Ortega Seeking to ‘Destroy the Catholic Church in Nicaragua,’ Advocates Tell Congress| National Catholic Register

Archbishop Jerome Lloyd OSJVPosted by

The U.S. Department of State in late November designated Nicaragua a Country of Particular Concern in terms of religious freedom violations perpetrated by or tolerated by the government.

In testimony to a U.S. congressional human rights commission, two prominent human rights experts decried the ongoing repression of the Catholic Church by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and urged additional action by the U.S. to oppose Ortega’s regime.

Ortega’s government has in recent years detained, imprisoned, and likely tortured numerous Catholic leaders, including at least one bishop and several priests. His government has also taken action to repress Catholic radio and television stations, and driven Catholic religious orders, including the Missionaries of Charity, from the country. The regime also expelled Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, the former apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua, from the country, a move the Vatican called “incomprehensible.”

Ortega, who leads Nicaragua’s socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front party, has governed Nicaragua continuously since 2007 along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, who is now the vice president. The regime has variously been accused of corruption, voter fraud, imprisoning critical dissenters and journalists, and committing violent human rights abuses against the people of Nicaragua.

The experts speaking Dec. 15 to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) called on Pope Francis to explicitly condemn Ortega’s actions. In August, Pope Francis called for “peaceful coexistence” between people and institutions in Nicaragua, drawing ire from Ortega.

“Every kind of religion is suffering the repression of this regime,” Bianca Jagger, a Catholic human rights activist, testified to the committee, but in particular, she said, Ortega is seeking to “destroy the Catholic Church in Nicaragua.”

Jagger is a former actress and ex-wife of Mick Jagger. She is also Nicaraguan and said she knows personally many of the Catholics who have been detained in the country.

She spoke most passionately about Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, who has been detained since August and was recently charged with “damaging the Nicaraguan government and society.” The night the bishop was taken into custody, other priests, seminarians, and a layman also were arrested and placed in the El Chipote prison, known for being a place of torture for opponents of the regime.

Ortega Seeking to ‘Destroy the Catholic Church in Nicaragua,’ Advocates Tell Congress| National Catholic Register

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