Nicaragua breaks off diplomatic relations with the Holy See. The Vatican confirmed on Sunday corresponding messages of the investigative Nicaraguan portal "El Confidencial". The representative of the Nicaraguan government is said to have delivered the decision orally. The diplomatic mission of Nicaragua in the Vatican and the nunciature in Nicaragua are closed. The nuncio to Nicaragua was given one week to leave the country. With the move, Nicaragua joins a small group of communist, Muslim and Buddhist countries that do not have diplomatic relations with the Vatican, including China and Saudi Arabia.

Tjerk Brühwiller

Correspondent for Latin America, based in São Paulo.

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The severance of relations is seen as a reaction of autocratic President Daniel Ortega and his wife and Vice President Rosário Murillo to statements by Pope Francis. In an interview with the Argentine portal "Infobae", the Church leader had for the first time clearly commented on the situation in Nicaragua and the attacks of the Ortega regime on the Catholic Church and its dignitaries. Pope Francis spoke, among other things, of a "Hitler dictatorship" in Nicaragua and praised the imprisoned Bishop Rolando José Álvarez. Álvarez has become a fiery adversary of Ortega within the Church. In February, he was supposed to be flown to the United States along with 222 other released dissidents, but refused to leave the country, after which Ortega called him "crazy," sentenced him to 26 years in prison, and sent to a maximum-security prison.

After the systematic elimination of the political opposition in recent years, the attacks of the Ortega regime have not stopped at the church for some time. Nevertheless, Pope Francis had always relied on dialogue. The Holy See is always trying to save diplomatic relations and what can be saved through patience and dialogue, the pope said last December in an interview with the Spanish daily ABC.

But there seems to be nothing left to save in Nicaragua. Ortega even forbade the Church this year to hold the crusade processions during Lent and Holy Week. At the end of February, on the occasion of the commemoration of the anniversary of the death of former guerrilla leader Augusto César Sandino, Ortega described the Catholic priests, bishops and the Pope as "a mafia" who did not represent the principles of God and Christ.