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OPINION | Daniel Ortega's war against the Catholic Church should stop right now


Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega has persecuted the Catholic Church and violently suppressed democracy in his country.

Pope's response on Nicaragua caused disappointment, says analyst 1:47

Editor's Note:

Andrea Picciotti-Bayer directs the Conscience Project, a Catholic organization that defends religious freedom and the rights of conscience, which protects those who refuse to carry out practices that contravene their religious or personal beliefs.

She is also strategic director of the Institute for Human Ecology at America Catholic University.

The opinions expressed in this column are solely his own.

You can find more opinion pieces at

(CNN Spanish) --

Daniel Ortega is moving Nicaragua in the direction of an authoritarian state.

He has rounded up several political opponents ahead of the most recent disputed presidential election to stay in power.

However, there is one institution that he has not been able to silence: the Catholic Church.

The Ortega government transferred Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who presides over the Diocese of Matagalpa in Nicaragua, to Managua on August 19.

Several police officers entered the episcopal curia and took away the bishop, who was already under house arrest along with several priests and seminarians.

This unforgivable attack is unfortunately not an isolated event.

Another Catholic priest, Father Uriel Vallejos, locked himself up after police raided his parish radio station and besieged his residence for several days.

The station run by Father Vallejos is one of several radio and television stations that have recently been shut down by the government.

  • Who is Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, the visible face of the confrontation between the Catholic Church and the Nicaraguan regime?

Let's not fool ourselves into believing that Ortega is simply trying to maintain public safety.

In March, the Ortega government expelled the sisters of the missionary order founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta.

His exile followed the expulsion of Nicaragua's apostolic nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.

This was what Pope Francis said about the situation in Nicaragua 1:24

The administration of US President Joe Biden has condemned the Ortega regime, but does not fully grasp the nature of the hunt it has orchestrated.

In response to questions about the latest persecution of Catholics in Nicaragua, Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House press secretary, responded: “There has been a drastic deterioration in respect for democratic principles and human rights by the Nicaraguan regime, including the imprisonment of democratic leaders, members of the political opposition, students and journalists.”

Only Brian Nichols, assistant secretary of state for Western Hemisphere affairs, said in early August on his Twitter account that “Ortega-Murillo's brutal assault on Catholic clergy,

to radio facilities and community members in Sébaco is another blow to religious freedom in Nicaragua, as well as freedom of expression.

How can men and women in uniform -- many of them people of faith -- carry out such orders?"


The Bipartisan US Congressional Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), for its part, said that "the Nicaraguan government has continued its pattern of harassment against the Catholic Church," in its most recent update on the country.

In contemporary history, Polish Catholics fought against the Soviet-dominated communist regime in their country.

Among their ranks was Karol Wojtyła, who later became pope and is now Saint John Paul II.

Throughout his pontificate, he promoted the fight for global equality, including in Latin America.

At the same time, the pontiff confronted various liberation theologians who were emerging within the Church itself.

He supported the idea of ​​a socially and politically committed Church, but he did not accept the idea of ​​a partisan Church, that is, one that would take sides with a specific political movement or current (which was promoted by various theologians of the ideology of liberation).

In fact, on his trip to Nicaragua in 1983, Pope John Paul II punished Ernesto Cardenal, a priest and Marxist activist for Liberation Theology, who held a public position as the regime's Minister of Culture, something incompatible with his ministry as Catholic priest.

Cardinal, defiant, was dismissed from his ecclesiastical ministry;

however, he would later be an opponent of the Sandinistas.

Shortly before Cardenal's death in 2020, Pope Francis restored his priestly faculties.

As a sign of Ortega's growing hatred of the Catholic Church, Cardenal's requiem mass was attacked by a Sandinista mob.

The current clergy in Nicaragua have tried to remain politically neutral, despite the brutal attacks on anti-regime protesters.

In 2018, several church leaders tried to mediate a national dialogue between protesters and the Ortega regime.

But this did not come to a good end: the violent demonstrations continued, and there was an attack perpetrated by police and parapolice against the church of La Divina Misericordia, in Managua.

Since then, Catholic leaders in the country have demonstrated against the government.

One of those leaders is the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Monsignor Silvio Báez, who moved to Rome in 2019 and then settled in Miami, after constant harassment by the government and its supporters, which according to Báez himself would have included a assassination plot against him.

During a recent mass in Miami, broadcast through his social networks, Báez denounced the arrest of Bishop Álvarez and others subjected to Ortega's heavy-handed tactics: "we must ask for freedom, we must not negotiate with people, because they are innocent."

Bishop Báez's call is firmly rooted in the teachings of the Second Vatican Council.

In Dignitatis Humanae


in its declaration on religious freedom, the Church claims "freedom for itself, as it is a society of men, who have the right to live in civil society according to the norms of the Christian faith."

Ortega, who in recent years has claimed to have rediscovered his Catholic faith, has persecuted an innocent clergy and violently suppressed democracy.

Source: cnnespanol

All news articles on 2022-09-07

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