Nicaragua Escalates Crackdown on Catholic Church

( – Human rights advocates and exiled priests warn that the situation for Catholics in Nicaragua has worsened as fears that the ongoing crackdown against the Roman Catholic Church has become so pervasive that it is silencing critics of the government, the Associated Press reported.

Nicaraguan attorney Martha Patricia Molina, who fled the Central American country for the United States, told the Associated Press that opponents of President Daniel Ortega’s government have grown fearful of speaking out about the crackdown not just against Catholics but evangelical Christians as well.

Molina, who has recorded hundreds of examples of church persecution, said it has become “exceedingly” dangerous to even report on attacks against the faithful. She said many Nicaraguan priests are fearful that if they report the attacks, there might be reprisals on communities.

An unnamed Nicaraguan priest exiled from the country told the Associated Press that surveillance in Nicaragua has become so “brutal” that people fear saying anything against the Ortega government.

He said the laypeople remain silent out of fear that if the government would target priests, it might do worse to them.

President Ortega and Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is also Ortega’s wife, have accused “terrorist” Catholic clergy of supporting the civil unrest in the country that began over five years ago.

The exiled priest, who spoke to the Associated Press anonymously out of fear of reprisals, said he was banned from Nicaragua after providing first aid and shelter to protesters who were injured during the massive 2018 civic protests

Human rights groups and Catholic clergy believe that the Ortega government is seeking to crush the church because it remains one of the few entities in Nicaragua that is willing to oppose the government crackdowns that have targeted not just the clergy but college students, minority populations, and small businesses.

Many of the exiled faithful fear that without vocal protests from the Vatican and foreign governments, the remnants of the Catholic church that remain in Nicaragua will be cowed into silence by the Ortega government.

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