Vatican closes embassy in Nicaragua in succession with Ortega – DW – 18/03/2023

The Vatican has closed its diplomatic mission in Nicaragua, the Vatican News portal reported on Saturday, amid a dispute between the Catholic Church and the Central American country.

Bilateral relations deteriorated further last week when Pope Francis referred to Socialist President Daniel Ortega’s government as a dictatorship in an interview.

The portal reported that the Vatican diplomat, Monsignor Marcel Diouf, had traveled to Costa Rica on Friday.

For years, Ortega’s government has targeted the Catholic Church after some church leaders sheltered anti-government protesters on their properties.

The reaction was caused by Nicaraguan authorities’ violent crackdown on anti-government protesters since 2018, when many members of the opposition were killed

In addition to banning opposition demonstrations, Ortega has banned the traditional street parades that take place before Holy Week and Easter.

The church has also tried to mediate between the government and the political opposition.

Ortega: Catholic leaders are ‘terrorists’

Ortega has branded church representatives as terrorists who seek to overthrow him, prompting dozens of priests to flee abroad to avoid arrest.

Two congregations of nuns were expelled last year.

One bishop, Rolando Alvarez, was sentenced to 26 years in prison in February on charges of disobedience, undermining national integrity and other crimes.

Alvarez refused to board the plane that flew 222 dissidents and priests into exile in the United States. He was also denied Nicaraguan citizenship.

Francis speaks after months of silence

Francis has largely stayed away, but last week he referred to Ortega’s government as a “rude dictatorship” comparable to Hitler, led by an “unbalanced” president. The Pope responded to Alcarez’s sentence.

As a reaction, the government proposed severing relations with the Holy See.

Last year, it forced the then papal ambassador to leave the country.

It is not clear what else the closure would mean diplomatically.

According to Vatican News, the embassy has been entrusted to the Italian government.

The United States and the European Union have imposed several sanctions on Ortega and his relatives due to his government’s undermining of democracy and civil rights.

Ortega expelled the EU ambassador in the country after demanding a return to democracy.

mm/sms (AP, AFP, dpa)

Leave a Comment