The Catholic Church in Nicaragua is under assault, and it’s getting worse.
On Monday, Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL) issued a furious tweet in which he condemned Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega and his government for their persecution of clergymen in their country:
As The New York Times noted, the recent crisis in Nicaragua, which was triggered by protests against a tax increase, has claimed more than 300 lives. At the beginning, Ortega was conciliatory with the Catholic Church, asking bishops to act as mediators in talks with the rebelling students, business associations and farmers’ organizations. But later Ortega unleashed his followers to attack priests and churches.
Juan Sebastián Chamorro, a member of the opposition alliance, stated that Ortega’s government “has declared war on the church.” Managua’s auxiliary bishop, Msgr. Silvio José Báez, who has become the leader of the opposition, told the Times, “What there is here is an armed state against an unarmed people. … One thing that has to be clear is that being the mediators of a dialogue does not make us neutral before injustice, before human rights violations, before the death of innocents.”
In recent days, masked paramilitaries have been targeting rebellious towns south of Managua. Last Thursday, Ortega denounced the church, accusing them of hiding arms for the rebels. He said, “I thought they were mediators, but no. They were committed to the coup-plotters, they were part of the plan with the coup-plotters.” Roughly two weeks ago, Ortega ripped “those who curse us and condemn us to death in the name of religious institutions.”
Last week, according to The Wall Street Journal, hundreds of elite police and paramilitary forces stormed a parish with a fusillade of bullets. One priest stated tearfully, “They are defiling the churches. The government is killing us.” The Journal noted, “Clergy have been assaulted and at least 10 churches have been attacked, shot at, looted or defiled during the last three months, mostly by government-allied paramilitary groups, clerics said.”
On July 13, paramilitaries opened fire on the parish house and Church of Divine Mercy in Managua; two people were killed and 10 wounded.