From Sat Mar 2 20:00:15 2002
Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2002 14:04:00 -0600 (CST)
From: NicaNet <>
Subject: Nicaragua Network Hotline
Article: 134268
To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Christian base communities challenge religious leaders

Nicaragua Network Hotline, 11 February 2002

In a stinging message delivered to high-ranking dignitaries of all the churches, the Base Christian Communities of Condega claimed that religious leaders everywhere have not only failed to condemn the rank injustice, poverty and misery generated by the powerful classes through their current neo-liberal model, but indeed actively blessed them. Bearing the signatures of over 200 local leaders, the communities' document expressed the concern felt by many ordinary people at the lack of prophetic leadership among the clergy, whether of the still-predominant Roman Catholic Church or of the widespread evangelical faith communities. Where are the pastors who care for their people, who accompany and guide them in their hours of darkness, it asked, when 60% of the population don't have enough to eat, when the majority of the people can't pay for their health care needs, nor for their children's schooling? When we have 80% of the country's inhabitants effectively out of work?

The document singled out Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo. As head of the Catholic Church in Nicaragua, he wields enormous power, so much so that many claim him to be the ultimate arbiter of her political destiny. The signatories begged him and his colleagues of every church to play your true role as guides and shepherds, and to stop disfiguring the image of Jesus of Nazareth. We beseech you all, the document continued, to put yourself at the side of the impoverished majority of this country, and to abandon your complacency in the face of such sin. We, the Christian people organized in smaller and larger ecclesiastical communities throughout history, have known well how to judge pastors and presidents as they come and go if they distance themselves from impoverished and humble people.

The leaders recommended that everyone read the Gospel of Mathew 25, 31—46 where, at the Last Judgement, people will be directed to heaven or to hell depending on whether they have fed the hungry, visited the imprisoned, clothed the naked, etc. The leaders also called on the laity of all churches to abandon their passivity in confronting this situation of sin, and asked them to join with them in denouncing it.