Human rights defender Bianca Jagger has accused the Nicaraguan dictatorship of creating a spiritual vacuum in the country by its purge of Catholic clergy. Source: OSV News.
Ms Jagger said the January 14 expulsion of two bishops, 15 priests and two seminarians to the Vatican was part of a campaign by President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, to crush all political resistance in the country.
Ms Jagger said a total of 203 priests and seminarians have been exiled since mass protests against the government in April 2018.
The expulsions included eight clergy in a group of 222 prisoners of conscience released and forcibly exiled to the United States in February 2023.
“I was informed that a plane had left Nicaragua with members of the clergy who had been abducted and were on the flight to Rome,” she said of the recent release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa.
“I was holding my breath. I had contradictory feelings. On the one hand I was overjoyed that he was out of the jaws of the Ortega-Murillo criminal regime because I was so deeply concerned for his life but I was also saddened by his departure,” she told OSV News.
She emphasised that “a vacuum has been left in Nicaragua, if you think about the numbers of bishops, priests, seminarians and sisters who have been expelled, exiled, stripped of their nationality or not allowed back into the country”.
“The witch hunt continues unabated in Nicaragua,” she continued, adding that she feared the strategy of the regime was to get rid of all critical voices in the Church until there was no opposition and no one to champion the victims of oppression.
Since Ms Jagger spoke out on January 19, three more priests have been exiled by the regime.
Purging clergy from Nicaragua creates a startling spiritual vacuum (By Simon Caldwell, OSV News)