Christian Persecution: Ortega Regime Thugs Kidnap Two More Catholic Priests

FILE - Nicaragua's President Daniel Ortega and his wife, Vice President Rosario Murillo, l
AP Photo/Alfredo Zuniga, File

The communist regime of dictator Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua kidnapped Catholic priests Julio Ricardo Norori and Iván Centeno on Sunday, local media reported, the latest act in a wave of relentless persecution against Christianity in the country.

Ortega regime plain-clothes state security forces reportedly abducted Norori and Centeno, both priests from the Diocese of Estelí, on Sunday while they were in their respective churches.

Norori is a priest of the Saint John the Evangelist parish in San Juan del Río Coco, while Centeno is a priest of the Immaculate Conception of Mary parish located in Jalapa. The two priests are the eighth and ninth members of the Nicaraguan Catholic Church currently imprisoned in the country.

An unnamed source told the Nicaraguan newspaper La Prensa that they do not know the current whereabouts of the two priests but they “believe they were taken to Managua,” Nicaragua’s capital city.

Similarly, Nicaraguan newspaper Confidencial reported that the motives behind the arrest of the two priests remain unknown.

Police officers and riot police patrol outside Matagalpa's Archbishop Curia preventing Monsignor Rolando Alvarez from leaving, in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, on August 4, 2022. - Riot police on Thursday prevented Nicaraguan Bishop, Rolando Alvarez, from leaving the church building to preside at a mass as part of a "prayer crusade" being carried out by the church, following the closure of several Catholic media outlets and allegations of harassment. (Photo by AFP) (Photo by STR/AFP via Getty Images)

Police officers and riot police patrol outside Matagalpa’s Archbishop Curia preventing Monsignor Rolando Alvarez from leaving, in Matagalpa, Nicaragua, on August 4, 2022. (STR/AFP via Getty Images)

The Diocese of Estelí was under the Apostolic administration of the bishop of the Diocese of Matagalpa Monsignor Rolando Álvarez until his arrest in August 2022. The Ortega regime, which initially accused Álvarez of “sins against spirituality,” sentenced Álvarez to 26 years in prison for “treason” in February, stripping the bishop of his Nicaraguan citizenship and rendering him a stateless person.

Initially, reports surfaced indicating that a third priest, Erick Ramírez Velásquez from the Cristo Rey de Telpaneca church, had also been abducted. The Cristo Rey Telpaneca informed via its official Facebook page late Sunday evening that Ramírez was in “perfect condition” in the parish.

Nicaraguan dictator Ortega, who himself claims to be Catholic, declared a “war” against the Vatican in September 2022. Ortega’s declaration of “war” against the Vatican marked a new chapter of the Sandinista regime’s ongoing four decades of fierce animosity

In 2018, Ortega began to retaliate against the Catholic Church after the Church provided support and a mediation role in the April 2018 protests calling for the end of the communist regime’s rule. Since then, pro-regime sympathizers have repeatedly stormed Catholic churches in Nicaragua, interrupting Mass and attacking citizens.

Ortega has repeatedly branded Catholic bishops “terrorists” and, in September 2022, accused the Church of “covering up a gang of assassins” that, according to him, tried to assassinate him and stage a coup during the 2018 protests. Ortega has not provided evidence of his allegations at press time.

The Nicaraguan dictator has dramatically ramped up Christian persecution in Nicaragua since 2022, starting with the banishment of the papal nuncio, Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag.

Since then, the Ortega regime sentenced four priests to ten years in prison on “fake news” charges in February, expelled other priests and nuns, froze all of the Nicaraguan Catholic Church’s bank accounts, and shut down Catholic media nationwide. Ortega also outlawed the Jesuit religious order, seizing all of its assets including the Jesuit-run Central American University (UCA) in Managua, and has banned several traditional Catholic processions, including some of Nicaragua’s unique Catholic festivities such as the festivities of Saint Michael and Saint Jerome in September and La Purisima and La Griteria, two celebrations that honor the Blessed Mother Mary.

The Immaculate Conception of Mary parish asked its faithful on Sunday evening to pray for the parish and the abducted priests.

Christian K. Caruzo is a Venezuelan writer and documents life under socialism. You can follow him on Twitter here.


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