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Nicaragua: Ortega accuses a “mafia” of making the decisions in the Vatican

Nicaragua: Ortega accuses «mafia» of making the decisions in the Vatican


Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega criticized the Catholic Church on Tuesday, saying that a “mafia” within the Vatican decides 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,” Mr. Ortega said at an event in Managua, the capital of Nicaragua.

This diatribe by the Nicaraguan president comes more than a week after a statement by Pope Francis who said he was “concerned” and “sadden” by the situation in Nicaragua, especially after the 26-year prison sentence of Bishop Rolando Álvarez and the expulsion of 222 opponents to the United States.

The sovereign pontiff declared that he was “deeply saddened by the news coming from Nicaragua”.

On February 9, the Ortega's government freed 222 political prisoners, deported them to the United States and stripped them of their Nicaraguan nationality.

Bishop Rolando Álvarez, detained since August 2022, refused to be extradited and was sentenced the next day to 26 years in prison, including for “conspiring and spreading false news.”

“I don't believe in popes or kings. Who elects the pope? How many votes does the pope get from the Christian people?” Ortega said.

Nicaragua has toughened its laws to suppress opposition following protests in 2018 that called for the ouster of Ortega, who had been in power since 2007. was re-elected in November 2021 for a fourth consecutive term, after a ballot in which his rivals were absent, arrested or forced into exile.

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