The Nicaraguan Ministry of Interior ordered on Wednesday the cancellation of the legal status of the Jesuit religious community, a Catholic congregation, and confiscation of all its property for failure to report its financial statements during the fiscal periods 2020, 2021 and 2022. The ministry also cited the Jesuit’s alleged failure to timely update the information of its board of directors as a reason for the cancellation.
According to the Ministry of Interior’s statement, the Jesuit religious community has breached its obligations under Articles 34 and 35 of the General Law of Regulation and Control of Non-profit Organizations of Nicaragua, namely, the obligations to:
- submit financial statements with detailed breakdowns of income, expenses, balance sheet, details of donations, such as source of income, final destination and source of funds, etc.;
- submit accounting balances with tax declaration;
- report the projects to be developed prior to their execution;
- verify and document the identity and the good reputation of donors;
- update all information, documents or acts subject to registration promptly, and etc.
Based on the above violations, the ministry approved the cancellation of the Jesuit’s legal status and the transfer of all of its movable and immovable property to the state of Nicaragua.
The action against the Jesuit religious community is the second move within a week taken by President Daniel Ortega’s administration against Catholic churches in Nicaragua, following the government’s confiscation of the Jesuit-run University of Central America on August 16. Ortega’s administration continues to take actions against religious organizations including the closure and confiscation of property against Catholic institutions and arresting Catholic priests. The protests began in 2018 after Ortega’s administration proposed changes to the country’s pension system, and eventually evolved into a massive anti-governmental movement, backed by Catholics leaders in Nicaragua, among others.
The actions targeting Catholic organizations has been condemned by a resolution of the Organization of American States (OAS). On Wednesday, the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the US also condemned the move by the Nicaraguan government as “unjustified aggression.”