Jesuit condemns attacks in Nicaragua
Fr Kevin O’Higgins SJ, Director of Jesuit University Support & Training (JUST) in Ballymun, Dublin, was interviewed in The Irish Catholic on 11 May 2023 for his views on the violent regime of Daniel Ortega [pictured] in Nicaragua. Fr O’Higgins spent many years as a Jesuit missionary in Paraguay and has kept long-standing friendships with people in Latin America.
According to journalist Chai Brady, the scale of the persecution of Catholics under the regime of Daniel Ortega has been laid bare by a new report chronicling 529 attacks in the last five years alone.
Fr O’Higgins said the report is “vital” in highlighting the crisis and urged Irish Catholics to keep the situation in the public eye. He also said the report could aid future prosecutions of the perpetrators.
Mr Ortega’s dictatorship is accused of 90 attacks this year alone in its crackdown on the Church – more than in any previous year since 2018.
Fr O’Higgins insisted that “it is vital that the names and faces of victims of the persecution should be known”.
“The global Church community beyond Nicaragua’s borders may not be in a position to do much in terms of direct action. But all of us can at least keep these brave fellow believers in our prayers, not as anonymous, faceless statistics, but as unique individuals, with names, faces, families, dreams just like us,” he said.
Fr O’Higgins said people should keep informed about the situation and share it with family and friends, because “a regime like [Daniel] Ortega’s likes to believe that it can persecute its opponents with impunity because the outside world really doesn’t care. By directing people’s attention to what is happening in Nicaragua, we can help to ensure that this is not the case”.
The 232-page report was released in Spanish and contains first-hand accounts of violence against the Church. Named Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?, the report was compiled by lawyer and human rights activist Martha Patricia Molina Montenegro.
In her Zoom presentation made from exile, the researcher exposed the “hostilities, persecution, sieges, desecration, destruction, robbery, expulsions, and confiscations” perpetrated by the dictatorship.
Ms Molina also condemned the “imprisonment of committed religious and lay leaders” of the Church in Nicaragua.