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Ortega Banishes Three More Priests From Nicaragua

The religious leaders were in charge of a foundation canceled by the Ministry of the Interior, and whose properties will be confiscated by the dictator

From left to right: priests David Perez, Ezequiel Buenfil, and Jose Maria Figueroa. The three add to the list of expelled priests in 2024.

20 de enero 2024

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Daniel Ortega’s regime has expelled three priests from the order of the Most Holy Savior, belonging to the Diocese of Leon in the western part of the country. The expulsion comes shortly after the expatriation of two bishops, 15 priests, and two seminarians to the Vatican.

The priests are: Father Ezequiel Buenfil, rector of the San Juan Neumann Convent in Nicaragua; Father Jose Miguel Figueroa, parish priest of Our Lady of the Forsaken “El Calvario” church in Viejo, Chinandega; and Father David Perez, from the Immaculate Conception of Mary parish in Leon.


“Since January 14, 2024, the priests belonging to the religious order of the Most Holy Savior received threats from the police when they returned from celebrating Mass at the Santo Tomas Apostol parish in Corinto. Since that day, Fathers Buenfil and Figueroa disappeared and were later expelled,” denounced researcher Martha Patricia Molina on her social media.

The forced exile of these priests occurred shortly after the Ministry of the Interior summarily canceled the legal status of the Missionary Consecrated Foundation of the Most Holy Savior, allegedly for non-compliance with its rules. 

Properties Will Also Be Confiscated

This foundation, with branches in Mexico and Illinois, USA, was established in Nicaragua since 2018 and had missions in Leon, Chinandega, and Esteli. According to the organization’s website, the priests carried out tasks related to priestly preparation, pastoral work, missionary apostolates, and evangelization.

The first to be exiled were priests Buenfil and Figueroa, according to Molina, author of the study “Nicaragua: A Persecuted Church?”

“After the cancellation of the legal status (January 16, 2024) of the foundation they managed, the police expelled Father David Perez, belonging to the same order,” she wrote.

The researcher warned that “with the cancellation of the legal status, two houses owned by the order of these priests in Chinandega are at risk of confiscation.”

Upon the removal of the foundation’s legal status, the Ministry of Interior said the Attorney General’s Office will transfer movable and immovable assets to the name of the State.

The exile of these priests comes after weeks of intense state persecution against the Catholic Church, resulting in the expulsion of 19 priests, including bishops Rolando Alvarez of Matagalpa and Isidoro Mora of Siuna, to the Vatican.

Religious Persecution

The dictatorship has expelled or exiled more than 200 religious individuals from Nicaragua, with 39 of them being incarcerated. The repression has also targeted nuns from various orders, including those of Mother Teresa of Calcutta and Saint Louise de Marillac.

Although the official discourse denies persecution of the Catholic Church, the vice president and spokesperson for the dictatorship, Rosario Murillo, celebrates the exile of priests.

“In Nicaragua, hatred has been exiled… Thank God! It has been exiled, and evil and perversion are far away, where they should be,” she said on January 16, three days after the departure of the 19 priests to Rome.

The CONFIDENCIAL report “Matagalpa has lost 40% of its priests: Catholic Church diminished by persecution,” published on January 19, reveals that repression against the Catholic Church is leaving most parishes in the country without priests. The most affected diocese is Matagalpa, entrusted to Bishop Rolando Alvarez, who was incarcerated and finally exiled.

“The total decrease, with verified data as of January 15, 2024, is 110 priests, equivalent to 20% of the total clergy registered in 2020,” the report cites.

Nicaragua’s diocesan structures are also undermined by the political persecution of the regime. Many parishes are now attended by young, new, and inexperienced priests.

This article was published in Spanish in Confidencial and translated by Havana Times. To get the most relevant news from our English coverage delivered straight to your inbox, subscribe to The Dispatch.

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Redacción Confidencial

Confidencial es un diario digital nicaragüense, de formato multimedia, fundado por Carlos F. Chamorro en junio de 1996. Inició como un semanario impreso y hoy es un medio de referencia regional con información, análisis, entrevistas, perfiles, reportajes e investigaciones sobre Nicaragua, informando desde el exilio por la persecución política de la dictadura de Daniel Ortega y Rosario Murillo.

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