Nicaragua’s Ortega versus the Catholic Church

March 30, 2023

RFI research assistant Erica Lizza co-authored an article with Sam Brownback, former U.S. Ambassador at Large for International Religious Freedom, titled, “Nicaragua’s Ortega versus the Catholic Church.” Published this week by Univision, the article details President Daniel Ortega’s ongoing policy of repression against Catholic Church. Lizza and Brownback write:

Catholic clergy in Nicaragua have repeatedly denounced the government’s violent suppression of protests that began in 2018 and called for democratic reforms in the aftermath of fraudulent general elections in 2021.

In response, five-term President Daniel Ortega’s government has become increasingly hostile to the Catholic Church, detaining and prosecuting members of the clergy, while forcing other priests and Catholic organizations into exile.

The regime has intensified its banning of Lenten religious processions, namely the Stations of the Cross. Why ban a Lenten Catholic devotion, especially one so traditionally popular in Latin America?

Because in Nicaragua, the Catholic Church presents the only alternative source of authority to the Ortega regime. Nicaragua’s Catholic population accounts for about half of the 80 percent of Nicaraguans who are Christians. The Church also constitutes a significant portion of Nicaraguan civil society with its associated social service institutions, such as schools, nursing homes, and poverty relief programs.

The regime has imprisoned, deported, and revoked the citizenship of political opponents and journalists. The Catholic Church is the largest non-governmental institution left standing in Nicaragua. As President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have attempted to consolidate control, religious voices, primarily members of the Catholic clergy, have provided a consistent challenge to the Ortega regime’s violent oppression and violation of human rights.

Read the full article: “Nicaragua’s Ortega versus the Catholic Church.”