Is this the last episode in the power struggle between the Nicaraguan government against the Church? The charge d'affaires of the nunciature in Managua, the country's capital, has moved to neighboring Costa Rica.
The transfer took place on Friday, March 17. Msgr. Marcel Diouf, who dealt with the affairs of the nunciature in the absence of the nuncio, was obliged to close the diplomatic representation of the Holy See in Nicaragua, following a request from the Nicaraguan government dated March 10, 2023.
Under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations, custody of the nunciature and its property was entrusted to the Italian Republic. Diplomatic relations between Nicaragua and the Holy See have therefore been suspended.
A year ago, on March 12, 2022, the Apostolic Nuncio in Managua, Msgr. Waldemar Sommertag, was expelled from the country. The Holy See could only make the observation: “Such a measure appears incomprehensible,” specified the communiqué of the Holy See, which added that the nuncio had always sought to promote good relations between the Apostolic See and the Nicaraguan authorities. .
Subsequently, the government proceeded to arrest a number of priests, religious, and even a bishop who had been indicted. Some of them were finally expelled from the country, but Bishop Rolando Alvarez refused this solution and was sentenced on February 12 to 26 years in prison for treason.
On January 31, the authorities canceled the legal standing of Caritas: “on January 31, 2023, by act 79 of the extraordinary assembly of members of Caritas Nicaragua, they accepted the voluntary dissolution and liquidation of this organization,” one can read in the document. Since 2019, the organization has not been able to receive international aid or carry out its activities.
The government also confiscated two universities: John Paul II University and the Christian University of Nicaragua. The Ministry of the Interior ordered these universities to hand over to the National Council of Universities information concerning the students, enrollment and academic records.
The John Paul II University is an institution of the Episcopal Conference of Nicaragua, which operates as a center of higher education and offers undergraduate, graduate, and postgraduate education. It was founded in 1993 on the initiative of Caritas.
The restriction of freedom of the Church in the country has become increasingly strong. It could even tighten further, like the banning of two processions by the police last September in Masaya, south-east of the capital.