Case Study Latin America and the Catholic Church Malaika Nicholson DeVry University Pope John Paul II visited Nicaragua in 1983. His visit was a response to rumors regarding an alliance that was developing between Marxists revolutionaries and priests that was beginning to emerge in Latin America. The Catholic Church historically was strongly against communism. Therefore, these alliances that were emerging between priests and revolutionaries were troublesome to Pope John Paul.
Even though the priest denied doing anything wrong, but instead were only doing the will of God and what Christ, himself would do in taking interest in the poor. News of Pope John Paul’s II upcoming visit created hope among reform minded Catholics. Not knowing exactly how, they hoped he would lend his support for the revolutionary case. Because the Pope as well as the Catholic Church did not support the principles the Marxist held regarding Liberation Theology, the people hoped that if nothing else, he would offer words of compassion and support.
There were thousands of Nicaraguans who died and suffered by the oppressive regime and were in desperate need for hope . They hoped that the gap between the people and church could be repaired and that economic and social changes could become a reality. The Pope’s visit would come during the time that the country was in major lack due to governmental corruption. Reform minded Catholic in Nicaragua had high hope that he would speak out on behalf of the people. The position the pope took led to disappointment by Nicaraguan Catholics because he did not focus on political reform in his speech.
They had anticipated him to serve as a catalyst in social and political reform by publically supporting their cause. Instead, Pope John Paul II expressed the civic duty by Nicaraguan priests to help the less fortunate and to be good examples to the rest of society. The people of Nicaragua became painfully aware that the pope was not going to support their revolutionary cause during his visit. During his visit he did express his extreme disapproval to liberation Theology encouraging people to abandon their ideological commitments in reference to his views on mingling of Marxist values with
Christianity. Pope John Paul II wanted to emphasize the importance of not compromising Christian views of God at the center of all things with Sandinistas ideals of Humanism. The Pope’s visit was an event of great significance; some say even leading to the Nicaraguan Civil War. His visit also intensified tension between Sandinistas and Nicaraguan Catholics who supported them. Pope John Paul’s II visit also fueled rebel groups (Contras) as a form of propaganda, supporting their cause by giving them more legitimacy.
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