In the year 1983, John Paul 11 made a visit to Nicaragua in Latin America. The government and the Catholic Church had worked together in ensuring that all means of transport were available and a great number of populations attended the gathering. The reform-minded Catholics in Nicaragua had some expectations from the pope. The crowd composed of several Christian revolutionaries whom their hopes about their families had been swept away. They anticipated that the Pope will pass some words of comfort to most of the families who had lost their loved ones to the counter revolution.
It was only one day after the burial of 17 members of the Sandinista Youth Organization who had been killed in an ambush (Hoyt, 1983). Therefore, as a higher person in a foreign state and who was visiting the country at that particular period, they expected the pope to make some sympathetic remarks. When Pope John Paul 11 visited Latin America, the reform-minded Catholics expected him to do a prayer for the dead and bring peace by ensuring that the Church is on the side of the poor.
The pope made a comprehensible political position and he encouraged the Catholics that despite the fact that most of them live in unjust and callous conditions, they should not be enticed to rise up in arms against their oppressors. He added that the memories of martyr like Archbishop Romeo should not maneuver them politically. The mothers of Heroes and Martyrs gave the Pope their petition for peace but to their surprise, he never made any sympathetic remark either publicly or privately. Although he strongly talked about Church unity under the bishops, he was very vigilant not to give even a single bit of word to the revolution.
The Pope never fulfilled the requests of the people to make a sermon and a prayer relating to those who had been murdered; instead he preached on the most terrible sermons “unacceptable ideological commitments” for the faith (Hoyt, 1983). He beseeched with the people to have peace and respect with the native people. He encouraged them to be primary agents of their self promotion and this could only be possible if they formed some associations for the justification of their rights and realization of their concerns.
However, he encouraged the Nicaraguan priests not to have priestly involvement in politics. The people were highly disappointed with the Pope’s position on political action. They believed that by the fact that the Pope’s priests and nuns had expressed their support for the war, the pope could also support it but the he greatly criticized the Farkland War. There was discouragement and anger among the Nicaraguan Catholics because the Pope never compromised his stand on political action and he did not fulfill their expectations.
They were much disappointed when the pope refused to listen to the cries and petitions of thousands of mothers who pleaded for his intervention for justice for their children who had been agonized under the Somoza dictatorship (Hoyt, 1983). The reform-minded Catholics feared the Pope’s visit would result to a higher level of apprehension between the State and the Church. They feared that the poor will continue to be oppressed, killed and there would be no peace. Additionally, they feared that the division among the Catholics who were for and against the revolution would be deeper than was ever before.
They believed that the Nicaraguan hierarchy could have less tolerance for the government and for Catholics who supported the revolution (Hoyt, 1983). The Nicaraguan hierarchy’s could harden their attitude towards the priests who were presently holding government positions. There was great fear that the Nicaragua’s revolutionary leadership could divide the church with a social movement adhering to a popular church. Reference Hoyt, K (1983). The 1983 Visit of Pope John Paul 11 to Nicaragua. Retrieved on 11th August 2010 from, http://www. hartford-hwp. com/archives/47/030. html
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