St. Louis, Mo., Dec 15, 2022 / 15:45 pm
In testimony to a U.S. congressional human rights commission, two prominent human rights experts decried the ongoing repression of the Catholic Church by Nicaraguan president Daniel Ortega and urged additional action by the U.S. to oppose Ortega’s regime.
Ortega’s government has in recent years detained, imprisoned, and likely tortured numerous Catholic leaders, including at least one bishop and several priests. His government has also taken action to repress Catholic radio and television stations, and driven Catholic religious orders, including the Missionaries of Charity, from the country. The regime also expelled Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, the former apostolic nuncio in Nicaragua, from the country, a move the Vatican called “incomprehensible.”
Ortega, who leads Nicaragua’s socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front party, has governed Nicaragua continuously since 2007 along with his wife, Rosario Murillo, who is now the vice president. The regime has variously been accused of corruption, voter fraud, imprisoning critical dissenters and journalists, and committing violent human rights abuses against the people of Nicaragua.
The experts speaking Dec. 15 to the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission (TLHRC) called on Pope Francis to explicitly condemn Ortega’s actions. In August, Pope Francis called for “peaceful coexistence” between people and institutions in Nicaragua, drawing ire from Ortega.