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The Popes 1983 Visit to Nicaragua, Case Study Example

Pages: 2

Words: 443

Case Study

In 1983, Nicaragua was in the middle of a tense and bloody political battle. The Sandinista party, a movement of the people, had recently toppled the Somoza dictatorship. A tense situation also existed between the Sandinista government and the Nicaraguan Catholic Church. The church opposed the Sandinista government because of its populist leanings. However, the church itself was also divided because some priests had taken the side of the Sandinista government and the people, and some Nicaraguan priests even served in government positions, which was frowned upon by the Pope, ad DeMott describes in his article, “The 1983 Visit of Pope John Paul II to Nicaragua (DeMott 1983).”

The reform-minded Catholics, such as Katherine Hoyt, hoped that the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1983 would bring some change. The hope was that he would give some legitimacy to the Sandinista government, calling for peace and an end to the bloody fighting (Hoyt 1983). There was at the least the hope that he would say a prayer for the murdered teenagers who been killed the day before by Contra forces (Hoyt 1983).. The Pope did neither. According to Hoyt, the Pope spoke to the crowd, admitting that they lived in unjust and inhuman conditions but that they shouldn’t be tempted to rise up in arms against the oppressors (Hoyt 1983)..

In the end, the visit of Pope John Paul II only worsened the situation in Nicaragua. It gave legitimacy to the contra forces and instead of bringing peace, his visit brought more war. Since the Sandinista government had declared the Pope’s visit a national holiday and provided free transportation to both of the mass’s performed by the Pope, in Leon and Managua, most of the country’s Catholics heard the speech. According to Hoyt, in Managua the people started chanting “A prayer for our dead” and “We want peace”, requests that were denied by the Pope (Hoyt 1983).. The chasm between the sects of the church thus widened.

After the Pope’s visit, counter-revolutionaries on the side of the contra’s got a boost in moral. The frequency of attacks and battles in Nicaragua quickly followed in the aftermath of the Pope’s visit (Hoyt 1983). The hope of the Sandinista government was that the Church would recognize that the new government was not only wanted by the people but that it was bringing them benefit. Instead, the Pope showed that he was not concerned for the people or their government.

References

DeMott, Stephen (March 1983) “Nicaragua: Catholics Caught in the Middle of a Power Struggle” Retrieved October 8, 2010 from http://www.americancatholic.org/Features/JohnPaulII/3-CentralAmerica-1983.asp

Hoyt, Katherine (March 1983) “The 1983 Visit of Pope John Paul II to Nicaragua” Retrieved October 7, 2010 from http://www.hartford-hwp.com/archives/47/030.html

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