After shutting down the Central American University(a Jesuit, private university founded in 1960), expelling the community of Jesuit priests from their private residence close to the university in Managua, and confiscating the university’s assets on Wednesday, August 23, Nicaraguan authorities banned the entire Society of Jesus from the country and ordered the confiscation of all its assets, claiming they failed to comply with tax reporting.
Daniel Ortega’s silencing of dissenting voices in Nicaragua has targeted the Catholic Church systematically for at least five years now.
But the Society of Jesus is not the first religious order banned from Nicaragua. Last year, the Missionaries of Charity were expelled from the country. Ortega’s regime alleged that the Missionaries are not accredited “by the Ministry for the Family to function as a nursery-center for childhood development, home for girls, and home for the elderly,” nor “do they have an operating permit from the Ministry of Education to provide remedial education for students” and that their “financial statements reported to the Ministry of the Interior don’t agree” with other documents presented for review. It is, indeed, the same bureaucratic, pseudo-legal M.O.
Voices from America
Some American authorities are beginning to raise their voices against Ortega’s regime. John I. Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame, published a long op-ed article in the Washington Post. In it, Jenkins rightly says that “Ortega’s attempt to extinguish Catholicism in Nicaragua merits world condemnation on a much larger, and louder, scale.”
To back up his claim, Jenkins refers to the most recent edition of a series of reports on the Catholic Church in Nicaragua by exiled civil rights lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina. The report documented 529 attacks over the past five years — 90 so far this year. The Church is being systematically targeted because it is “the last [independent] bastion left in Nicaragua.”
The regime, Molina explains, “took the media, the institutions, the political parties and the NGOs. So the only space left is the Church.”
She said the government “intends to eradicate the Church completely, so that the prophetic voice of the gospel is not heard by the Nicaraguan people.”
In his article, Jenkins also says that “as the president of a Catholic university, I am especially eager to rally university leaders in opposition to this persecution. But leaders from all walks of life should be condemning Ortega in the harshest terms. His regime should be isolated as an international pariah for trying to ‘disappear’ Catholicism, freedom of worship and free speech.”