Catholic Persecution in Nicaragua


Anna Lucia Arguello, Staff Writer

Imagine you’re on a beach. The wind blows through your hair and seagulls caw as you run along the shore, through blue and endless waves. You find your loved ones sitting nearby drinking lemonade and eating watermelon. You all laugh and play until the sun sets, and the next day you do it all again. I remember many days like this when I visited Nicaragua as a child. I loved going there more than anything. It was familiar and comforting, and it almost felt like home. 

The Nicaraguan people have been wronged by the government for a very long time and have always fought against it fiercely. However, Ortega has set his sights on a rather prominent group amongst them: the Catholic Church. Why? The Church has had ties in politics since 1979, when the first priests took government positions. At first, they worked in total cooperation, but in April Pope John Paul II smelled blood in the water. He called for them to retire and revoked their right to priesthood until they did so. At the same time the archbishop of Managua, Miguel Obando y Bravo, spoke out against the government for the beginning of serious human rights violations. In response, the government attacked prominent pastors, hurting their reputations through fabricated scandals to discredit their words.  

Incidents continued with some regularity until July of 2003, in which Daniel Ortega, not yet a president but still a major political figure, made amends with the Catholic Church. It would have been a nice gesture had hostilities not continued just six years later with Ortega in office. Things really got out of hand in 2018, when police fired on the Divine Mercy in Managua. In 2021 the Blood of Christ, a cherished relic, was burned via firebomb. Earlier this month, the Bishop of Matagalpa, was unrightfully placed under house arrest and has yet to be released.  

The White House Press Secretary, Karine Jeane-Pierre, announced the government’s disdain for the actions taken by Ortega. Pope Francis hopes and prays for a peaceful coexistence between the government and Church. My grandfather worked on one of the cathedrals that was burned down, and my family is as saddened by this loss as they are disappointed in the government’s lack of transparency. I know it seems far away when you hear about it on the news, maybe stirring a pang of pity before moving on with your day. But these issues are real, and they affect real people every single day.