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Vatican closes its embassy in Nicaragua

mężczyzna trzyma flagę Nikaragui podczas modlitwy Anioł Pański w Watykanie

FILIPPO MONTEFORTE/AFP/East News

Daniel Esparza - published on 03/23/23

The decision follows Ortega’s request to suspend diplomatic relations between Nicaragua and the Holy See.

The Vatican closed its embassy in Nicaragua last Saturday, after the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry declared that diplomatic relations between Nicaragua and the Holy See have been suspended. The decision is the most recent episode in a years-long crackdown on the Catholic Church by Ortega’s regime. In fact, the request to close their respective diplomatic missions comes one day after Ortega’s regime decided to shut down Caritas Nicaragua, and one week after the closure of seven universities – two of them with ties to the Catholic Church: the John Paul II Catholic University and the Autonomous Christian University.

According to a note published by PBS, the Vatican’s representative to Managua, Monsignor Marcel Diouf, left Nicaragua last Friday. The note claims that a Vatican official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said he was bound for Costa Rica. Monsignor Diouf was not a papal representative, that is, a nuncio, as that official was expelled already several months ago.

There are only 13 nations in the world that don’t have formal diplomatic relations with the Vatican. With this decision, the Ortega regime is aiming to join them:

In all, there are 13 countries that do not have formal diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The Holy See has no formal diplomatic relations with 8 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China (except for temporary pastoral agreements), North Korea, and the Maldives; it has no diplomatic relations with Tuvalu, but has an Apostolic Delegation for the Pacific; and it has no diplomatic relations with Saudi Arabia and Oman, but has an Apostolic Delegation for the Arabian Peninsula. In some countries, the Holy See does not have an ambassador but has apostolic delegates: the Comoros, Somalia, Brunei and Laos. Finally, the Holy See has only one “non-resident representative” in Vietnam.

Nuncio expelled last year

The Vatican’s decision to close its office came a week after Ortega’s regime proposed suspending relations with the Holy See – a proposal made one year after Nicaragua forced the papal ambassador at the time to leave: On March 2022, the then Apostolic Nuncio in Managua, Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, was expelled from Nicaragua.

At the time, the Holy See reacted to Ortega’s decision with surprise and regret. “Such a measure seems incomprehensible […] because in the course of his mission Archbishop Sommertag worked with profound dedication for the good of the Church and the Nicaraguan people, especially the most vulnerable, always seeking to foster good relations between the Apostolic See and the authorities of Nicaragua,” as read in a press release then published by the Vatican.

A regime against the Church

The social and political situation in Nicaragua has worsened in recent years. In the last five years alone, the Catholic Church in Nicaragua has gone through more than 190 attacks and desecrations, including a fire in the Managua Cathedral, the expulsion of the Missionaries of Charity, the imprisonment (and possible ‘disappearance’) of Bishop Rolando Álvarezthe exile and stripping of the citizenship of more than 222 former political prisoners, priests, bishops, and seminarians included, and the banning of traditional public processions of the Way of the Cross in all parishes in the country during Lent and Easter.

Tags:
NicaraguaPersecution of Christians
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