The Catholic Church in Nicaragua is suffering. A bishop has been imprisoned, the Jesuit university closed, religious women expelled, charities closed, and seminaries dissolved. The Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) has served the people and Church of Nicaragua since the 1500s. Jesuits have stood with the people of Nicaragua in countless ways, offering education, fighting injustice, working for democracy, respecting human rights, and seeking peace.
In the last few years, the Ortega-Murillo government has forced thousands of Nicaraguans into exile, with others leaving the country due to their inability to live a free, dignified life. Many have been threatened and attacked for their opposition to the current government. Many others have suffered from gripping poverty that led them to leave the country. In August 2023, the government expelled the Jesuits from the Universidad Centroamericana (UCA), closed the university in Managua, and seized properties and assets belonging to Jesuits and several other Catholic religious orders. Catholic leaders have been forced into exile, and Bishop Rolando Alvarez was imprisoned for his opposition to the government. The actions of the Ortega-Murillo regime threaten basic rights such as religious freedom and freedom of expression, as well as economic and political stability in Nicaragua and the broader Central American region. Civil society groups and individuals critical of the government have faced threats, censorship, and various forms of retaliation. Police forces have cracked down violently on protestors critical of the government, and hundreds have died as a result.
Four leaders with experience and expertise in these issues discussed the challenges presented by the situation in Nicaragua, the attacks on the Church and the Society of Jesus, and how Catholics can use the principles of Catholic social teaching to advance justice, peace, religious freedom, and solidarity.
Kim Daniels, director of the Initiative and member of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication, moderated the dialogue.
Photo © JEMP
Georgetown’s Dahlgren Dialogues, co-sponsored by the Office of Mission & Ministry and the Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life, are a series of substantive conversations with experienced leaders in the context of prayerful reflection on current topics at the intersection of faith and public life.
View articles, statements, and other resources for this dialogue.