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Nicaragua further cracks down on Church, shuts down organizations

COSTA RICA - NICARAGUA - RELIGON - CHURCH - RIGTHS - ARREST

Photo by Oscar Navarrete / AFP

Daniel Esparza - published on 02/29/24

The Ministry of the Interior, controlled by President Daniel Ortega’s government, justified the action by citing “financial irregularities” in the organizations’ paperwork.

Ten organizations in Nicaragua, including universities, religious groups, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs), were dissolved by the government on Tuesday. This latest move is part of an ongoing crackdown targeting independent entities in the country.

The Ministry of the Interior, controlled by President Daniel Ortega’s government, justified the action by citing “financial irregularities” in the organizations’ paperwork, as reported by Vatican News.

The groups targeted include a Catholic foundation, raising further concerns about ongoing tensions between the government and the Church.

This comes amidst a larger context of restrictions on civil society. Since 2018, more than 3,500 entities, including political parties and NGOs, have been shut down by the Nicaraguan government.

Catholic Church decimated by persecution

The latest measures particularly impact the Catholic Church, already grappling with the effects of previous crackdowns. For example, according to reports, nearly 40% of priests in the Matagalpa Diocese have either passed away or fled the country since 2018. This has left many communities without religious leaders and significantly hindered the Church’s ability to serve its members.

Exiled Nicaraguan priest Carlos Adolfo Zeledón Montenegro described the situation as “devastating,” highlighting the difficulties faced by communities due to the lack of clergy. He added that the Church’s capacity to provide basic services has been significantly weakened.

Reports indicate that at least 97 priests have been forced to leave Nicaragua since 2018, with an additional 13 passing away in the same period. This amounts to a total loss of 110 priests, representing approximately 20% of the clergy registered in 2020.

This latest move by the Nicaraguan government further raises concerns about the state of civil society and religious freedom in the country.

Tags:
NicaraguaPersecution of ChristiansPriest
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