Catholic bishops call for political change in Nicaragua

The separation between church and state continues to blur in Nicaragua

Not to be outdone by the president and first lady when it comes to mixing religion and politics, Nicaragua’s Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops this week issued its strongest rebuke to date of the Sandinistas’ political model, which the government touts as “Christian, Socialist and in Solidarity.”

“Politics in this country is dominated by a style of exercising authority in a way that is autocratic and abusive, which is manifest through a concentration of power and an excessive desire to conserve power and perpetuate in power through the manipulation of the law and institutions and the destruction of the fundamental principles that constitute rule of law,” the Conference of Bishops said in a 13-point message to the Catholic faithful of Nicaragua.

While the first lady incessantly invokes the images of Christ and the Virgin Mary during her daily soliloquies, and President Daniel Ortega has likened ALBA to “the project of Christ,” leaders of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua claim Jesus wouldn’t be too pleased with the political situation here.

The bishops’ conference says Jesus “proposes a new model” where government authorities are “at the service of others and sacrifice their own interests for those of others.”

Nicaragua’s current political model has led to “inevitable polarization, arrogance, ambition and disrespect for the law, corruption, intolerance and useless struggles among members of society,” the Episcopal Conference said in what is arguably its strongest rebuke of the Sandinista government in nearly six years.

Nicaragua “urgently needs to redesign its political system,” the bishops stressed.

The clergy also blasted Nicaragua’s opposition parties for failing to interpret the will of the people, failing to renew their leadership and failing to offer any alternative political strategies or proposals.

The bishops said it is up to each individual whether or not to vote in the municipal elections in November, but said there is a “profound lack of confidence in the authorities of the Supreme Electoral Council” following the “serious complaints of fraudulent acts and irregularities” in the 2008 municipal elections and the 2011 presidential elections.


  • Joe G. Jones

    This is a very bold admonition of the current government, which might even jeopardize the Bishops standing in Nicaragua. I am amazed at the candid statements and wonder if their congregations will support them when they may need them most. I have heard similar comments from Nicaraguan people which were surprising in that the comments were made to “Gringos”.
    I am not so pompous as to think that the kind of democracy we enjoy in the United States would be a good fit for Nicaragua at this time, but it seems that education is one of the true voids in this country, out of reach for most of the children, financially. If this one situation is overcome, I can see that the ingenuity of the Nicaraguan people would help this country rise both politically and financially to it’s proper place in the America’s.

    • Obionebenobi

      “The kind of Democracy we enjoy in the United States”…………

      Is that the democracy that invades other countries without getting congressional approval? Or the kind of democracy that fraudulently brings leaders to power when they lost the common vote? Or that illegally bombs countries using decommissioned pilots under CIA guidance?
      I’m pretty sure that isn’t the kind of democracy we want in Nicaragua. I don’t see Nicaraguan “democracy” as any less corrupt than western “democracy”.
      Lets not kid ourselves and think for one moment that our systems are better than anyone else’s, politics IS corrupt – period. The system of corporate lobbyists contriving with corrupt government officials is the underlying problem here or anywhere else. There isn’t a democratic model anywhere in the world that stands up to the test of true “democracy”. And the Catholics hands are just as dirty as anyone else’s, they are true political lobbyists also, always have been, always will be.
      Systemic change is required, root and branch, at home and here too….

  • Jim Lynch

    Very much in agreement with Joe: Education is both the key and foundation for freedom and the Catholic clergy has more often than not stood alone to face the tyranny that has been so prevalent in the history of the poor, little country. One can conclude that the Sandinista regime, once the liberators, have now fallen into the “power corrupts” trap that curses so many conquerors.

  • Lucio Rangel

    Exciting comments…The bishops’ conference says Jesus “proposes a new model” where government authorities are “at the service of others and sacrifice their own interests for those of others.”

    For the audience. I guess for many a better scenario would be better having government authorities “at the service of others” such as the dictating policies imposed to previous governments by the US State Department funneled via US Embassy in Managua. Would you feel more comfortably with old Mr. Callagham failed practices,?

    Pass failed intervention in Nicaraguan national affairs is under control by the current government who chooses to demand respect for the Nicaraguan national sorbenty and the will of his people.

    Politicians dressed in cassocks presenting themselves as Godly men ?

    Who do they intend to deceive ?…these beetles only represent the worst reactionary segment in society with no contributions whatsoever, simply well fed parasites!

