The six sinister actions of Daniel Ortega against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua

A convicted bishop and nine priests arrested. Assets and property of the Catholic Church have been confiscated, its media silenced, and its workers besieged and persecuted.

Temples have been desecrated and bank accounts frozen. The abuse of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo has reached such a point that at this moment all the clergy are accused of money laundering from the parishes. How did you get to that level of institutional savagery?

Play 1: Dehumanizing and guilty speech

The dictator Daniel Ortega never forgave the bishops who in 2018 recommended that he and his wife leave power and dismantle the violence that they had unleashed using police and parapolice against citizens as a way out of the crisis the country was experiencing.

dialogue political prisoners
Power, dialogue and political prisoners.

The regime forgot that the bishops only fulfilled their role as mediators and interlocutors during the first attempt at dialogue between the repressive Sandinista forces and the civic opposition and that they were not the only ones convinced that it was the right path, the international community thought so too , just like independent local leaders.

On July 19, 2018, the year of the social protests that Ortega and Murillo crushed with blood and fire, the regime celebrated the 39th anniversary of the fall of the Somoza dictatorship and at the same time the official installation of its dictatorship “without masks” or “half inks”.

Related news: Archbishop of Managua calls for calm while the Police “investigate” the Church for “money laundering”

Those assassinated by his security forces did not yet reach the 355 that had accumulated at the end of the year and the blood of the then 277 dead was still fresh when Ortega began his hate speech against the bishops: he accused them of organizing a coup d’état , of using churches to store weapons, of ordering the assassination of police officers and of financing protests.

That spiel would be the first of an endless series of hate speeches against the bishops, whom he has called demons, mafia, criminal gang, whitewashed sepulchres, torturers, terrorists, murderers and sellouts.

Play 2: Siege of temples and priests

The second action by Ortega and Murillo against the priests and the temples began together with the so-called clean-up operations against the barricades and roadblocks throughout the country.

US House of Representatives condemns repression against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua
The Ortega regime besieges the Episcopal Curia of Matagalpa.

This phase began in 2018 itself and had its crudest moments on July 13, 2018 with the rifle attack against the Divine Mercy Church, where paramilitaries and police killed two students in an extensive nighttime siege against the temple.

Then nothing stopped the dictator in his attacks: churches throughout the country were subjected to police siege, desecration of their symbols, blockade of streets and violent dispersal of parishioners.

An example of this was the San Miguel Church in Masaya, under the direction of Father Edwin Román, the police maintained a siege for two weeks because mothers of young people murdered on the orders of Ortega and Murillo demanded justice in those facilities.

Ortega cordoned off the area, cut off electricity and water, and prevented access to food and medicine until the mothers left exhausted. However, things got worse when in July 2020, an alleged Sandinista militant threw a Molotov cocktail at the Santísimo chapel and set fire to the sacred site, an attack condemned by Pope Francis himself.

Play 3: Banishments and expulsions

In his dirty war against the church, Ortega has spared no evil. He pressured the Vatican to expel Bishop Silvio Báez into exile and harassed other priests until they were forced to leave their country.

Pope Francis letter
Leaders of the Catholic Church have not spoken out against the persecution of the regime “out of prudence”

In the same way, he expelled the Apostolic Nuncio from Nicaragua in 2021 and cut relations with the Vatican, closing the headquarters there and forcing the closure of the Pope’s offices in Managua and expelling his staff.

Then he expanded his repertoire of sanctions. If before he expelled priests, then he began to close the borders and confiscate passports so that they could not leave the country, at the same time, he detained the priests in the temples and made them barefoot at the borders or forced them to get on planes and trucks out of Nicaragua.

Nuns, bishops, priests, presbyters and all sorts of people linked to the clergy have been under this evil game since 2018.

Play 4: Override and confiscate them

Even with all the chips on the board threatening the clergy, Ortega has not stopped thinking about what other evil to do to the Catholic Church.

If he had already threatened, beaten, persecuted and besieged them, what else was missing to continue doing damage? Ah yes, annul their organizations and confiscate their property.

The nuns attended the López Carazo nursing home, located in the city of Rivas
The nuns attended the López Carazo nursing home, located in the city of Rivas

Since 2021, the Ortega administration has been canceling civil society organizations, human rights organizations, the media, universities and all institutions beyond its control.

Of course, it also went against the assets and organizations of the Church. More than 35 civil organizations attached to the Catholic Church have been canceled and their assets confiscated. From Catholic charity associations, community media, schools, technical training centers and even Catholic universities have fallen under the Sandinista guillotine.

Play 5: Seize priests

Destroying temples, besieging them, offending and accusing priests, expelling them and taking their property was not enough for Ortega and Murillo. How could they do more damage to him? It occurred to them to take away their freedom.

In June 2022, the dictatorship began arresting priests whom it accused of common crimes: assault, rape, disorderly conduct, and other minor crimes.

That was not enough, because in August 2022, the police stormed the episcopal palace of the Matagalpa diocese and kidnapped Bishop Rolando Álvarez, along with a dozen people, including other priests.

Cenidh questions the silence of the Catholic Church in the face of repression against priests
Cenidh questions the silence of the Catholic Church in the face of repression against priests

Of the common crimes imputed to the first priests, they went on to accuse him of more serious crimes: treason and cybercrimes.

They wanted to banish Álvarez along with 222 political prisoners last February, but the priest refused to leave the country and Ortega, furious as always, sentenced him to 26 years in prison.

Pope Francis reacted unusually against Ortega and accused his dictatorship of being a combination of the worst of the communist dictatorships and the Nazi dictatorships. Since then, Ortega has kept Álvarez in punishment cells and under torture, while he is putting more priests in jail.

Play 6: Accuse the entire Catholic Church

Determined to death to destroy the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, Ortega has not ceased in his evil purposes. If he has already annulled his institutions, besieged and desecrated his temples, expelled and imprisoned priests, stolen his assets, cut his ties with the Vatican, what else could Ortega and Murillo do?

What was missing: accuse the entire Catholic Church of crimes and serious crimes. The Sandinista police, subservient to the extreme of the Ortega Murillos, issued a confusing statement with a very clear message: they are accusing all the clergy of money laundering.

Related news: Repression of the Church is “State terrorism”, the international community must intervene, say analysts

Such an action would allow the State to freeze the church’s bank accounts, confiscate its temples and property, and charge and convict all its members, without the right to bail or appeals.

The idea, while it seems far-fetched, is simply brutal: Ortega and Murillo seem intent on cutting off any flow of money to priests, closing churches, and stifling any humanitarian support from the clergy to Nicaragua’s Catholic population.

It is, in the minds of the Ortega-Murillos, a check on the Catholic Church.

By United Voices

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