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Nicaragua-The Church

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Nicaragua Index

The Roman Catholic Church hierarchy, which had been regarded by the Sandinista government as among its harshest critics, also became critical of the Chamorro government well before its second anniversary. From the beginning, the church's hierarchy had a role in the new Chamorro government: Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, Archbishop of Managua, was named one of the guarantors of the peace accords signed during the 1990 transition period. The Roman Catholic Church also had a part in shaping society under the new government, according to some sources. Cardinal Obando was influential in revamping the national education system and curriculum to eliminate Sandinista influence. The educational revisions were carried out by Minister of Education Humberto Belli and his vice minister, Sofonías Cisneros Leiva, both of whom were close to Cardinal Obando, and by members of the City of God charismatic Roman Catholic sect.

For a short period at the beginning of the Chamorro government, the Roman Catholic Church abandoned the high-profile political and social posture it had assumed during the Sandinista years. However, the low profile was reversed when, on November 24, 1991, Cardinal Obando and Nicaragua's nine bishops, speaking as the Bishops' Conference of Nicaragua, signed a lengthy pastoral letter. This letter deplored the country's economic situation and faulted the government for a failure to establish justice. The letter also accused the government of corruption and accused, without naming them, the Sandinista labor unions of inciting violence. Finally, the letter criticized levels of military spending and the luxurious life-styles of many officials in the government in the face of poverty. In a statement that appeared to counter pressures from the United States for Nicaragua to open the economy totally to market forces, the bishops stated that poverty had reached "levels unprecedented for several decades" and noted their belief that "the free market alone cannot resolve underlying social problems."

Data as of December 1993

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