Monastery seized by Nicaraguan government

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What, for lack of a better world, we can call the theft by the Nicaraguan government of proprieties belonging to religious orders has continued recently with the appropriation of the Monastery of Saint Mary of Peace of the Trappist Nuns in San Pedro de Lóvago, Chontales. It has been appropriated by the government and allocated to the Instituto Nicaraguans de Tecnología Agropecuaria (INTA).

Unlike other religious orders, the Trappist nuns were not expelled but left Nicaragua voluntarily in February and relocated in Panama. They did so after they were told that their valuable property in San Pedro de Lóvago could be legally transferred to the Catholic Diocese of Juigalpa.

However, when the Bishop of Juigalpa, Marcial Guzmán Saballos, tried to take possession of the monastery, he was prevented to do so by the authorities, who told him that it had been confiscated by the government.

Trappist nuns from the monastery of San Pedro de Lóvago in 2020. From Facebook.
Trappist nuns from the monastery of San Pedro de Lóvago in 2020. From Facebook.

The confiscation of properties is one of several tools the Nicaraguan regime uses to harass the Catholic Church and other religious organizations, a persecution repeatedly denounced by Bitter Winter and described in detail in an August 2022 report by the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), an independent, bipartisan U.S. federal government commission created by the 1998 International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA), whose Commissioners are appointed by the President and by Congressional leaders of both political parties.

In February, the Catholic Bishop of Matagalpa, Rolando José Álvarez, an outspoken critic of the regime, was sentenced to 26 years in jail, for “treason, undermining national integrity, and spreading false news.”

Bishop Álvarez, right, in jail uniform, visited by relatives in prison. From Twitter. The image was posted on social media on March 26 by the authorities to prove the Bishop was alive.
Bishop Álvarez, right, in jail uniform, visited by relatives in prison. From Twitter. The image was posted on social media on March 26 by the authorities to prove the Bishop was alive.

Pope Francis and Latin American Bishops denounced the sentencing of Álvarez as a blatant violation of religious liberty by a regime whose totalitarian nature should now be obvious to everybody. — Bitter Winter

Massimo Introvigne

Massimo Introvigne (born June 14, 1955 in Rome) is an Italian sociologist of religions. He is the founder and managing director of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), an international network of scholars who study new religious movements. Introvigne is the author of some 70 books and more than 100 articles in the field of sociology of religion. He was the main author of the Enciclopedia delle religioni in Italia (Encyclopedia of Religions in Italy). He is a member of the editorial board for the Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on Religion and of the executive board of University of California Press’ Nova Religio.  From January 5 to December 31, 2011, he has served as the “Representative on combating racism, xenophobia and discrimination, with a special focus on discrimination against Christians and members of other religions” of the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE). From 2012 to 2015 he served as chairperson of the Observatory of Religious Liberty, instituted by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs in order to monitor problems of religious liberty on a worldwide scale.