Solidarity and prayer for the Jesuits in Nicaragua

On Tuesday 12 September, at the General Curia and in the presence of the members of Father General’s Extended Council, we had the opportunity to learn about the situation of the Jesuits in Nicaragua.

The Society of Jesus has been repeatedly attacked by the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega, particularly since the mass demonstrations of May 2018: the withdrawal of the budget of the UCA (Central American University) in Managua and police takeover of the campus, the exile of its Rector in Mexico when his passport was not renewed, the closure of two works in 2021, continuous attacks in the government-controlled media. After 10 August, the attacks and expropriations have been even worse.

In the first part of the session, Fr. Jesús Zaglul, Assistant to Father General for Northern Latin America, presented an illustrated historical overview of Nicaragua from 1936, with the start of the 43 years of the Somoza family dictatorship, to the present day. It is a story of armed tensions that led to the hopeful triumph of the Sandinista revolutionary forces, born in 1961 to combat the repression and abuses of the dictatorship, but which did not come to power until 1979.

At first, most Jesuits supported the Sandinista revolution. But later they also denounced the abuses of Daniel Ortega’s regime, which has become increasingly authoritarian, repressive and corrupt.


Fr. Zaglul presented how Daniel Ortega’s aggressions against the Catholic Church and many civil society groups have been growing exponentially since the anti-government mass protests in April and May 2018. Since then the reaction of the security forces has been bloody. To protect the students protesting in the streets from bullets, the Jesuit university opened its campus to them. This was the beginning of a persecution against the Society of Jesus and, in particular, against the UCA. It should be noted that this persecution has not only affected the Society of Jesus. Thousands of NGOs were expelled, including many religious organisations, among them the Missionaries of Charity of Mother Teresa, on the pretext of not having respected the fiscal rules established by the regime or being accused of terrorism.

On 10 August 2023, the government confiscated the university’s accounts and assets; on 15 August, Daniel Ortega and his wife ordered the expropriation of all UCA property and buildings; on 19 August, the police and the judiciary evicted the Jesuits from their residence; on 23 August, the Nicaraguan government annulled the legal status of the Society of Jesus.

After the presentation of this historical picture, the members of Father General’s Council and the Jesuits of the Curia had the opportunity to hear, live from the Provincial Curia of Central America in San Salvador, the Provincial José Domingo Cuesta. He described more precisely how the Jesuits in Nicaragua are currently living this difficult moment in their history. There are currently 11 Jesuits in the country. Some of them, who are very old and in fragile health, have had to leave the country. Other Jesuits previously established in Nicaragua have been prevented by the government from returning, including Father Provincial himself.


Although the UCA has been closed, the Society has other works that continue to function: two schools, a parish and an extensive network of Fe y Alegriaschools. Morale is good; the Jesuits want first and foremost to support the students and teachers who have suffered from the closure of the university. That is why they have greatly appreciated the expressions of solidarity received from many parts of the world. For example, the Hungarian Province, which is a long way from Central America, has offered 100 scholarships to Nicaraguan students in its institutions. Jesuit universities have already taken in students from the UCA, and a solidarity fundraising campaign has been launched to raise funds to pay benefits for teachers and staff who have been placed on forced leave. The campaign also seeks to help students to validate their studies in other institutions.

Unfortunately, the Provincial had to acknowledge that the Church in Nicaragua, like all those living in the country, has been silenced, in an environment that does not tolerate criticism or opposition. The Apostolic Nuncio has been expelled. A bishop, Msgr. Rolando Álvarez, who had been imprisoned and resisted exile, had his sentence increased to 26 years. In the Provincial’s view, the Society of Jesus, as well as those voices in the Church and society that have been outspoken, are paying the price for taking a stand for a more just and democratic society. The Jesuits’ fidelity to human rights has led them today to give an evangelical testimony in a context of persecution. Our brothers are living out this testimony with faith and hope.

At the end of his intervention, Fr. Domingo expressed his gratitude for the prayers and solidarity that are accompanying the crisis situation that our companions, the people and the Church in Nicaragua are experiencing.

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Posted by Communications Office - Editor in Curia Generalizia
Communications Office
The Communications Office of the General Curia publishes news of international scope on the central government of the Society of Jesus and on the commitments of the Jesuits and their partners. It also handles media relations.

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