Nicaragua government expels Vatican diplomat

Daniel Ortega celebrates his re inauguration as president of Nicaragua Jan 10 2012 Credit Cancillera del Ecuador via Flickr CC BY SA 20 CNA Daniel Ortega celebrates his re-inauguration as president of Nicaragua, Jan. 10, 2012. | Cancilleria del Ecuador via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).

The Nicaraguan government has ended its approval for a Vatican diplomat in the country, requiring his immediate departure, the Vatican said on Saturday.

In a March 12 statement the Vatican called the decision an “incomprehensible” and “unjustified unilateral measure.”

“The Holy See has received with great surprise and regret the communication that the Government of Nicaragua has decided to withdraw the approval (agrément) of H.E. Mons. Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag, Apostolic Nuncio in Managua since 2018,” the Vatican said.

The 54-year-old Polish archbishop has been in the diplomatic service of the Holy See since 2000. He ended his service as apostolic nuncio to Nicaragua and left the country on March 6, according to the nunciature. Crux reports that Sommertag is now in Rome.

The Vatican said on Saturday that the archbishop was required to leave Nicaragua by the government of Daniel Ortega.

“Such a measure appears incomprehensible because throughout his mission H.E. Mgr. Sommertag has worked with deep dedication for the good of the Church and the Nicaraguan people, especially of the most vulnerable people, always seeking to foster good relations between the Apostolic See and the Nicaraguan authorities,” the Holy See said.

The Vatican pointed in particular to Sommertag’s participation as a witness in the 2019 National Dialogue between the government and political opposition.

“While convinced that this grave and unjustified unilateral measure does not reflect the feelings of the deeply Christian people of Nicaragua, the Holy See wishes to reaffirm its full confidence in the Pontifical Representative,” it stated.

The expulsion of the nuncio marks a further deterioration of the diplomatic relations between the Holy See and Ortega’s government.

In November 2021, Nicaraguan authorities issued a decree stripping Sommertag of the role and title of dean of the diplomatic corps. In traditionally Catholic countries, the position is often held automatically by the papal nuncio.

Reuters reported that some diplomatic sources thought the move was tied to the outspoken support for democracy by the Catholic Church in Nicaragua in recent years, especially leading up to elections.

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