Home Central americaNicaragua Ortega and the Catholic Church, in five years: Persecution, jail, exile and confiscation

Ortega and the Catholic Church, in five years: Persecution, jail, exile and confiscation

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They demand from Ortega a "Christmas without priests political prisoners"

After high-ranking leaders of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua were mediators, in 2018, of the failed national dialogue between the opposition and the Sandinista regime, the dictator Daniel Ortega made clear his hatred against the clergy, openly ranting and calling them accomplices of what called an “attempted coup”.

The threats and persecution against the Catholic Church of Nicaragua, the dictatorship of Daniel Ortega was consummating in 2022. On March 6 of that year, he expelled from the country the Papal Nuncio Monsignor Waldemar Stanislav Sommertagwho served as the delegate of the Holy Father in Nicaragua, since 2018.

Related news: Pope appoints apostolic nuncio expelled by Ortega in Africa

The religious diplomat was also in the second attempt at dialogue with the Nicaraguan dictatorship and interceded on several occasions for the political prisoners. After the departure of the religious, the Nicaraguan bishops were grateful for the diplomatic management of the Vatican in the country.

Apostolic Nuncio Monsignor Waldemar Stanislav Sommertag was expelled from Nicaragua

To date, there are more than 80 religious among nuns and priests expelled by the government. The last to be expelled this year were the Sisters of the Poor Fraternity of Jesus Christ.

The journalist who covers religious issues Israel Gonzalez explained to Article 66 that the situation of the Church in Nicaragua “is an open religious persecution.” He also asserts that according to the latest report on Religious Freedom from the Pontifical Foundation, Nicaragua has become the only country in the Western Hemisphere where the Christian faith is persecuted.

Related news: Ortega shows that it is a “totalitarian regime” by breaking diplomatic relations with the Vatican

“This situation brings enormous discredit to the Ortega regime, which has not only been politically condemned, due to the repression and authoritarianism of the State, but also for the crimes against humanity that it has carried out against people who were expressing themselves peacefully in the demonstrations of 2018,” he said.

Breaking of diplomatic relations with the Vatican

Another of the actions that the Daniel Ortega regime took against the Catholic Church was breaking diplomatic relations with the Vatican and the Holy See. This occurred on March 12 of this year.

According to the Confidencial media outlet, the reasons that led the Nicaraguan dictatorship to break diplomatic relations were the declarations of the Pope Francisco about the situation in Nicaragua, where he called the Ortega administration “guaranga”.

The Ortega regime confirms that it
The Ortega regime confirms that it “proposes” the suspension of relations with the Vatican. Image: Article 66.

It is a “rude dictatorship, guaranga,” said the pope, while indicating that the person who governs (Ortega) has an “imbalance.” The pontiff also supported the position of Monsignor Rolando Alvarezwhom the president has kept locked up since August 2022 and sent to La Modelo prison on February 9, for refusing exile.

Related news: Daniel Ortega breaks diplomatic relations with the Vatican

For its part, the Sandinista government confirmed the imminent rupture, through a press release from the Foreign Ministry. The official statement indicated that “between the Vatican State and the Republic of Nicaragua a suspension of diplomatic relations has been proposed.”

For the journalist González, the breaking of diplomatic relations between Nicaragua and the Vatican is “a dynamic of flight forward and is the consolidation of a totalitarian and authoritarian regime that does not accept dissent or the moral authority of Pope Francis.”

Daniel Ortega breaks diplomatic relations with the Vatican
Daniel Ortega breaks diplomatic relations with the Vatican. Photo: File. digital religion

He also insisted that “we must remember that Pope Francis is a world leader, who is also head of state and that his voice is heard throughout the world, but a regime that also proclaims itself as Christian, despising the bishop of Rome, that it gives you an account of the degree of closure and the completely anachronistic and authoritarian mood of the presidential couple Ortega and Murillo».

“Ortega does not accept any type of criticism or any type of support to get out of the authoritarian and repressive quagmire in which he has gotten himself, and that is part of that contempt against the figure of Pope Francis who always appealed to resolve what is happening in Nicaraguan society,” he added.

Persecutions and arbitrary arrests

Between 2021 and 2022, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua continues to suffer an attack by the Ortega dictatorship, undertaking a “voracious” persecution against priests.

In June of last year, the Nicaraguan justice system imprisoned priests Manuel Salvador García, parish priest of the Jesús de Nazareno church, in the municipality of Nandaime, in the Diocese of Granada, being the first priest to be arrested by the regime. The religious man was apprehended on June 1, 2021, accused and convicted of assaulting a woman and threatening to kill Ortega sympathizers.

Related news: I/A Court HR extends provisional measures to Monsignor Álvarez and orders his immediate release

while monsignor Leonardo Urbina Rodriguez, parish priest of the Church of Perpetual Help in Boaco, was arrested on July 13 in his city. At that time he was the second religious arrested. The regime sentenced him to 30 years in prison for the alleged crime of raping a minor under 14 years of age and minor psychological injuries to the detriment of the 12-year-old victim of the initials MJVS.

Then, on August 4, 2022, he carried out his onslaught against Monsignor Rolando Alvarez, Bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, whom he sentenced to 26 years in prison for allegedly “conspiring against the homeland”; he also imprisoned other religious who were later exiled to the United States.

Monsignor Álvarez has been cautious in “La Modelo” for more than 70 days.  Photo: Article 66 / El 19 Digital
Monsignor Álvarez, political prisoner of Ortega. Photo: Article 66 / El 19 Digital

So far, the Ortega y Murillo regime keeps at least five priests behind bars, whom it refuses to release. It is known, from unofficial sources, that the dictatorship is “negotiating” the deportation of the religious, news that was recently denied by Cardinal Leopoldo Brenes.

For his part, a Catholic journalist, exiled in the United States, recalled that “the Church in Nicaragua has not been immune to all this, it suffered in the 1980s, it continues to suffer today, having a bishop and five priests in jail, other religious banished, exiled, religious congregations expelled».

He also pointed out that two seminarians were exiled, three laymen “who for exercising their profession in the media of the Diocese of Matagalpa were imprisoned and stripped of their nationality, on February 9, other laymen who for fear have decided to leave their country ; media, social networks, closed universities and institutions, unemployment, in short, the outlook looks dark, but it is not the end of the Church,” the communicator from the United States said.

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