Pope Francis said Thursday that the Vatican is maintaining a dialogue with the Nicaraguan government about its measures against the Catholic Church and hopes that “at least” the Missionaries of Charity will be allowed to return to the country.
The pontiff said he did not understand the government’s behavior: he expelled the apostolic nuncio, closed the Nicaraguan headquarters of the Missionaries of Charity congregation and placed a bishop under house arrest. But Francis emphasized that the Vatican is not prepared to sever relations or contact with the Nicaraguan government.
“There is dialogue. This does not mean that I approve of everything the government does or that I disapprove of everything. No. There is dialogue and problems must be resolved. Right now there are problems,” the pontiff said.
Speaking to reporters on the plane taking him back to Rome from Kazakhstan, Francis described Managua’s expulsion of nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag as “something very serious from a diplomatic point of view.” He was recently appointed head of the nunciature for West Africa.
Francis said he hopes that at least the Missionaries of Charity, founded by Mother Teresa of Calcutta, can return to the Central American country.
“These women are good revolutionaries, but from the Gospel! They do not make war on anyone. On the contrary, we all need these women. It is a gesture that is not understood… But let’s hope they come back, ”she declared.
The Vatican has been largely moderate in its public reactions to President Daniel Ortega’s repressive measures, limiting itself to issuing a statement expressing concern over Sommertag’s expulsion, and again last month over the house arrest of the Bishop of Matagalpa, Roland Alvarez.
The Vatican authorities have said that they have not wanted the conflict to worsen with a public reproach to the Ortega government.
Sommertag’s appointment to West Africa creates a vacancy at the nunciature in Managua that the Vatican will presumably fill with someone else if the Ortega government approves his credentials.