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Nicaraguan President Daniel OrtegaYouTube/Screenshot

(LifeSiteNews) — In a fresh strike against the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, the nation’s communist dictator Daniel Ortega has ordered that the bank accounts of several Catholic priests and dioceses be frozen. The move marks yet another act in a long history of persecution against the Catholic Church. 

Nicaraguan lawyer and researcher Martha Patricia Molina said of the bank freeze, “This is one more arbitrary action of the dictatorship against the Nicaraguan Catholic Church… It’s something that is going to be common for more priests and even laypeople.” 

Molina explained that since the accounts were suspended, the Nicaraguan police have begun investigating the priests for alleged money laundering, a charge the dictatorship has speciously leveled against the Catholic Church while freezing the bank accounts of several dioceses, schools, religious communities, and parishes.  

“Although they were not charged at the time their accounts were frozen, the priests are being investigated and possibly in the future they will be charged with the crime of money laundering, which is what the police are investigating at this time,” Molina said. 

The attempt to cripple the Catholic Church financially escalated quickly at the end of May when the government froze all the accounts of the Diocese of Estelí, managed by Bishop Rolando Álvarez Lagos of Matagalpa, who was condemned to 26 years in prison on trumped up charges of being “a traitor to the country” for the alleged crimes of “undermining national security and sovereignty, spreading fake news through information technology, obstructing an official in the performance of his duties,” and “aggravated disobedience or contempt of authority.”  

Reportedly, Ortega “took advantage of Alvarez’s link to extend the order to freeze bank accounts to the Diocese of Matagalpa.” From there, “the freeze was extended to the Archdiocese of Managua, and then to the national level, while the Government has not said what the cause is or what it is investigating,” according to the Havanna Times. 

The Nicaraguan National Police published a statement on May 27 accusing the Catholic Church of money laundering and other crimes, which human rights advocates have said have no basis.

READ: Ortega escalates crackdown on Catholic Church in Nicaragua with clergy, laymen sentenced to prison 

Nicaragua’s persecution of the Catholic Church and its own citizens has become so intense that the U.N.-established Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua (GHREN) declared that the country’s government has committed and continues to commit “crimes against humanity” by perpetrating acts of torture, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention, deportation, rape, sexual violence, and suppression of political, social, and religious freedoms. 

In testimony offered in a congressional hearing in the U.S in March, Sebastian Chamorro a former presidential candidate in Nicaragua who was kidnapped by police at his house during the night in front of his wife and daughter and who shared prison with Bishop Alvarez said that Ortega’s regime was intent on silencing the Catholic Church because it was a voice for justice against his crimes and oppression. 

READ: UN Human Rights group declares Daniel Ortega has committed ‘crimes against humanity’ in Nicaragua 

“Why Ortega’s war against the Church?” Chamorro asked. “The reason is simple. After putting all the opposition in jail, repressing all forms of protests, the dictator had to deal with the last standing voice defending freedom, peace, and human dignity. Ortega had to silence the voice of the Church in order to impose his message of hate and violence.” 

LifeSiteNews’ extensive coverage of the Ortega regime’s persecution of its citizens and the Catholic Church can be found here.