Since August, the Sandinista government has declared war on the Catholic Church in the small Central American country of Nicaragua. Bishops and priests have been either imprisoned or exiled. The government has frozen the bank and retirement accounts of priests. The University of Central America (UCA), a Catholic university, has been confiscated and accused of serving as a training center for terrorists. The Sandinista regime has ignored the condemnation of Church officials and governments around the world. The government seems determined to eradicate the Roman Catholic Church. Sandinista President Daniel Ortega seeks to create a Nicaragua in which only the state’s views will be allowed to exist.
To their eternal shame, prominent figures in the Nicaraguan Catholic Church contributed in no small measure to this catastrophe, the seeds of which have been germinating since the conclusion in 1979 of the bloody and brutal civil war that had plagued that country for a decade. In that year, the Bolshevik Sandinistas drove the last of the Somoza dynasty of dictators from the country. Many Catholic clergy supported the Sandinistas, especially members of the Jesuit order.
Just before World War II, Jesuits increased their presence in central America. In 1937, the Society of Jesus created the vice-province of Central America, thus separating that region administratively from Mexico. Fr. Pedro Arrupe Gondra, Superior General of the Society of Jesus from 1965 to 1983, elevated the vice-province to a full province in 1976, while the civil war in Nicaragua was raging.
Eager to alleviate the suffering of the poverty-stricken masses in that region, and concerned to keep out a Communist regime, the Jesuits who worked in Central America during the 1940s and 1950s fostered the emergence of Christian Democratic parties and movements similar to those organized in Europe after World War II. A major contribution to this mission came in 1960, when Jesuits founded the University of Central America. Ironically, the Somoza family donated the land on which Nicaragua’s only private university was to be built.
During the 1960s and 1970s, however, central American Jesuits increasingly allied themselves with the far Left, in imitation of eighteenth-century figures such as the Abbé Sieyès and Talleyrand. They heralded and aided the victory of the Communist Sandinistas. Indeed, several Jesuits had been important Sandinistas themselves: Fernando Cardenal, his brother Ernesto Cardenal, Miguel D’Escoto, and Edgar Parrales, all of whom were liberation theologians who supported violent revolution against the Somoza regime.
After 1979, all of them held government positions. Fernando Cardenal served as the Minister of Education (which, of course, spouted government propaganda). Ernesto Cardenal was Minister of Culture (also propagandistic), and D’Escoto became Foreign Minister.
For his part, Arrupe called for a kind of Nicaraguan ralliement, akin to Pope Leo XIII’s plea to French Catholics in 1892 not to shun or undermine the government of the anticlerical French Third Republic. He asked Jesuits and others to offer the Sandinistas their “generous support.” Arrupe did, however, have reservations about these Communists and also said that criticism could be raised when merited.
Unfortunately, a study undertaken by UCA in the late 1990s found few things to criticize about the government. The Jesuits gave the Sandinistas a warm reception.
The sternest response to these Jesuit Sandinistas came from Pope John Paul II, who reminded them that for a priest to hold political office violated Church law (Canon 285). In 1985, the Jesuits expelled Fernando Cardenal because of pressure from the Vatican. Still, he continued to serve as Minister of Education and to reside in the Jesuit residence in Managua.
The Jesuits rehabilitated him in 1997, when he returned to the order after having repeated the novitiate. Like a latter-day Georges Danton (who had turned from a supporter to an opponent of the Reign of Terror) Cardenal accused the Sandinista movement of corruption and renounced his association with it in 1994.
As time wore on, the brutality of the Ortega regime became painfully apparent. While Ortega lost the election of 2001, he did not retire from politics. Instead, he rallied Sandinista supporters for an eventual return to the presidency. Only five years later, with the support of some Catholic hierarchs, he was reelected as president of Nicaragua. The response of many priests to his reelection was much cooler than in 1979, but he still enjoyed support. UCA’s student newspaper did not support him directly, but its editorial page remained friendly to the Sandinistas.
None of the Catholic support impressed Ortega, who cynically manipulated his allies in the Church. When some Catholic leaders disapproved of his having a mistress, he arranged for a marriage to be celebrated. The marriage, of course, was not undertaken out of repentance on either his or his lover’s part, but merely to get more electoral support out of Leftist Catholics. Those Catholics obliged.
In the late 1960s, the Italian philosopher Augusto del Noce warned that progressive Catholicism was a dead end, because in the coalition of Catholics and Leftists, the progressive element, which rejected Catholicism’s basic teachings about the human person, would predominate. Lest its utopian political, economic, and social goals be impeded, Marxists must persecute and suppress the Catholic church. Marxism utterly rejects the transcendent realities that Christianity takes to be the foundation of everything, as well as the hope for the human race.
The script for this woe-begotten drama had already played out during the French Revolution. The original leftist movement in Western civilization, Jacobinism, attempted to eradicate Catholicism. The Jacobins Robespierre, Danton, St. Just, and others sent thousands of Catholics to the guillotine from 1793-1794 because their religion allegedly fostered superstition, credulity, and intolerance. To be Catholic was – again allegedly – to reject patriotism. Later, similar movements, such as Bolshevism, followed the same script.
Source : The Catholicting