They Continue Being Priests and they continue in Government Positions
To what extent is the performance of public tasks, such as those undertaken by the four priests who participate in the revolutionary government, compatible or incompatible with their priestly state?
The problem of the Catholic priests who hold Government positions, specifically Fr. Ernesto Cardenal (Minister of Culture), Fr. Miguel D’Escoto (Minister of Foreign Relations), Fr. Edgard Parrales (Minister of Social Welfare), and Fr. Fernando Cardenal (Director of the Sandinista Youth), has come to a happy resolution. The continue being priests, and they continue in Government positions. The concession that they have had to make is that of not exercising their priestly faculties, either in public or in private, while continuing in these public jobs. Comandante Borge called it a mature solution in his speech in the Plaza on July 19 at the Second Anniversary Celebration.
Development Of The ProblemFriday, June 5 –
The letter of the bishops appears asking for the resignation
of the priests with government positions.
Tuesday, June 9 –
The priests respond, affirming their priesthood and their fidelity to the people.
Wednesday, June 10 –
The Christian communities march to the Nunciature,
demonstrating the attitude of the faithful: respect for
the Bishop, but firmness in asking that the priests continue.
Thursday, June 11 –
A delegation in the name of the FSLN leaves for the
Vatican in order to deal with the problem at a high level.
Friday, June 12 –
The document, “Time of Crisis, Time of Discernment
and Grace,” is signed, which sheds theological light on
the whole problem.
June 18, 21 and 24 –
Cables with declarations by Mons. Obando arrive in
Nicaragua which describe the process and the priests
with Government positions quite harshly.
Sunday, June 28 –
The First Congress of Rural and Urban Base Christian
Communities closes with strong support for the priests
Monday, June 29 –
A large group of priests meet in Estelí and ask the
bishops to dialogue.
Monday, July 13 –
First interview of the four priests with the bishops.
Wednesday, July 15 –
Second interview and final communiqué. They can
continue being priests and continue having Government
positions, but they must refrain from exercising their
priestly faculties during this period.
Press analysis of the crisis:A little over a month has passed. During that time the news has been covered with great interest by the media. It is interesting to note the sources where this topic has received the most intense treatment. El Nuevo Diario published more than 34 documents and letter of support from parishes, communities, etc. Barricada, the FSLN organ, published more than 20 letter of support from Catholic and Evangelical groups.
Only La Prensa remained silent and toward the end tried to give another interpretation to the problem, presenting it as an act of atonement to Mons. Obando. However, they only succeeded in gathering five communiqués.
In an effort to give greater insight into the situation within the Church in Nicaragua, we have asked Father Teófilo Cabestrero to collaborate with us by preparing an analysis of the problem and its resolution.
Father Cabestrero is a Spanish-born Claretian priest who has written extensively on Latin American theological issues. He currently is on the staff at the ecumenical. Centro Antonio Valdivieso in Managua. Father Cabestrero’s reflections clearly present the thinking of many of the progressive Christian in Nicaragua.