han pasado desde el robo de nuestras instalaciones. No nos rendimos, seguimos comprometidos con informarte.

Nicaragua’s Catholic Church begins lent under surveillance and interrogation

Lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina reported that in January alone, she documented 40 attacks on the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.

The Catholic Church in Nicaragua began Lent amidst constant interrogations of priests and intensified surveillance during masses, said lawyer and catholic researcher Martha Patricia Molina. The exile of two bishops and dozens of priests that were forced out of the country last month due to the brutal persecution by the regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo hasn’t diminished the pressures of the regime against the Church, said Martha Patricia Molina, a lawyer who has followed up on the repression of the dictatorship.

Molina, author of the report “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church” told LA PRENSA that in January 2024 alone, she documented 40 attacks on the Church. Despite enduring relentless harassment over the past six years, “the Church continues with its evangelization project, especially during this Lenten season, but the has progressively been forced into silence, hoping to avoid more repression,” she said.

Molina, who is one of the seven people in the world to have received this year’s International Religious Freedom Award from the U.S. Department of State’s International Religious Freedom Office, noted on her X account that “the situation of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua continues to be adverse”.

Weekly interrogations of the priests

Molina detailed to LA PRENSA that sources from the Archdiocese of Managua and other dioceses informed her that priests are being harassed by officers of the Ortega regime’s Police, dressed in civilian clothing, and authorities from the Ministry of Interior.

“The information I have received corroborates that there is a policy of repression because it is not focused on one parish but on many in the archdioceses, where the police come to pay “visits” to the priests, take photos in the parishes, rectories, and even restrooms. The priests don’t know what they are looking for,” expressed Molina.

She mentioned that the priests are victims of illegal interrogations that last hours and even include offensive remarks. “They are asking for the titles of all properties, whether it’s cars, motorcycles, or whatever the parish owns; they review the parish books. Additionally, they insinuate that they have romantic partners and ask if they respect celibacy, and what is the bishops’ sexual life like. They do this weekly or every ten days, when there are no parishioners present,” Molina emphasized.

The lawyer also mentioned that the above is compounded by the permanent presence of members of the the pro-regime organization Citizens’ Power Council (CPC) at masses and religious activities. Regarding the prohibitions on traditional Lenten processions outside the temples, Molina said, “everything indicates that only processions within the temples will be allowed.”

The expert immediately asserted that it is deplorable “to invade the privacy of priests as human beings, violating all the rights enshrined in the Political Constitution and international treaties. It seems that no one stops the dictatorship; it’s regrettable because the priests cannot do anything without the authorization of the Police.”

Appointments of priests sympathetic to the dictatorship

LA PRENSA learned that Cardinal Leopoldo José Brenes, Archbishop of the Archdiocese of Managua, recently appointed priests that are sympathetic to the dictatorship as administrators of parishes that were left without pastors because they were imprisoned and then exiled to Rome.

In fact, Molina stated that ‘Father Boanerges Carballo Madrigal has been appointed parish administrator of the Santo Cristo de Las Colinas Parish, where before Monsignor Carlos Avilés, the former vicar general, was previously stationed. The faithful are upset about this”.

A source close to the archdiocese told LA PRENSA that “the vacant parishes will be attended to by the parish priests nearby.” In the case of the Santa Faz Parish, which was under the responsibility of Monsignor Silvio Fonseca, it now will be administered by Father Antonio Castro, who is identified as one of the priests close to the dictatorship. In fact, he has used flags of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (FSLN) on the altar and has used the pulpit to extol dictators like Daniel Ortega, Fidel Castro, and Hugo Chávez.

In November 2017, Father Antonio Castro (a known supporter of the regime) celebrated a mass for the first anniversary of Fidel Castro’s death. Credit: El 19 Digital

“The parish of Our Lady of Mercy is close to Santa Faz, and that’s why it will be attended to, because there are two priests, including Father Antonio Castro,” said the source.

On February 7th, LA PRENSA learned that now Father José Ramón Alemán, pastor of Our Lady of Altagracia Church and vicar forane of the western area of Managua, is the new vicar general; and Father Miguel Toruño, current pastor of St. Anne’s Church in Niquinohomo, is the chancellor; both positions were vacant after their pastors were exiled.

Molina pointed out that “now the appointments of these priests are with the approval of Rosario Murillo.” She added, “the usual practice when there are new appointments is to announce them publicly through official statements.”

The exiled priests

The Ortega regime confirmed on January 14th the exile of 19 religious figures: two bishops, 15 priests, and two seminarians, who were first detained and then sent to Rome.

In a letter, the regime thanked Pope Francis, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, and his team, “for the very respectful and discreet coordination made to enable the journey to the Vatican of two bishops, fifteen priests, and two seminarians.”

The religious figures traveled on a plane that departed on the night of Saturday, January 13th, from Managua to Maiquetía International Airport in Venezuela, and then onwards to Europe on Sunday, January 14th.

On the same day, Cardinal Brenes sent an archdiocesan note to the priests of the country informing them of the agreement between the Government of Nicaragua and the Holy See. “It was agreed to transfer to Rome Mons. Rolando (bishop of Matagalpa), Mons. Isidoro (bishop of Siuna), priests, and two seminarians,” the letter stated.

On January 26th, Pope Francis received in audience the bishops Álvarez and Mora and the other 16 exiled religious figures.

English Daniel Ortega Iglesia Católica libre Nicaragua archivo

Puede interesarte


El contenido de LA PRENSA es el resultado de mucho esfuerzo. Te invitamos a compartirlo y así contribuís a mantener vivo el periodismo independiente en Nicaragua.

Comparte nuestro enlace:

Si aún no sos suscriptor, te invitamos a suscribirte aquí