Nicaraguan authorities have just banned the entire Society of Jesus from the country and ordered the confiscation of all its assets, claiming they failed to comply with tax reporting.
After shutting down the Central American University(a Jesuit, private university founded in 1960), expelling the community of Jesuit priests from their private residence close to the university in Managua, and confiscating the university’s assets on Wednesday, August 23,Nicaraguan authoritieshave just banned the entire Society of Jesus from the country and ordered the confiscation of all its assets, claiming they failed to comply with tax reporting.
Daniel Ortega’s silencing of dissenting voices in Nicaragua has targeted the Catholic Church systematically for at least five years now.
The Society of Jesus is not the first religious order banned from Nicaragua. Last year, the Missionaries of Charity were expelled from the country. Ortega’s regime alleged that the missionaries are not accredited “by the Ministry for the Family to function as a nursery-center for childhood development, home for girls, and home for the elderly,” nor “do they have an operating permit from the Ministry of Education to provide remedial education for students” and that their “financial statements reported to the Ministry of the Interior don’t agree” with other documents presented for review. It is, indeed, the same bureaucratic, pseudo-legal M.O.
From November 2018 to date, the Ortega dictatorship has expropriated the goods and assets of some 3,321 NGOs.A Trappist monastery, for example, is now owned by the Nicaraguan Institute of Agricultural Technology (INTA), according to information the Trappist sisters provided local media.
A report made by Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro, a member of the Observatorio Pro Transparencia y Anticorrupción called Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church? (2018-2022), shows the Catholic Church has been systematically targeted by Ortega’s regime, which has unleashed an “indiscriminate persecution against bishops, priests, seminarians, religious, lay groups and everything and everyone who has a direct or indirect relationship with the Catholic Church.”
The report focuses on the social-political crisis that broke out in April 2018 in Nicaragua.
Then, demonstrators took to the streets to protest a series of reforms the Ortega regime implemented in the social security system, increasing taxes and decreasing benefits. The government responded violently to these demonstrations, leaving at least 355 dead, according to the report.
Montenegro explains that, before that April, abuses against the Church were sporadic. But after the demonstrations, hostilities increased.
The Jesuit university was a hub for demonstrations against President Daniel Ortega’s controversial reform of the national social security system in 2018. Last August 16, the regime announced that the university’s assets had been confiscated by Nicaraguan authorities, on grounds of being a “center of terrorism.”
A note published by Vatican News explains that the university “slammed the accusation as totally ‘unfounded’ and called the seizure a blow to academia in Nicaragua.”
The Superior General of the Jesuits, Father Arturo Sosa, SJ, joined the Central American Province of the Society of Jesus in condemning, in the strongest terms, the closure of the university.