During this week, we remember the Catholic Church's important role in contemporary Latin American politics.
LatinAmerican Post | Santiago Gómez Hernández
Listen to this article
Leer en español: La Iglesia Católica y su papel político en Latinoamérica
The Catholic Church had been a significant axis of power for centuries. From Europe to Latin America, the role of popes and priests has shaped world history. Cases such as the Crusades, the balance of power, and the fall of the Soviet Union in Poland, among many other cases, exemplify the power and influence of the church in world history. However, today, in times of greater secularism, the Vatican and its representatives continue to play a crucial political role in the world and Latin America.
According to data from the 2015 Pontifical Yearbook, there are about 425 million Catholics in Latin America. If it is true that the number of faithful in Rome went from 92% of the population to 69%, they are still very influential. It no longer has direct political power from before but indirectly influences the people. Even don't just believe.
Today, the Catholic Church plays an essential role in various modern debates. In various contemporary political debates, the church aligns itself with a clear political position, which tends to the right. The main divisive issues are the right to abortion, the marriage of homosexual couples, adoption by these couples, and euthanasia, which are clear examples that occupy the Latin American tabloids daily.
The Catholic Church plays a crucial role in different countries where these issues are still debated on the political agenda, with convening power and precise positions. Although all Latin American countries have declared themselves secular, Christian and Catholic values remain the basis of the constitutions. To modify it, they must fight against conservatism, including the church.
A Progressive Church
Although the Catholic Church continues to be a protagonist of the conservative political agenda, the Church of Pope Francis still has several policies that it shares with progressivism. This has been so much that many have branded Jorge Mario Bergoglio as a socialist.
Rome's main imprint or message is solidarity with the poor and an austere and ecological church. With the doctrine of Pope Francis, the fight for the environment, and support for the most favored, they tend to align themselves more with the most progressive sectors of the countries.
Peace Process in Colombia
The Catholic Church has played an essential role in the peace agenda in Colombia. Not only has he been a mediator in peace gestures over time, but also because he was a guarantor of the peace process between the Colombian government and the FARC guerrillas.
You can also read: Venezuelan opposition: between Henrique Capriles and María Corina Machado
The church has served as a facilitator in releasing the hostages, and when the peace process began, it received the support of the religious institution. As the negotiations progressed, various priests came out against what was being ceded, aligning themselves with the Colombian conservative sector. However, from the Vatican and the Colombian Episcopal Conference, the official message always supported a peaceful solution.
The Stronghold of the Opposition in Nicaragua
Perhaps today, it is in Nicaragua where the most active political role of the Catholic Church can be seen. This is because various voices within the church have been strong critics and denouncers of human rights violations by the Sandinista government. She is one of the primary opponents of the Daniel Ortega regime, and her priests suffer government persecution.
In addition to the fact that radio stations and Catholic schools have been persecuted and closed by the government. The executive of Daniel Ortega sees in the members of the church one of the most influential sectors of the opposition. Just as Ortega has taken it upon himself to persecute and diminish the political opposition, he has also targeted congregation members. For example, today, several bishops and priests have been arrested.