The Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry has declared that diplomatic relations between Nicaragua and the Holy See have been suspended. 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. This is not, however, a definitive break in relations, as reported by media outlets.
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 note published by Vatican News quotes Pope Francis who, responding to a question regarding Vatican diplomacy and Nicaragua in an interview last December, said that the Holy See’s weapon of choice is dialogue:
“The Holy See never leaves on its own. It is expelled. It always tries to foster diplomatic relations and to save whatever can be saved through patience and dialogue.”
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 Álvarez, the 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.