Nuncio Expelled from Nicaragua Appointed Papal Representative to Four African Nations

Archbishop Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag was assigned as apostolic nuncio in Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania in Africa on Sept. 6, 2022. | Photo credit: César Pérez / Archdiocese of Managua

Archbishop Waldemar Stanisław Sommertag who was expelled from Nicaragua amid harassment of Church personnel by the government of the Central American nation has been appointed the representative of the Holy Father in Senegal, Cape Verde, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania.

The appointment of Archbishop Sommertag was published by the Holy See Press Office Tuesday, September 6.

A native of Poland, the new Apostolic Nuncio to the four African countries was born in February 1968. He was ordained a Priest on 30 May 1993 and incardinated in the Diocese of Pelplin in Poland.

He entered the diplomatic service of the Holy See on 19 June 2000, and subsequently served in the Pontifical Representations in Tanzania, Nicaragua, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Israel, Palestine and Cyprus, and in the Section for Relations with States of the Vatican Secretariat of State.

The holder of a degree in Canon Law who speaks Italian, German, Russian, English and Spanish was appointed to the Nunciature of Managua in Nicaragua on 15 February 2018.


Pope Francis ordained him Bishop on 19 March 2018, assigning him the Titular See of Traiectum ad Mosam as Archbishop.

As Nicaragua faced an unprecedented political crisis over the years, Archbishop Sommertag attempted to mediate negotiations between the government and the opposition. He repeatedly called for a democratic solution and the release of political prisoners.

Relations between President Daniel Ortega-led government and the Catholic Bishops became tense following the 2018 protests.

CNA has reported that the Nicaraguan President accused Catholic Bishops of having been involved in plotting to oust him and called them “devils in cassocks” and “terrorists”.

In November 2021, President Ortega stripped Archbishop Sommertag of his role as dean of the diplomatic corps in the Central American country. And in March, the Ortega-led government expelled the Vatican diplomat, a decision that the Holy See described as "incomprehensible".

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“Such a measure seems incomprehensible because in the course of his mission Archbishop Sommertag worked with profound dedication for the good of the Church and the Nicaraguan people, especially the most vulnerable, always seeking to foster good relations between the Apostolic See and the authorities of Nicaragua,” officials of the Holy See Press office said in a statement dated March 12.

The Holy See also lauded the Archbishop Sommertag’s “participation as a witness and accompanying the national dialogue between the government and the political opposition, with a view to reconciliation in the country and the release of political prisoners.”

“While the Holy See is convinced that such a grave and unjustified unilateral measure does not reflect the feelings of the deeply Christian people of Nicaragua, it wishes to reaffirm its full confidence in the papal representative,” officials of the Press office further said in the statement.

Meanwhile, in a March 9 statement, members of the Nicaraguan Bishops' Conference reaffirmed their “adherence and closeness to Pope Francis and thanked the Nuncio, who has always accompanied us in our pastoral work, making the Magisterium and the person of the Pope present.”

The persecution of Catholics by the Nicaraguan dictatorship has reportedly continued to worsen.


In August, the Local Ordinary of Matagalpa Diocese, Bishop Rolando José Álvarez Lagos, was, for four days, prevented from leaving his Chancery and was then reportedly abducted in the middle of the night by police and taken to Managua, where he remains under house arrest at a family home.

The group of Priests, Seminarians, and Laity who were inside the Chancery with Bishop Álvarez were also blocked from leaving and were reportedly abducted that same night and taken to El Chipote, a prison in Managua known for torturing opponents of the Ortega regime.

The dictatorship of President Ortega has seen the shutting down of at least six Catholic radio stations in the Central American nation.

In Africa, Archbishop Sommertag is expected to live a new experience. While the Island nation of Cape Verde is predominantly Catholic, Senegal, Guinea-Bissau, and Mauritania, are predominantly Muslim.

Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.