We appreciate greatly the good work you are doing in informing people of the situation in Nicaragua and Central America. As church workers, human rights activists, journalists, Latin American specialists, government, trade union and community leaders, you communicate with significant sectors of the United States, Canada and Europe.
Thus your work takes on a particular importance in this critical moment for Central America when the international news agencies are sending out so much inaccurate and misleading information on developments within the region.
Cognizant of the need for precise and accurate information on Nicaragua, the Central American Historical Institute is establishing an Information Center serving groups such as yours in Europe and North America. This center will send out information and analysis by means of mailings, a monthly bulletin and eventually, a telephone telex network.
This month's bulletin centers on the June 1st communiquéé of the Nicaraguan Episcopal Conference stating that priests who hold government positions or carry out party functions must leave these positions or stand in open rebellion and disobedience to the church authority. Ernesto Cardenal, Minister of Culture, Edgard Parrales, Minister of Social Welfare, Miguel D'Escoto, Minister of Foreign Relations and Fernando Cardenal, leader of the July 19-th Sandinista Youth are affected by the Bishop's decision.
The Bishop's communiqué has provoked confusion, tension, discussion and dialogue among the Nicaraguan people who hold in deep respect both the church authority and these four priests who for years have served their people faithfully.
The participation of large sectors of the Nicaraguan Catholic church in a popular project which favors the poor has called forth interest and admiration throughout the world. Letters or support for the priest's participation in the government are now arriving from around the world.
We hope this bulletin provides you with the information you need to analyze the Bishop's communiqué, its content and ramifications both within Nicaragua and abroad. As background information, we are including the FSLN official statement on religion, a panel discussion between Christian base communities and government officials and a summary of events leading up to the June 1st Bishop's communiqué.
Also included are the text of the communiqué, a statement by the four priests and a letter from the Christian base communities. In addition, we have included a theological reflection and brief analysis on the situation and statement by the Central American Historical Institute requesting support for the continued participation to the priests in the government.
The Bishop's communiqué refers to the Central American Historical Institute saying;
"The Historical Institute, the Valdivieso Center and CEPA are not official organizations of the Church and have neither the approval nor the recommendation of the Episcopal Conference."
The Institute is not part and has never been part of the Church hierarchy and thus does not require authorization, this is clear. There are many groups which contribute to the Christian mission of the church without having organic connections to its hierarchical structure. Yet both in Nicaragua and abroad the document gives the impression that the Bishop's are taking away the authorization of these groups.
Briefly, the Central American Historical Institute is a Jesuit- based organization located in the Central American University, Managua, Nicaragua. From a Christian faith perspective, the Institute is participating actively in the Revolution's social, economic and political project in favor of Nicaragua's poor.
For many years, the Institute has served the Nicaraguan people. Under the brutal dictatorship and then in the insurrection, the Institute prepared actions and pamphlets that contributed significantly to the success of the Sandinista Front.
Today, the Institute is working among the people to synthesize Christian faith and the Revolution and prepare conscienticized workers both in the popular organizations and in the Christian communities. The Institute produces popular publications and also more extensive studies on the Nicaraguan process.
Sanding information to people such as yourselves who are working on Nicaragua and Central America issues is of prime importance to the Institute. Yet the effectiveness of our information Center will depend in large part upon your active participation, feedback and help. Our mailing list is very small, and thus we can send this bulletin only to persons who can reproduce and disseminate the information. Also, we are counting on your constant feedback in order to know the kind and amount of information which you can absorb and use in your work.
Please fill in and send the attached form letting us know both your informational needs and with whom you can share this information. Thank you very much. We look forward to hearing from you.
1- What areas are of chief concern to you regarding Nicaragua, e.g., Faith and the Revolution, Human Rights, Political developments, Economic situation....
2- Who is your primary constituency receiving information on Nicaragua?. What are the five major groups, organizations or networks to whom you channel your information?
3- Do you send out a newsletter or mailings in which you can reproduce this information?
4- In what other manner, can you distribute and use this information?
Please send your response to the Instituto Histórico Centroamericano, P.O. Box A-194, Managua, Nicaragua. Thank you very much for your considerations.
Francisco de Paula Oliva S.J.