Nicaragua Catholics and the Pope

What did some reform-minded Catholics in Nicaragua hope the pope might do during his visit to that country?

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When the Pope made his highly publicized visit to Nicaragua, the reform-minded Catholics in the region hoped that he would give a message of peace to the people. This is because they believed that he was going to support the usage of the “people-power” approach in dealing with social injustices (Dodson, 1986). They wanted him to be sympathetic with families in the region which continually lost members to what was generally referred to as the counterrevolution. Some members of the Sandinista Youth Organization, who had been killed in unclear circumstances, had been laid to rest a day before the Pope’s visit and it was the hope of many that the Pope would find it appropriate to offer a message of consolation to the bereaved (Gismondi, 1986). This would have boosted the people’s resolve to use all available strategies in dealing with all social issues befalling them (Isbester, 2001).

What position did the pope eventually make clear to the Nicaraguan priests?

Regarding the position of the church in Nicaragua, the Pope insisted that priests should live simple lives that could be emulated by the members of their congregation. The Pope also advised members of the Catholic Church to be united under the leadership of their bishops. However, the Pope also told the priests to understand that in their efforts to champion the rights of the poor and the oppressed, they should take care not to adopt political stances by the use of such methods as rioting against social injustices (Kirk, 1992).

Why were some Nicaraguan Catholics disappointed with the pope’s position on political action?

Some Nicaraguan Catholics did not receive the Pope’s message against political action very well because they believed he did not live in the region to understand their problems well. They stipulated in their random chants that they wanted the church to be considerate when it came to matters affecting the poor (Kearney, 1986). They wanted the Pope to understand that the people who were fighting for reforms did not have to die in vain, and their position would have been solidified, had the Pope said a prayer for the departed souls.

What did they, correctly as it proved, fear might happen after the pope’s visit?

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Without the Pope taking into consideration the people’s desire to appreciate the actions of those who had perished seeking societal reforms, the people knew that the political bourgeois would continue their oppressive actions against the poor citizenry (Greil and Kowalewski, 1987). Their fears were later proven to be true with later events such as the 1984 elections seeing that even with the people’s commitment to voting in large numbers the superpowers represented by the United States still regarded the change in the regime as achieved using illegal means.

Reference List

Dodson, M. (1986). “The Politics of Religion in Revolutionary Nicaragua.” Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science, 483: pp. 36-49.

Gismondi, M.A. (1986). “Transformations in the Holy Religious Resistance and Hegemonic Struggles in the Nicaraguan Revolution”. Latin American Perspectives, 50(13): pp.13-36.

Greil, A.L. and Kowalewski, D. (1987). “Church-State relations in Russia and Nicaragua: Early revolutionary years”. Journal for Scientific Study of Religion, 26 (1): pp. 92-104.

Isbester, K. (2001). Still fighting The Nicaraguan women’s movement, 1977-2000. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press.

Kearney, M. (1986). “Religion, Ideology, and Revolution in Latin America”. Latin American Perspectives, 50 (13): pp. 3-12.

Kirk, J.M. (1992). Politics and the Catholic Church in Nicaragua. Gainesville: University Press of Florida.

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