The Catholic Church and Social Change in Nicaragua

By Manzar Foroohar

Subjects: Latin American Studies
Paperback : 9780887068652, 279 pages, June 1989
Hardcover : 9780887068645, 279 pages, July 1989

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Table of contents


1. The Catholic Church in Nicaragua

Historical Background

The Nicaraguan Catholic Church and the Independence Movement

Conservative-Liberal Conflict and Foreign Intervention

Expulsion of Jesuits

Political Development and the Church

Zelaya and the United States

North American Direct Intervention

The Church and the North American Intervention

Sandino's Struggle

The Catholic Church and Sandino

The Liberal Government

The Catholic Church and Liberal Governments

2. Economic Formation and Sociopolitical Conflict


Industrial System

Sociopolitical Conflict

Political Opposition

3. The Response of Latin American Catholics to Socioeconomic Problems

Liberation Theology

The Church and Politics

Catholicism and Class Struggle

The Latin American Church and Class Struggle

The Catholic Church and Socialism


4. Implementation of Liberation Theology in Nicaragua, 1968–72

A Conservative Hierarchy

Radical Clergy

First National Pastoral Meeting

Public Expression of New Ideas

New Leadership in the Catholic Church

5. The 1972 Earthquake and the Aftermath

Growing Political Opposition

The Catholic Church and the Opposition

Unión Democrática de Liberación (UDEL)

Dissident Liberals

The Social Christian Party

The Conservative Opposition

The Socialists

Workers' Unions

UDEL's Program

6. The FSLN and the Progressive Church

Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional

The Student Movement and the FSLN

The Political Opposition and the Reforms of the 1960s

FSLN and the Catholic Church

Military and Political Work

The FSLN in the 1970s

Radicalization of the Christian Base Communities in Managua

The Process of Radicalization in Barrio Riguero, 1972–77

The Process of Radicalization in Barrio OPEN 3, 1972–77

Radicalization in San Pablo Parish

Rural Population and the Catholic Church

The Capuchin Fathers in Zelaya

Repression in Zelaya

Repression in Other Rural Communities

Transformation of the Peasantry and the Rural Church

Public Condemnation of the Repression

7. Intensification of the Political Conflict and Clarification of the Sociopolitical Alliance

The October Offensive, National Dialogue, and the Role of the Church

The Assassination of Pedro Joaquin Chamorro and the General Strike

Collapse of the Bourgeois Leadership

The FSLN and the Bourgeoisie

The Last Attempt to Stop the Revolution: the United States, the Nicaraguan Bourgeoisie, and the Catholic Hierarchy






This book presents an in-depth, uniquely historical perspective on Nicaragua, focusing on the key role of the Catholic Church in the political, social, and religious issues that confront this country today. It examines the profound transformation of the Church via the radical approach of liberation theology and the development of the clergy's socio-political alliances in Nicaragua. Foroohar's analysis highlights the complex role of religion in politics and social change in Latin America.

Manzar Foroohar is Professor of History at the California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo.


"(This work) provides an historical depth long lacking in the important discussions of the Church-State relations on Nicaragua since 1979. This book reveals the complexity of the issues...and I applaud the author's global vision of her subject. I felt that new insights and understandings rewarded my reading." — E. Bradford Burns, UCLA

"It is the first extensive, thoroughly-researched, comprehensive study in English of the role of the Church in the Nicaraguan revolution. Dr. Foroohar's is a balanced and sympathetic treatment, respectful of the persons and ideas involved in the process. To me, as a student of recent Central American history, it has been fascinating. The present foreign policy of the United States towards Central America can be a desperate response to precisely the phenomenon which this book examines. It appears (the author) understands both the necessity of revolution and the centrality of religion in human experience...quite rare in writers on the Central American imbroglio." — David Sweet, University of California at Santa Cruz