by Humberto Belli
Published by GOOD NEWS PUB, Westchester, IL .........1985
In July 1979, when a bloody revolution swept away the forty two-year-old Somocista dictatorship in Nicaragua, many eyes looked expectantly to this small Central American nation - especially Christian eyes.
An uninspiring, corrupt, and decadent dictatorship had been overthrown by the massive participation of Nicaraguans from all parts of society. Even more notable, the revolution had been won with the collaboration of Marxists and Christians on a scale unsurpassed by any contemporary revolution.
Thousands of Christians, including. some [Roman] Catholic priests had fought with the Marxist guerrillas. The influential [Roman] Catholic bishops had issued pastoral letters denouncing the government's violations of human rights and spoke about the people's right to rebel in the face of prolonged, unbearable tyranny.
In many ways the Nicaraguan revolution seemed to defy skepticism about the possibility of positive social change in Latin America and to challenge previous judgments about the nature of Marxist revolution and the incompatibility of Christianity and Marxism.
Many among the victorious leaders of the revolution, known as Sandinistas, had expressed sympathy for Marxism-Leninism.
But four [Roman] Catholic priests held positions in the government - minister of foreign affairs, minister of culture, minister of social welfare, and leader of the Sandinista youth movement.
And the Sandinista government promised to follow policies based on the principles of political pluralism, a mixed state-free market economy, nonalignment with either the United States or the Soviet Union, and full respect for human rights, especially the rights of free expression and religious freedom. For many people inside and outside Nicaragua the revolution .............