Visualize the past to build the future – Article 66

By: Pedro Lanjus, Catholic priest

facing the persecution and siege that the Catholic Church of Nicaragua is going through and the irrationality of accusing its leaders of traitors, among other adjectives; It is easy to criticize those Christians who, before the triumph of the Revolution—and especially in the 1980s, took the risk of participating in that process—had the experience of living in those years and of what they were for believers in and of themselves. were enabled through highly persuasive publications. outside the country—to create a wider range of solidarity and commitment to what we lived through in that decade.

There are publications in which this is stated in detail: Without the participation of Christians, the victory of the 1979 revolution could not have been achieved., Those of us who have been through that experience can attest to this statement.

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The strongest criticism that new generations make about us, born before the first years of revolutionary victory, is that we were blind. That we did not want to see the consequences that were going to lead us to the revolution because of the lack of a united Church that would confront the “errors” of the Sandinismo Board of Directors and that the message of John Paul II would stand firm, especially formally launched in 1983 during a holy mass celebrated in Managua during a visit to the country: «Unity of the Church above other ideologies».

I do not want and do not want to defend the position of Christians committed to a revolution that today seems to us to be a phenomenon of the past, nor to analyze the facts in retrospect and recognize the mistakes made, which I am sure Has been made on one side and on the other. What I want is to tell what our choice was, which was inspired by the Gospel and aimed at giving a deep Christian witness to the limitations of man and with the warmth that fosters our faith, which we want to be immersed in reality. Were people..

religious in nicaragua
Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo, persecuted dictators of the Catholic Church of Nicaragua

What was our proposal to accompany this “process”? Just a moving reading of history. From this we saw that the social changes announced in the revolution were a step forward in the country’s historical development. That step taken with the participation of Christians and the Church, we thought we could support by contributing evangelical values. pastoral letter “Signed” In November 1979 by the bishops and supported by the person in charge of the Apostolic Ambassa, encouraged many Catholics in those early days to have an open, positive and prophetic vision.

We the Faithful analyze moments of great change in Western history where the Church played an ambiguous role, such as the transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance; With the persecution of Galileo Galilei where the ecclesiastical magisterium had to apologize four centuries later.

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The great changes brought about by the French Revolution, the Age of Enlightenment, were rejected by the ecclesiastical hierarchy in their time and widely accepted centuries later at the Second Vatican Council. By this logic, the participation of Christians in the popular movements of the Latin American continent was an attraction and a great convocation. When Pope Wojtyla was deeply questioned by the Vatican, he repudiated the dream that encouraged thousands of Catholics in America and the world in general.

In November 1980 I was invited to Cuba to share the experience of Christians in the Nicaraguan Revolution with the younger generation of the Cuban Communist Party (PCC). They were very surprised that Christian people, mostly Catholics, participated in the process of transformation in Nicaragua, Guatemala, El Salvador, and in general throughout Latin America.

Ortega has attacked the church since the 1980s Photo: Courtesy Article 66

It was the new generation, which is currently around 70 to 75 years old. Many of them recalled their childhood and youth attending the Catholic Church as acolytes, came from deeply Christian families, and were very interested in proposing changes to the leadership of the PCC on matters of religion. He secretly promised me when we were alone in a room at the Havana Libre Hotel in the Cuban capital.

This first meeting opened up a whole process of possibilities for profound change on the island. Meetings continued with priests and liturgical agents from El Salvador and Guatemala, and later, he organized the first meeting with theologians from various churches in the United States. I was invited – once again – to share my experiences and visit the island with the PCC guests.

Cubans continued contact with prominent European theologians. This prompted the PCC to create a Center for Analysis on the Sociology of Religion and to form a team of extremists in Catholic universities in Europe to propose a new practice of dialogue with religious fact. Within this strategy, Frei Betto’s presence plays a major role with the publication of his book Fidel and religion, The result of these meetings was a profound change of the island’s constitution. At the PCC Congress in 1992, it moved from a confessedly atheistic Magna Carta to a secular nature.

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What remains of the project that was full of hope and illusion? What remains of the dreams that animate our association? were they a vague illusion, No. History has its stages of development and regression. But the early moments of a quality leap remain inspiring to innovate.

The French Revolution was betrayed by its actors. But it remains in history as a moment of change that continues to this day. This much praise of democracy by all the political leaders is the result of that rebellion of 1789. Human rights and the rule of law are values, all espoused by the Nicaraguan opposition as a legacy of that historical process, despite the errors that may be made by their own ideologues.

The Nicaraguan process may currently be going backwards ideologically and politically and religiously. It is enough to listen to the statements and testimonies of migrants, asylum seekers, and they are right in their experience. But this cannot but lead us to a new paradox.

Get out of the Ortega-Murillo family rule

Leaving aside the rule of the Ortega-Murillo family to impose a government that beheads, excludes and marginalises, not only those who have committed crimes against humanity, but everything that smacks of revolution And Sandinismo is setting aside a moment of great creativity. An inspirer of great hopes in history and in those who – like me – lived them intensely by faith.

The steps our people have to take are not a blank slate. Here is what Pope Francis says: “Each generation must make its own the struggles and achievements of previous generations – history must not be forgotten, no matter how new we dream of the future – and carry these struggles to still higher goals.”

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This is the way to face the crisis: to overcome the contradictions that gave people the light of hope without turning off the innovation that the early years of the 1979 revolution offered.

Create a new theme of history, a new participatory and democratic project, where the popular majority plays a combative role. A social rule of law based on the logic of the majority, integration of people’s self-determination and national sovereignty without diminishing the protection of human rights in all their breadth: the dominant neoliberal logic of globalization as a social, political, cultural and above all economic response.

For this, it is necessary to recreate the historical moment, gather the best of the past and open an optimistic present towards a future of peace with social justice and integral human development for all Nicaraguans.

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