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Amid tensions with hierarchy, Ortega invites Pope Francis to Nicaragua

Catholic World News - December 03, 2013

Following three years of spiritual preparation, the Church in Nicaragua celebrated the centenary of the institution of the ecclesiastical province of Managua on December 2. Pope Francis appointed Cardinal Nicolás López Rodríguez of the Dominican Republic as his special envoy for the occasion.

The prelate replaced the original special envoy, Venezuelan Cardinal Jorge Urosa Savino, who did not travel because of health reasons, the Spanish news agency EFE reported.

Cardinal López Rodríguez met with Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega amid tensions with the nation’s bishops, who recently denounced a plan by the ruling party to amend the constitution to allow presidents to serve an indefinite number of terms. During the meeting, President Ortega invited Pope Francis to visit Nicaragua.

President Ortega, a leader of the Marxist Sandinistas who overthrew the authoritarian regime of Gen. Anastasio Somoza Debayle, ruled Nicaragua from the 1979 Sandinista takeover until his loss in the 1990 presidential election. Blessed John Paul II’s 1983 apostolic journey to Nicaragua was one of the tensest of his pontificate, with Sandinista supporters repeatedly interrupting the Pope during his open-air Mass.

Ortega won the presidential elections of 2006 and 2011; a bishop recently said his government has undertaken a “devious persecution” of the Church.

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