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A Catholic church in Granada, Nicaragua. Photo: wikicommons.

Dictator Daniel Ortega ramps up attacks on Catholic Church

In a new attack against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, socialist dictator and President Daniel Ortega with his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, have frozen the Church’s retirement fund for priests.

The moves come as part of a larger attack on Christianity in general and the Catholic Church in particular since Ortega returned to power in 2018. Last spring, Ortega outlawed all Easter parades, punishable with prison sentences. Over 550 attacks on churches have been carried out and his Sandinistas have infiltrated every social institution. The last vestige of refuge, the church, is now at risk of collapsing.

The events are outlined in “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?”, which catalogs the more than 500 attacks against the Church in the country since 2018.

“Elderly priests are not receiving their pensions from the national insurance fund for priests, the product of years of contributing, due to the bank accounts of the Catholic Church being blocked,” lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina wrote on Twitter.

“The national insurance fund for priests is an institution that was created more than 20 years ago by the CEN [Nicaraguan Bishops’ Conference] intending a retirement fund for priests. It’s not exactly insurance, because it doesn’t cover health issues or other Social Security issues. It’s intended as a retirement fund,” Molina explained to the Nicaraguan newspaper Confidencial Digital.

The fund receives $150 a year from active priests, parishes, and Church institutions in addition to what is collected on Ash Wednesday.

Molina explained that several retired priests reported that they had been notified that the transfer of the money was blocked. The CEN has not made any statement on this new attack by the Ortega dictatorship.

From the fund a monthly pension of $300 is allocated for priests 75 years of age or older and $150 a month for priests who are between 65 and 74.

“This fund has functioned for more than 20 years without any complications. Among the latest disastrous measures of the dictatorship against the accounts of the Catholic Church, they have disabled this fund, such that elderly priests can’t collect their pensions. This is one of the most dramatic conditions of the current situation,” Molina noted.

In May, the regime ordered the bank accounts of parishes and dioceses in Nicaragua to be frozen and then ordered something similar in June affecting priests.

In another move, the dictatorship recently ordered the confiscation of the assets of the 222 former political prisoners deported to the United States who had already been stripped of their Nicaraguan citizenship.

The newest attacks on the Catholic Church in the formerly democratic nation have united protestants and Catholic groups around the world in opposition. The Biden administration is being pressured to respond more clearly.

–Metro Voice and Catholic News Agency

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