09 June 2023, The Tablet

Schools seized and priests arrested in Nicaragua

CONFER, the general assembly of Spanish religious, has expressed its concern at the treatment of religious in the country.

Schools seized and priests arrested in Nicaragua

The interior of St John’s Cathedral in Jinotega, Nicaragua.
Adam Cohn/flickr | Creative Commons

The Nicaraguan authorities have seized two schools run by religious sisters and evicted them from their premises.

Police occupied the Technical Institute in San Sebastián de Yalí, run by the Missionary Daughters of Santa Luisa Marillac, on 30 May. 

The nuns, who ran community training courses at the institute, have been asked to give statements in the capital Managua.  It was not clear whether they would be expelled from the country, as 32 nuns from various orders have been in recent months.

The occupation of the institute followed the closure of the Susana López Carazo school in the south of the country, run by the Dominican Sisters of the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin – three of whose members have been expelled.

CONFER, the general assembly of Spanish religious, has expressed its concern at the treatment of religious in the country.

In a statement, the assembly’s president Fray Jesús Díaz Sariego OP said: “There is great confusion because, paradoxically, these are congregations that are very committed to the people of Nicaragua.

“They are committed to social work, to human promotion, to women, to caring for the elderly, the sick, and children. They work with the poorest.”

The past month has seen a series of official measures against the Nicaraguan Church, including accusations of money laundering by diocese and the arrest of three priests in a week – one, Fr Jaime Iván Montesinos Sauceda, on suspicion of “committing acts undermining the nation’s independence and integrity”.

In a statement on 26 May, Aid to the Church in Need (ACN) condemned the Sandinista government’s “clear attempt to silence the Church”.

“In a situation of strong political and social degradation, the Church’s role as peace broker and promoter of reconciliation has resulted in repression, false accusations, arrests and unjustified prison sentences,” ACN said.

Last week the White House reiterated its condemnation of the Nicaraguan regime.

The US National Security Council Coordinator for Strategic Communications, John Kirby, said at a press conference: “There’s been a dramatic deterioration of respect for democratic principles and human rights by the Ortega-Murillo regime, including the harassment and imprisonment of democratic leaders, members of political opposition parties, faith leaders, as you rightly said, including from the Catholic Church, students, and journalists.”

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