VATICAN CITY — Pope John Paul II will receive Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega on Friday in what appears to be a major step toward improving relations between the Vatican and Managua's leftist government after years of tension.
The meeting, announced by the Vatican on Monday, will be the first between the Pope and Ortega since March 4, 1983, when supporters of Nicaragua's ruling Sandinista party outraged the pontiff by shouting political slogans as he celebrated Mass in Managua.
The Nicaraguan Embassy to the Vatican said Ortega will be in Rome from Jan. 28 to Jan. 31. He is to arrive there from Spain, where he is to hold talks with Prime Minister Felipe Gonzalez and King Juan Carlos I about Central America.
Relations between the Vatican and Managua have been severely strained by a number of disputes, including priests holding government posts in defiance of the Vatican and the expulsion of a leading bishop in 1986.