Latin America and the Catholic Church

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Latin America and the Catholic Church

October 13, 2012

Latin America and the Catholic Church
In 1983, Pope John Paul II embarked on a visit to Latin America, an area torn apart by revolution, violence, and extreme loss of life. Nicaragua was a country in turmoil. The left wing Sandinistas had gained a precarious control of the government, but the Somaza supporters on the right remained locked in a bloody civil war for control (Goff, 2008). Many Catholic priests and bishops were allying themselves with the Marxist left in Latin America, feeling that they were acting in the interest of the poor (Goff, 2008). The Catholic Church held a very strong anti-communist belief, and the alliance troubled the church. The Vatican hoped to resolve the issue of mounting tension with the Papal visit. Following a conference in Medelin, Columbia, in which many Bishops supported liberation theology, Catholics of Nicaragua were optimistic that the Pope would speak of standing against oppression and assisting the poor, and would support the Sandinistas’ vision of peace. They had also hoped for words of condolence for the families of 17 members of the Sandinista Youth Organization who were ambushed and killed, and buried the day before the Pope’s speech (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/47/030.html). The government arranged for free transportation for citizens, and declared a national holiday so that people could attend the mass (http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/JohnPaulII/3-CentralAmerica-1983.asp). The Nicaraguan Catholics did not get their wish, however. The sermon included demands to “abandon our unacceptable ideological commitments” for faith (Goff, 2008). The Pope spoke of the importance of support of the church as a way to combat communism, and of church unity under the bishops (http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/47/030.html). He did not say one word of condolence to the families of those that lost their lives, and made no proposal for peace....
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