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Faithful struggle as so many priests exiled by Nicaragua regime


LEROY Francis / / / Hemis via AFP

Granada (Nicaragua).

Daniel Esparza - published on 01/29/24

At least 97 priests have been forced to leave Nicaragua since 2018 leaving an already difficult situation much worse.

The Catholic Church in Nicaragua has been decimated by persecution, with 40% of priests in the Diocese of Matagalpa either having passed away or having been forced to flee the country since 2018. This has left many parishes without pastors and has weakened the Church’s ability to serve its flock.

The persecution of the Church is part of a broader crackdown on dissent by the Ortega-Murillo regime.

In recent years, the regime has jailed dozens of priests, bishops, and other religious leaders. It has also seized Church property and restricted the Church’s ability to operate freely.

In declarations to Confidencial, the exiled priest Carlos Adolfo Zeledón Montenegro described the situation as “devastating.” He said that the loss of priests has “weakened pastoral life” and has made it difficult for the Church to provide basic services to its parishioners.

The Mosaico CSI team has verified that at least 97 priests have been forced to leave Nicaragua since 2018. There are also at least 13 priests who have passed away since that year.

This means that the total loss of priests is 110, which is equivalent to 20% of the total clergy registered as of 2020.

The Diocese of Matagalpa has been the hardest hit by the persecution, with 25 of its 60 priests forced to leave. This is almost 42% of the Diocese’s clergy. In addition to the priests who have been forced to flee, there were also four priests who passed away, two who have left the country to study, and one who left the priesthood altogether.

The exile of priests has had a devastating impact on the Church in Nicaragua. The situation is particularly difficult in rural areas, where there are fewer priests to begin with. Many Catholics are feeling disheartened and disillusioned by the situation. They are worried about the future of the Church in Nicaragua and are wondering whether it will ever be able to recover from this persecution.

Latin AmericaNicaraguaPersecution of Christians
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