Dictatorship in Nicaragua expels three priests; exiled bishop meets with Pope Francis

Missionaries of the Most Holy Savior Credit: Consecrated Missionaries of the Most Holy Savior

Researcher Martha Patricia Molina reported that the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, has expelled from Nicaragua three priests from the same congregation after previously canceling the congregation’s legal personhood. Two of the priests are Mexican.

The author of the report “Nicaragua: A persecuted Church?”, which details hundreds of attacks by the dictatorship against the Catholic Church in recent years, had already reported the abduction and expulsion of the Mexican priest Ezequiel Buenfil, a member of the Missionaries of the Most Holy Savior Congregation.

In a Jan. 20 post on X, Molina said that “beginning Jan. 14, the priests belonging to the Most Holy Savior religious order of the Diocese of León  received threats from the police when they were returning from celebrating Holy Mass in the St. Thomas the Apostle Parish in Corinto. Since that day Father Ezequiel Buenfil and Father Erick Figueroa disappeared and were then expelled.”

They were in charge of the Calvary-Our Lady of the Abandoned Parish in the town of El Viejo in Chinandega Department.

On Jan. 16, the Ministry of the Interior published in the official government newspaper La Gaceta the agreement that ordered the cancellation of the legal personhood and registration of 16 nongovernmental organizations, 10 of which are Catholic and evangelical institutions. This group included the Consecrated Missionaries of the Most Holy Savior Foundation and the Missionaries of the Company of Mary Association (Montfort Missionaries).

Next, Molina continued, the dictatorship expelled Father David Pérez, also of the Consecrated Missionaries of the Most Holy Savior, who “was in charge of Immaculate Conception of Mary Parish in the William Fonseca neighborhood of the city of León.”

“With the cancellation of legal personhood, two houses belonging to the order of these religious people are in danger of confiscation,” Molina warned.

According to their website, the Consecrated Missionaries of the Most Holy Savior are “a public and clerical association of the faithful with a view to becoming an Institute of Consecrated Life,” who lead “a contemplative-missionary life.”

They are present in “the Diocese of Iztapalapa (Mexico City), the Diocese of Cancún-Chetumal (Quintana Roo state, Mexico), in the Diocese of Estelí (Nicaragua), and in the Diocese of León-Chinandega (Nicaragua).”

The abduction and expulsion of the three priests occurs less than a week after the dictatorship released from custody and deported to Rome two bishops, 15 priests, and two seminarians, including Bishop Rolando Álvarez, who was unjustly imprisoned for 500 days.

On Jan. 20, the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio José Báez, met with Pope Francis at the Vatican. Due to threats from the Ortega regime, Báez has been living since 2019 in exile in Miami, where he usually celebrates Sunday Mass at St. Agatha Parish.

The bishop posted on X Jan. 20 that “Pope Francis invited me to visit him and received me today at the Vatican. I appreciate his brotherly affection and his wise words.”

“He confirmed me as auxiliary bishop of Managua and expressed to me his interest and love for Nicaragua. We have decided to meet several more times this year,” he added.

At the close of the Jan. 14 Sunday Mass at St. Agatha’s, Báez announced the release and deportation of the clergy and seminarians and said that “the criminal Sandinista dictatorship of Daniel Ortega has not been able to defeat the power of God” and that all of the deportees “were innocent.”

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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