At least 50 Catholic priests from Nicaragua have requested refuge in Honduras and Costa Rica, due to religious persecution by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, as reported by the Honduran media outlet El Heraldo.
Jose Canalsbishop of the Diocese of Danlí, El Paraíso, told the media outlet that this community of Nicaraguan priests “has denounced a resounding rejection by the current Nicaraguan regime, headed by dictator Daniel Ortega.”
Among the arguments of the priests to seek asylum in these two Central American countries is that they are being persecuted, because they do not share the same ideals of the Ortega dictatorship, to the point of opening a file against religious groups that criticize or publicly oppose the structure established by the current government.
“They have expressed to us that they are against situations of injustice and disrespect for human rights in their country,” said Bishop Canales.
The Herald pointed out that so far, of the 50 requests that the priests have expressed to flee from the neighboring country, one has already been made and formally delivered to the Diocese of Danlí.
The prelate added to the media that “we are available to receive those priests who in extreme circumstances have to leave Nicaragua. In this way they can be integrated into the life of the church in El Paraíso».
As for whether Nicaraguan priests have been victims of physical attacks by the dictatorship, Canales told El Heraldo “that the blows have been psychological.”
“I consider this to be worse than a kick, police outside parishes, surrounding their houses or receiving phone calls to try to distress them,” he said.
So far, the dictatorship keeps at least seven Catholic priests behind bars, including Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa, whose place it has kept hermetically sealed.
This 2022 has been the year where the Catholic Church has suffered the greatest repression while Daniel Ortega was in power. Since 2018 – after the failed attempt at dialogue – Ortega declared “war on the entire prelate”, besieging and condemning at least two priests, accusing them of common crimes.