  • Mela Pellas

    I say lets name Dani O. king of Nicaragua and save the wasted money in elections, CSE and all that. If it works for Great Britain, why wouln’t it work for us? And then we would have the ugliest Queen ever and all them born out of wedlock Ortega Murillo’s would be Princes and Princesses. Cool.

    • Kelvin

      Mela, last time I looked, Great Britain still had a Prime Minister, democratic elections, a House of Commons, a House of Lords and a legal system that is arguably the envy of the world. Yes, all that would work very well for Nicaragua.

  • Ken

    I’m not so sure I agree with the implied premise that church and state should be separate in Nicaragua. This is a US mantra, and may frankly not work very well even there. Productive policy discussions need to be rooted in values, and values have to come from somewhere. Much of the divisiveness in the US today may be attributed to a failure of the various sides to agree on a common slate of values. Anyway, I don’t believe that the Nicaraguan constitution calls for a separation of church and state, nor do I believe it should (so long as religious diversity is permitted, which it is). Moreover, the Sandinista Revolution was steeped in the theology of liberation, and even Ortega always explained his political philosophy in terms of his Catholic faith. (His alleged recent conversion is wrong. He was always Catholic in his orientation.) Accordingly, I’m happy to see the bishops weighing in. No one side should be able to monopolize the political interpretations of the faith, and criticizing political institutions from the foundation of faith is exactly the right thing to do in Nicaragua.

    On another note, I’m afraid I can’t agree with the posts stressing the importance of education. Whereas people like to believe that increased education leads to increased economic prosperity and all the rest, the research actually shows that education beyond primary school is an effect of prosperity, not its cause. In extreme cases, of which there are many (like the US) prosperity causes credential inflation. Everyone knows that in the US a college degree is now frequently required for jobs (like journalists) that were ably done by people with only high school diplomas or less a half century ago. Faith in education needs to be tempered by the facts, as well by the awareness that it may be a more inviting solution because it is easier to favor than messier economic and political initiatives. Anyway, sure, Nicaragua really needs to focus on improving primary school education, and to some extent beyond that the more the merrier, but putting too much faith in education amounts to assuming that the tail wags the dog.

  • PRD

    Only opposition comments that POSSIBLY might be heard and put into proper context of what can/needs to be done for the will and needs of the people to be addressed with something behind it. Flaky opposition parties that can’t agree don’t carry any weight or solidarity for advancing democratic principals that are “of, by and for” the people. Similar to US, as Rep and Dems keep a strangle hold on ability of a strong voice of, by and for the people to make any head way in the status quo of governance.

  • Hide behind

    Am in US but have had a few Ncaraguan aquaitences here in State, most have returned home as teachers and biisnessmen but only reason I write is because they were all “EDUCATED” as truly educated individuals should be.
    Chomsky had it pegged when he stated americans attend college. and university. to purchase a degree. not for an education. That some. possibly the majority. get a degree upon graduation but are dumber than when they entered.
    For the most part they ar
    Cha US institution that shall remain unspoken,

  • Mareli

    The church has too much clout in Nicaragua, as can be seen from the total ban on abortion regardless of the circumstances. II would not want to be a pre-menopausal female Nicaraguan.

  • mark druce

    The whole inequality goes back Christians and Catholics not doing what their bibles tell them to do. That is to give your excess possessions and wealth to the poor. Jesus said , “It’s easier for a rich man to go through the eye of a needle than to enter the kingdom of God.

    How many less hungry, homeless, uneducated, untrained, and criminals would there be if you really followed the principles of God? To give 10% is not enough if you can afford Mercedes, Jaguars, Range Rovers, Porche’s. It is not enough if you own more than one house. One house is enough. It is not enough if you buy diamonds, emeralds, and pearls.

    Businesses should share their profits equally with their worker, the ones who really do the work. Business should be satisfied with profits of 25% to 100%, and not want to make more profit. Businesses should not try to hide their assets overseas to avoid paying taxes,

    There will be many surprised Christians and Catholics who will not go to heaven because they acted as if they did what God wanted them to do. Jesus will know who were really secular in their heart and everyday by putting money for excess worldly pleasures over helping those in need.

    Yes, the church should have a role in government, but the role should be to make people live a life and have a mental basis of helping those in need for the overall improvement of the entire country. This would encourage the government to be better. You would have lower taxes. You would have less government in your daily lives. There would be no need for government food, education, and health programs. You would be following the doctrines of the Christian and Catholic churches.