Exiled Nicaraguans: Dissolving university that trained seminarians was ‘hostile action’

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Nicaraguan Catholics living in exile dedicated to the defense of human rights charged that the supposed “voluntary dissolution” of Immaculate Conception Catholic University, which trained seminarians in Managua, is “one more hostile action” of the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, against the Catholic Church.

On May 18, the Nicaraguan Ministry of the Interior (Migob) announced the “voluntary dissolution” of the university run by the Archdiocese of Managua where seminarians from the Nicaraguan capital were trained.

In the attempt to justify the dissolution, the Ortega and Murillo regime accused the Catholic institution of the alleged “failure to comply with its obligations since 2015, since they did not report their financial statements and board of directors.”

In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Martha Patricia Molina, a Nicaraguan lawyer and investigator in exile who has documented more than 500 attacks against the Catholic Church under the Ortega-Murillo regime, explained that “the Immaculate Conception Catholic University is owned by the Archdiocese of Managua. It is the academic institution in charge of certifying the degrees awarded by the La Purísima Archdiocesan Seminary.”

The “voluntary dissolution” classification, she explained, “is just a facade used by the Sandinista dictatorship. In this specific case we have before us an obligatory dissolution, by force.”

Molina is one of the most recognized investigators into the persecution suffered by the Church in Nicaragua. On May 15, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken cited the numbers on violence against Catholics under the Nicaraguan dictatorship compiled in her reports.

For Molina, the closure of the university “is yet another outrage, not only in the academic field, but also in the religious sphere. It is one more hostile action towards the Catholic Church.”

Félix Maradiaga, a former political prisoner and former presidential candidate in Nicaragua, told EWTN News that “there is no justification from a legal point of view, neither in the laws of Nicaragua nor in the Political Constitution” for the closure of the Catholic university.

“We know from internal sources that we have within Nicaragua that this has not been a voluntary closure,” he added, noting similar cases in other Catholic institutions in the country.

For Maradiaga it’s important “that the world know what is happening,” stressing that “the persecution of the Church within Nicaragua is a persecution and an attack on the universal Church, and that must be made known globally.”

From exile in the United States, Maradiaga pointed out that Ortega’s hatred against Catholics can only be explained by the “pastoral role that the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has assumed in the face of injustice, in the face of crimes against humanity that it has reported and the Organization of American States has denounced, which the U.N. special report has denounced in [the] face of the persecution of innocent people, the expulsion of university students, [and] election fraud.”

“The Catholic Church has taken up, as it has done throughout history, its position on the side of the weak and the persecuted,” he stressed.

“This is the reason for the hatred that the Ortega dictatorship has had towards the Catholic Church and particularly towards those pastors who have been a voice of nonviolence in the face of this injustice,” he said.

In early April, Maradiaga launched a global prayer campaign for the release of Bishop Rolando Álvarez of Matagalpa, who was unjustly sentenced by the dictatorship to 26 years and four months in prison, charged with being a “traitor to the homeland.”

According to Molina’s most recent report, in the last five years the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has suffered more than 500 attacks, which include “hostilities, persecution, sieges, desecration, destruction, robbery, expulsions, [and] confiscations.”

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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