By Walter Sanchez Silva
In a new attack against the Catholic Church, the dictatorship of President Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua canceled the legal personhood and confiscated the assets of a congregation of women religious.
Members of the Sandinista police “like criminals broke into the house of the Sisters of the Fraternity of the Poor Ones of Jesus Christ at midnight yesterday; they were going to leave the country soon,” tweeted Martha Patrica Molina on July 2.
Molina is a Nicaraguan lawyer and researcher who authored the report “Nicaragua: a Persecuted Church?” which details over 500 attacks against the Church by the regime.
The Nicaraguan media outlet Article 66 reported that the Ministry of the Interior took the measure July 4 and that the sisters were going to leave Nicaragua next week since the authorities had not renewed their residency permit.
The sisters later tweeted that they have gone to El Salvador to continue their mission to serve the needy.
The rationale used for the decision to seize the convent was that the congregation “failed to comply with its obligations” by not reporting its latest financial statements and because the term of its board of directors had expired in February 2021.
The ministry said that it is now the responsibility of the Attorney General’s Office to transfer the assets of the congregation, including the convent, to the state.
“The measure adopted against the sisters is arbitrary, to which they now add the confiscation of their real estate,” Molina lamented.
In a statement to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Molina noted that “the Political Constitution of Nicaragua prohibits confiscation, but it has already become a common practice under the dictatorship, just like in the 1980s.”
The Sisters of the Fraternity of the Poor Ones of Jesus Christ arrived in Nicaragua in 2016 from Brazil, where they were founded by Father Gilson Sobreiro. They are also present in Costa Rica, Guatemala and El Salvador.
This new attack by the Ortega dictatorship against the women religious took place one year after the regime expelled a group of Missionaries of Charity, the congregation founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta,
The sisters were received by the Diocese of Tilarán-Liberia in neighboring Costa Rica.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.