Case Study: Latin America and the Catholic Church


It has been argued that conservatives in Latin American had a mutual support with the Catholic Church. A wealthy regime came to limelight but ignored the plight of the poor in the society. This prompted the priests to join efforts with the Marxist to criticize the conservative way the government was running the country.

Unfortunately, the priests as well as nuns were killed. However the Catholic Church became concerned with the close association between the priests, nuns and the Marxist. The church did dismiss the stand taken by priests and nuns that they were doing what Jesus could have done. The Pope’s visit in March 1983 in the wake of Contra war was eagerly awaited by both the Nicaraguan Catholic Church as well as Sandinista government

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Hope of Nicaraguan upon Pope’s visit

According to Hoyt, 1983 the hope of both the parties were clear and made the visit to be a special one. The church was anticipating that the Pope will come with a massage to give moral legitimacy in their quest and efforts to fight for the rights of the poor who were politically oppressed. They believed that the visit will be a calumniation in which their criticisms against the government will be supported by the Pope.

Similarly, the government on the other hand were hoping that the Pope will come with a message to support the process of peace. They hoped that the Pope will act in the capacity of a mediator and formally voice his opposition regarding aid from America to the contras. With this in mind the government went extra miles in ensuring that the day the Pope visit was a holiday and all people were offered free transportation in order to attend the mass officiated by the Pope.

Pope’s position

Surprisingly, he was very categorical with regards to church unity as being the only best way to addressing the oppression and corruption by the government. Additionally he condemned the division within the church; the ‘popular’ church and the institutional hierarchical church.

[He also advocated the authority of the Bishops, and the importance of religious education. The Pope affirmed the Vatican’s support for the conservative Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo and spoke out against the five Nicaraguan priests who held government positions] (Hoyt, 1983).

Reaction to Pope’s position

From the visit and massage delivered by the Pope, the priests as well as the majority of the Nicaraguan people were of the view that Vatican was not having the interest and the problems of the poor in its heart. He failed even to give a message of condolences to family members who lost 17 of their beloved ones killed by Contras the exact place the Pope held a mass. Similarly they were angry because the Pope promoted Archbishop Miguel Obando y Bravo who was a conservative (Hoyt, 1983).


It is important to note that the fears of the priest of the country experiencing revolutionary was confirmed since the Pope’s visit deepened animosity between the two worrying parties. Additionally the contras used the visit as propaganda to legitimize their actions.


Hoyt, K. (1983). The 1983 Visit of Pope John Paul II to Nicaragua. Retrieved on 13 August 2011


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