Latin America and the Catholic Church

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HUMN xxx
February 11, 2011

In 1983, Pope John Paul II visited Nicaragua in response to word that a growing alliance between priests and Marxists revolutionaries was emerging in Latin America. Historically, the Catholic Church in Europe had taken a strong anti-communist stance. And so the emerging alliance troubled Pope John Paul II despite the fact that priests claimed they were simply doing what Christ would do in championing the interests of the poor.

When news began spreading throughout Nicaragua that Pope John Paul II would be visiting, the reform minded Catholics of the country became hopeful that the pope would somehow lend his support to the revolutionary cause. The people understood that Pope John Paul II and the Catholic Church disfavored the Marxist principles underscoring Liberation Theology. But they were hopeful that he would at least offer some words of encouragement by voicing his support and compassion for the thousands of Nicaraguans who had suffered and died at the hands of the oppressive regime (Hoyt, 1996). By doing so, perhaps the rift between the church and the people could be mended. And then the revolution could take root and much needed social and economic change could finally be realized.

As became painfully evident to the people of Nicaragua, Pope John Paul II was not about to provide any encouragement for their revolutionary cause. During his visit to the country, his vehement opposition to liberation Theology was expressed as he told the people you must abandon your “unacceptable ideological commitments” (Hoyt, 1996). The pope was, of course, referring to what he considered the unholy wedding of Marxist principles with Christianity. And as far as the pope was concerned, there was no ground for compromise on the subject. Marxism in the mind of Pope John Paul II was an ungodly doctrine that placed human solutions, not God, at the center of all things....
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