The crisis between Managua and the Holy See is deepening. Nicaragua is considering suspending relations with the Vatican, the Nicaraguan Foreign Ministry said Sunday after statements by Pope Francis against the regime in power in the American country.

"In the face of information disseminated by sources linked to the Catholic Church, the Government of Reconciliation and National Unity of our blessed and still free Nicaragua specifies that a suspension of diplomatic relations is envisaged between the Vatican State and the Republic of Nicaragua," the ministry said in a statement.

A "mafia" within the Vatican, according to Ortega

Pope Francis on Friday called the regime of President Daniel Ortega a "gross dictatorship" in an interview with Argentine daily Infobae. "With all due respect, I have no choice but to think that this leader is suffering from an imbalance," he said. "It is as if we wanted to establish the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitlerian dictatorship of 1935," the pope continued.

Daniel Ortega said at the end of February that a "mafia" within the Vatican decided the election of the pope and senior religious leaders. "The people should elect the cardinals and there should be a vote among the Catholic people... so that the pope is also elected, by a direct vote of the people, so that it is the people who decide and not the mafia that is organized there in the Vatican," the Nicaraguan president said.

Imprisonment of Bishop Rolando Álvarez

The diatribe came more than a week after Pope Francis said he was "concerned" and "saddened" by the situation in Nicaragua. On February 9, Daniel Ortega's government released 222 political prisoners, deported them to the United States, and stripped them of their Nicaraguan citizenship. Bishop Rolando Álvarez, detained since August 2022, refused to be extradited and was sentenced the next day to 26 years in prison, including for "conspiracy and dissemination of false news".

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