In a scorching address marking the 43rd anniversary of the National Police, Ortega referred to the Catholic Church as “the perfect dictatorship.”
Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega accused Catholic leaders of being a “gang of murderers,” claiming that bishops in Nicaragua called on protesters to kill him during 2018 demonstrations. He also scorned Pope Francis’ call for dialogue in the country.
In a vitriolic address marking the 43rd anniversary of the National Police, Ortega referred to the Catholic Church as “the perfect dictatorship”: “Who elected the bishops, the pope, the cardinals? […] “With what moral authority do they speak of democracy? […] Everything [in the church] is imposed. It’s a dictatorship, the perfect dictatorship. It’s a tyranny, the perfect tyranny.”
Ortega (who considers himself a Catholic) won the elections in 2021 after disqualifying and imprisoning opposition candidates. Since then, his regime has persecuted priests and bishops standing for the defense of human rights and democratic institutions. In fact, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has gone through more than 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral, the expulsion of the Missionaries of Charity, the prohibition of traditional feasts and processions, and the highly irregular ongoing house arrest of Bishop Rolando Álvarez, accused of “crimes against spirituality.” The priests who were arrested with him are kept in El Chipote prison, where the regime keeps its political prisoners. The Nicaraguan Center for Human Rights (CENIDH) has repeatedly denounced the facility as a psychological torture center.
Pope Francis: “Concern and sorrow”
Pope Francis has said he is convinced that dialogue can establish a basis for co-existence and entrusted this intention to Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, called upon in Nicaragua as the “Most Pure,” Purísima.
The pope made his appeal after leading the faithful in the midday Angelus in Rome last August 21.
I am following closely, with concern and sorrow, the situation created in Nicaragua that involves persons and institutions. I would like to express my conviction and my hope that, through an open and sincere dialogue, the basis for a respectful and peaceful co-existence might still be found.
Let us ask the Lord, through the intercession of the Purísima, to inspire everyone’s heart with this concrete will.