ROME (LifeSiteNews) – Nicaragua suspended diplomatic relations with the Holy See on Sunday in response to Pope Francis’ remarks in a recent interview calling dictator Daniel Ortega “unstable” and comparing him with Hitler after the imprisonment of Bishop Rolando Alvarez.
The Nicaraguan government maintains that the suspension does not entail a permanent break with Rome. Vatican sources, speaking with the Associated Press, stated that the request to close diplomatic missions was made by Nicaragua. The suspension would entail the closure of both the Vatican’s embassy in Nicaragua and the Nicaraguan embassy to the Holy See in Rome.
The break comes after an interview Pope Francis gave to Spanish-language outlet Infobae in which the Pope said about Alvarez: “It is something out of line with reality; it is as if we were bringing back the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitler dictatorship of 1935.” Using the Argentine word “guarangas,” referring to rudeness, the Pope continued, saying, “They are a type of vulgar dictatorships” and “With much respect, I have no choice but to think that the person who leads [Daniel Ortega] is unstable.”
Last month, Alvarez was sentenced to 26 years and four months for charges of being “a traitor to the country” for the alleged crimes of “undermining national security and sovereignty, spreading fake news through information technology, obstructing an official in the performance of his duties,” and “aggravated disobedience or contempt of authority.”
The FBI is planning to intensify its “assessment” and “mitigation” of “Radical Traditionalist Catholics” over the next 12 to 24 months according to an explosive document from a former agent turned whistleblower.
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The bombshell 8-page memo was released by former FBI agent Kyle Serpahin on his website UncoveredDC Wednesday. The report, written by an FBI analyst in Richmond, Virginia, was published for internal agency use only on January 23, is titled, “Interest of Racially or Ethnically Motivated Violent Extremists in Radical-Traditionalist Catholic Ideology Almost Certainly Presents New Mitigation Opportunities.”
Seraphin describes the briefing as an “intelligence product” that, though not being exhaustive, can be used as an initial reference point for the agency to “prop up” future investigations on the subject. He says he obtained the document from an anonymous Baptist employee for the agency.
“This is the first FBI Richmond domain product to focus on the interest of racially or ethnically motivated violent extremists in the Radical Traditional Catholic movement,” the document states. “A search of FBI databases indicates this is also the first FBI finished intelligence product to specifically address this environmental variable.”
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Among the most controversial aspects of the memo is that it directly cites a defamatory study conducted by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on the subject “Radical Traditional Catholicism.” The SPLC has long been rejected as a legitimate resource for the FBI, Seraphin says, but in this instance, it is being relied on as a primary source to justify its efforts. The memo also references three anti-Catholic smear articles (here, here, and here) published by leftwing websites Salon and The Atlantic to defend its monitoring.
The report alleges that its real motivation is a concern that “Radical Traditionalist Catholic Ideology” possesses an “anti-Semitic, anti-immigrant, anti-LGBT, and white supremacy” outlook, and that this presents a threat to the US’s domestic well-being. The report further claims that adherents to RTC ideology “frequently share language and symbolism, such as crusader references or anti-Semitic discourses” online that pro-life white nationalists also support.
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FBI whistleblower releases docs showing agents are surveilling “Radical” Traditional Catholics in Virginia
Also last month, Nicaragua sent 222 political prisoners into exile to the United States, including priests. Ortega noted that when Alvarez was taken to the airport he refused to board the plane without first speaking with his priests and other bishops, and that the U.S. would not allow anyone to be forced to leave. Alvarez was previously held under house arrest since August.
Early that month, Ortega ordered the closure of Catholic radio stations under Alvarez’s guidance, and the Nicaraguan telecommunications agency stated that the stations did not meet technological requirements mandated for use of the Nicaraguan airwaves.
In March 2022, the Apostolic Nuncio to Nicaragua, Monsignor Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag, was expelled from the country after calling for the release of political protesters imprisoned by the regime. Since Sommertag’s expulsion, the Vatican’s embassy in Nicaragua was overseen by a chargé d’affaires.
After Sommertag’s departure, the Ortega regime has ordered the expulsion of religious orders, including the Missionaries of Charity, and Ortega labeled the Church a “perfect tyranny,” calling for the election of priests, cardinals and the pope in an anti-Catholic tirade amid criticism that his regime was undemocratic last September.
Francis, meanwhile, faced criticism for his apparent silence in the face of Ortega’s persecution.
Speaking at a congressional hearing last December, Republican U.S. Congressman Chris Smith, a practicing Catholic from New Jersey, stated, “Many, myself included, have also questioned why the Holy See and Pope Francis in particular have not been more vocal in light of this persecution of the Church and a courageous church leader like Bishop Álvarez — not to mention the expulsion of the Sisters of Charity, Mother Teresa’s order of nuns, from Nicaragua this past summer. They were reportedly forced to leave the country over land on foot to Costa Rica.”
A U.N.-established Group of Human Rights Experts on Nicaragua (GHREN) report released early this month stated that the Ortega regime has committed and continued to commit “crimes against humanity” by perpetrating acts of torture, extrajudicial executions, arbitrary detention, deportation, rape, sexual violence, and suppression of political, social, and religious freedoms.
In January, the World Watch List 2023, an annual report on the persecution of Christians throughout the world, placed Nicaragua within the top 50 countries for “increasingly visible” “communist repression of church leaders” for their faith.
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