Pope Francis on Sunday expressed sadness and worry at the news that a Roman Catholic bishop had been sentenced to 26 years in prison in Nicaragua.
The jailing of Bishop Rolando Alvarez, an outspoken critic of the Nicaraguan government, is believed to be the latest move against the Catholic Church and government opponents.
Mr Alvarez was sentenced on Friday, after refusing to get on a flight to the United States with 222 other prisoners, all opponents of the president, Daniel Ortega.
In addition to his prison term, Mr Alvarez was stripped of his Nicaraguan citizenship.
He called on the faithful to pray for the politicians responsible “to open their hearts”.
Mr Alvarez was arrested in August along with several other priests and lay people.
President Ortega ordered the mass release of political leaders, priests, students and activists widely considered political prisoners and had some of them put on a flight to Washington on Thursday.
Mr Ortega said Mr Alvarez refused to board without being able to consult with other bishops.
Nicaragua’s president called Mr Alvarez’s refusal “an absurd thing”.
The bishop, who had been held under house arrest, was then taken to the nearby La Modelo prison.