Contemporary History Catholic Church and Latin America

ContemporaryHistory: Catholic Church and Latin America

ContemporaryHistory: Catholic Church and Latin America

PopeJohn Paul II is among the prominent leaders who visited Nicaraguaduring the period in which the oppressive political regime neglectedthe poor and favored the progress of the rick class. The pope visitedthe country in 1983 (Hopfensperger, 1983). The Catholics did notdemand much from the Pope, but just some prayers for the toughexperiences they were going through. This paper will address thehopes of the reform-minded Catholics, Pope’s position, thedisappointment of Catholics, and their fear.

Thingsthat reform minded priests hoped for

Thereform minded church leaders, the catholic priests, had the hope thatthe Pope would convey the message of peace and announce his supportof the poor people who were fighting for equality in the country.Although these priests did not expect the pope to express support ofthe Marxist principles, they expected at least that he wouldencourage them and the poor citizens to continue fighting for theirrights (Hoyt, 1983). In addition, the priests expected that the Popewould address the issue the assassination of priests and the death ofa group of youths “Sandinista Youth Organization” who had beenassassinated in an ambush. The priests hoped that the Pope would haveconsidered the slain priest as martyrs who died fighting for therestoration of the national peace.

Positionthat the Pope made clear

ThePope made it clear that his visit had nothing to do with what hadalready happened and had nothing to do with the experiences that thepriests and the poor people of Nicaragua had gone through. To thesurprise of the hopeful priests and the poor citizens, Pope requestedthem to avoid the revolutionary strategies that they had embarked on,which indicated his opposition to the liberation theory and the ideaof revolution Hoyt (1983) stated “that terrible sermon (whichdemanded that we abandon our &quotunacceptable ideologicalcommitments&quot for the faith) was half over I began to feel sick”(p. 1). This statement made it clear that the Pope would not supportthe revolutionary efforts, which disappointed many Nicaraguans.

Reasonsfor the disappointment of some Catholics

TheCatholics were mainly disappointed by the fact that Pope seemed to bereasoning in the same as the political leaders and the rich peoplewho had assassinated many people and oppressed the Nicaraguanrevolutionists. This is because, instead of supportingrevolutionists, encouraging the priests, and condemning the incumbentpolitical leadership, Pope requested the Catholics to avoid therevolutionary strategies (Hoyt, 1983). Many Catholics believed thatthis would exacerbate their suffering and continued oppression of thepoor at the expense of the progress of the rich Nicaraguans.Catholics who held this notion believed that the Pope’s visit wouldonly serve to heighten tension in the country and solve none of theexisting problems. This was a serious disappointment to Catholics whobelieved that the Pope would offer them a viable solution.

Whatthe Catholics feared could happen after the pope’s visit

Nicaraguansfeared that war would break out soon after the Pope’s visit. Thisis because the majority believed that Pope’s fueled and supportedcounter-revolutionaries, which would probably increase the enmitybetween the revolutionists who were not ready to give up theirrevolutionary strategies and the rich together with the politicalsystem. Hoyt (1983) states “This has had serious repercussions inour Paulita who has developed a terrible fear of war and what mighthappen to us all” (p. 1). This is an expression of how Nicaraguanswere about the possible outbreak of war.

Inconclusion, Nicaraguans hoped that the Pope’s visit would boost theefforts of revolutionaries. However, people disappointed theCatholics and other poor Nicaraguans by requesting them to stop theirrevolutionary activities.


Hopfensperger,J. (1983). Feuding Sandinistas and church try to use Pope’s visitto suit own ends. ChristianScience Monitor.Retrieved August 15, 2015, from

Hoyt,K. (1983). The 1983 visit of Pope John Paul II to Nicaragua.NicaraguaNetwork Education Fund.Retrieved August 15, 2015, from