The Catholic Church and Social Change in Nicaragua

The Catholic Church and Social Change in Nicaragua

The Catholic Church and Social Change in Nicaragua

The Catholic Church and Social Change in Nicaragua

Synopsis

This book presents an in-depth, uniquely historical perspective on Nicaragua, focusing on the key role of the Catholic Church in the political, social, and religious issues that confront this country today. It examines the profound transformation of the Church via the radical approach of liberation theology and the development of the clergy's socio-political alliances in Nicaragua. Foroohar's analysis highlights the complex role of religion in politics and social change in Latin America."

Excerpt

The role of the Catholic Church in the contemporary sociopolitical upheaval in Nicaragua has been a highly controversial issue. Some have called the Church a revolutionary institution supporting a leftist movement with strong Marxist tendencies and a declared plan for socialization of the country. Others have called it a conservative establishment standing in the way of social change and the radicalization of the revolutionary process. Both analyses share a fundamental misconception in viewing the Church as a monolithic institution with internal cohesion and a well-defined political line. A brief look at the history of the Church in Nicaragua, and its development within a concrete social and political framework in any given historical period, provides a different picture; the Church, as any other institution in the society, has been affected by its surrounding environment and has reflected the social divisions and political conflicts in its own structure and ideology.

At the beginning of its history in Nicaragua, the Church, as a Spanish institution, clearly took sides with the colonial power, and it acted in close collaboration with the conquerors to convert the indigenous population to faithful vassals of the Catholic monarchs. The first conflict and internal division in the Nicaraguan Catholic Church was a clear reflection of the political conflict among the colonialists, the Spanish monarchs seeking to consolidate their direct power over their new subjects, and the encomenderos trying to maintain their absolute power over the indigenous population entrusted to them for exploitation. The power struggle dictating the political events in the colonies deeply affected the Church. The majority of the clergy -- some of whom were themselves encomenderos, while others were employed in encomiendas -- closed their eyes to the . . .

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