Vatican church has always been popular across Latin America. The most prominent faith in the continent is central to the politics and culture in all nations of the region. And with Pope Jorge Mario Bergoglio belonging from the same place, the Vatican has cemented its position in the continent.
Ushered into Latin America by European colonisers, Catholicism still remains a strong faith, even amongst the indigenous population.
The faith is steady but relations with the Vatican have begun to turn sour. Nicaragua has attacked the Vatican for being a “dictatorship” and mouthing western propaganda.
Vatican vs the believers
On February 6th, four Catholic priests in Nicaragua were sentenced to 10 years in prison. The court found them guilty of conspiring against the government. A day before, another priest was given a 10-year jail sentence for the same offenses.
The verdicts were handed down to individuals who had been associated with Rolando Álvarez, the bishop of Matagalpa. Álvarez is currently facing charges of conspiracy and undermining the Nicaraguan government.
Most people in Nicaragua are Catholic. Catholic authorities frequently supported the conservative elite of the nation under Ortega. The Nicaraguan church has shown notably strong support for the protesters’ cause. The church served as a shelter for student protestors and a venue to gather food and funds to support them.
Nicaragua President Daniel Ortega has alleged that the protests were conducted with the assistance of foreign powers and the Catholic Church’s approval.
It is important to remember that the Catholic Church in Nicaragua had an affiliation with the dictatorship of Somozas from the 1930s until the 1970s. Somozas ruled Nicaragua for four decades. But, the Church stepped away from politics after allegations of oppressive actions by the dictatorship came to light.
Vatican’s relations with West backed corrupt governments in Latin America, is not new.
And now, Daniel Ortega has picked up a fight with the Vatican.
Acting as a US puppet
The tussle between Ortega and Church isn’t recent. Ortega had been a part of the Marxist guerrilla movement and assumed control of Nicaragua in 1979. After the revolutionaries overthrew the President Somoza’s dictatorship, President of Nicaragua Ortega was highly criticized by the Vatican in the 1980s.
Thus, as soon as President of Nicaragua Ortega took power, he declared war on the Vatican.
Just days before his fourth consecutive election in 2018, he accused the nation’s Catholic bishops of serving the interests of the Yankees i.e., Americans. He went on to label the bishops as terrorists.
Though, Ortega is a devout Roman Catholic, he has distanced himself from the church he believes mouths propaganda of the western elite. He said, “As a Christian, I don’t feel represented.”
🇵🇪 President Daniel Ortega condemns international silence on the ongoing repression in Peru and sends Nicaragua's solidarity to the Peruvian people and President Pedro Castillo. pic.twitter.com/zeu3Dfl8Pk
— Kawsachun News (@KawsachunNews) February 1, 2023
Last year, Ortega called the Church a ‘perfect dictatorship.’ He justified by saying that its members are unable to elect the pope and the church lacked democracy. He said, ““If they are going to be democratic, let them start with Catholics voting for the pope, for cardinals, for bishops.” It is clear that the Nicaraguan government is determined to protect its sovereignty and that it views the Vatican as an enemy.
This is the first time a third world catholic nation has stood up to the Vatican. The church needs to realise that it’s a religious organization. Serving the interests of a few Western elite while ignoring millions of Christians in need, is a disservice to the faith. It is important for it to re-think its priorities or else stand losing its religious authority.