24 August 2023, The Tablet

Nicaragua moves to suppress the Jesuits

The government claimed that the Jesuits had not provided financial statements for the years 2020-2022, violating transparency laws.

Nicaragua moves to suppress the Jesuits

Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega in June this year. The Central American Jesuits have accused him of creating “a climate of violence and insecurity”.
Zuma Press Inc / Alamy

The Nicaraguan interior ministry has removed the legal status of the Society of Jesus in the country and said it will confiscate its assets.

It announced on 23 August that it had cancelled the official registration of the “Association Society of Jesus” and that its property would pass to the state. 

The confiscation notice claimed that the Jesuits had not provided financial statements for the years 2020-2022 and that its board’s term of office had expired, violating transparency laws.

The measure primarily affects two Jesuit schools, Colegio Centro América and Instituto Loyola, though both are registered separately from the society’s legal entity. Local media reported that parents rushed to the schools to get their children’s academic records and certificates.

The rector of Colegio Centro América said that neither his school nor the Instituto Loyola had received any notification. The Colegio Centro América has existed for 106 years and the Instituto Loyola for 76 years.

The spokesperson for the Central American Jesuits, Fr José María Tojeira, said that the Nicaraguan Jesuits had in fact submitted the required documents but that the ministry had refused to accept them without giving any explanation.

Fr Tojeira said that the purpose of the “Association Society of Jesus” was used to hold and transfer funds to support retired Jesuits.

The government action comes less than a week after it closed the Jesuit-run Central American University in Managua, accusing it of being a “centre of terrorism”.

On 19 August government officials evicted the community Jesuits who worked at the university from their nearby residence.  Although the property was privately-owned by the society, separately from the university, they were told: “It now belongs to the state”.

Last week the Central American Conference of Jesuit Provincials issued a statement condemning this latest series of attacks on the Church by President Daniel Ortega’s regime.

It said the “new government aggression” was “not an isolated incident” but part “of a series of unjustified attacks on educational and social institutions that are generating a climate of violence and insecurity”.

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