Nicaraguan regime suspends relations with the Vatican after criticism by Pope Francis

"With much respect, I have no choice but to think the person who leads (Ortega) is unstable," the pontiff said.

This Sunday, the government of Daniel Ortega announced that it decided to close the diplomatic offices of the Vatican in Nicaragua, after Pope Francis compared the Sandinista regime to a "rude" and "Hitlerian" dictatorship.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Central American country published a communiqué informing that "in view of the information that has been divulged by sources apparently linked to the Catholic Church", the government considered "a suspension of diplomatic relations".

According to several media reports, the Nicaraguan government also contacted the Holy See directly to verbally communicate the decision.

Pope Francis' statements

In a recent interview the pontiff gave his opinion on the way the Central American country is being governed. "With much respect, I have no other choice but to think that the person who leads (Ortega) is unstable. Here we have a bishop who is a prisoner, a very serious man, very capable. He wanted to give witness and did not accept exile", said in reference to the Monsignor Rolando Álvarez, who was sentenced to more than 26 years in prison for "treason".

"It is something so out of the norm of what we are living, it is as if it were bringing the communist dictatorship of 1917 or the Hitlerian dictatorship of '35, bringing here the same ones.... They are kind of obscene dictatorships. Or, to use a nice distinction from Argentina, guarangas (uncouth/vulgar)," Pope Francis continued.

In Nicaragua there is a intense persecution against devout Catholics. In addition to Rolando Alvarez, a judge recently sentenced three priests, a deacon and two seminarians to a decade in prison for treason and dissemination of fake news.