us away without telling us where we were being taken.
We arrived at the Judicial Assistance cells known as "El Chipote," where we experienced various forms of physical abuse. They often forced us to remain in our underwear, and we were not allowed to lift our heads when leaving the cells. Our cells were small, measuring around 3 square meters, and we were subjected to beatings and mistreatment.
In contrast, Bishop Rolando Alvarez being imprisoned by the same authorities of the Sandinista Regime
But one thing surpasses all of that: the prison guards made us listen to and watch the homilies of Bishop Rene Sandino (a fellow member of the Nicaraguan episcopate with Monsignor Rolando Alvarez). In those homilies, he stated, "We are fine," mentioning that "We are mistaken and not part of the Church." When you are repeatedly made to feel forgotten, as if no one cares about you, there comes a moment when you start to believe it's real.
The Metamorphosis of Monsignor Rene Sandigo to Sandinismo
What happened in 2011 to cause such a striking change in this bishop's attitude? Sources close to the Curia of Juigalpa, where Sandigo was in charge until 2019, claim that he experienced a robbery at his house during those days. Among other belongings, his computer was stolen. "He did not report the robbery because it was a veiled threat," says the source. However, other ecclesiastical sources believe that Sandigo began receiving favors from the regime, such as a trip to Israel worth over 3 million córdobas, taken with 26 members of his clergy.
The Diocese of Juigalpa stated that the trip was part of a program offered by the Catholic University of John Paul II, which was affiliated with Sandigo's diocese. On the other hand, some priests said that they obtained the funds for the trip through "foreign aid, support from parishioners," and loans that some of them took because it was a "dream trip."
No further information is available, but these details raise questions in the search for an explanation for the bishop's metamorphosis.
St. Alphonsus Liguori Doctor of the Church, 1696-1787
“If ever a Pope (Bishop), as a private person, should fall into heresy, he should at once fall from the Pontificate. If, however, God were to permit a pope to become a notorious and contumacious heretic, he would by such fact cease to be pope, and the apostolic chair would be vacant.” (Verita bella Fede. Pt. iii, Ch.viii, 9-10. )
Is Bishop Sandigo really a Bishop according to Church Doctrine, or is the See simply vacant in the Diocese of Leon in Nicaragua?