In 5 years the Church in Nicaragua has suffered more than 500 attacks, 90 in 2023 alone

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Researcher and lawyer Martha Patricia Molina on May 3 presented the third installment of her report “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?”

The document gives an account of the at least 529 attacks perpetrated by the Daniel Ortega dictatorship in the last five years with 90 committed so far in 2023.

In her Zoom presentation made from exile, the researcher exposed the “hostilities, persecution, sieges, desecration, destruction, robbery, expulsions, and confiscations” perpetrated by the dictatorship.

Molina also condemned the “imprisonment of committed religious and lay leaders” of the Church in Nicaragua.

“In this work, I propose to systematize in order to show and contribute to the political, cultural, and social history of Nicaragua facing future and current upcoming generations so as to not forget the events and decisions” of the parties involved and for the purpose of “turning the study into a collection of human lessons and social and political experiences so that we don’t repeat the present mistakes,” Molina explained in the document.

The report details that in 2018 the Catholic Church in Nicaragua suffered 84 attacks, 80 in 2019, 59 in 2020, 55 in 2021, 161 in 2022 — the highest number in the last five years — and 90 in just the first four months of this year.

The attacks by the dictatorship include unjustly sentencing Bishop Rolando Álvarez to 26 years and four months in prison, expelling 32 religious from the country, confiscating seven Church-owned buildings, and shutting down various media.

Molina, who holds a master’s degree in corruption and rule of law, explained that “this report outlines a meticulous study of each hostile action carried out” and that all of the data has been verified.

The purpose of this report “is to show in concrete figures the attacks and onslaughts suffered by the Catholic Church in Nicaragua,” the specialist said.

The report is divided into four chapters that present the hostilities against the Catholic Church from April 2018 to so far in 2023. The attacks include the prohibition of 176 processions during last Holy Week; the systematization of hostilities; and a chronology of desecrations, sacrileges, assaults, robberies, and attacks against the Church.

“It’s important to highlight the work of the laity to support their Church under attack, following up on each incident of damage done to the churches, the attacks on priests and nuns, and day-to-day occurrences in their parishes,” the expert stressed.

“Despite this, we can’t deny that there is an underreporting of data that occurs because there is little or no reporting by the religious authorities” as well as a “growing fear and prudence on the part of the laity or members of religious groups in documenting hostile acts.”

This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.

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