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Nicaragua: cardinal, bishop at odds over President Ortega

August 19, 2011

President Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua--a leftist who ruled Nicaragua from 1979 to 1990 and was elected president again in 2007--is making extensive use of Christianity in his reelection campaign.

Ortega, who clashed with the Vatican and the nation’s hierarchy in the 1980s, was married in the Church in 2005 and has since attended Mass regularly. 85-year-old Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo, who opposed Ortega in the 1980s and retired as Archbishop of Managua in 2005, has become a prominent Ortega supporter.

Ortega’s campaign slogan (“Christian, Socialist, and in Solidarity”) and frequent references to God in speeches, as well as his wife’s comparison of a Sandinista rally to a Mass, have earned criticism from many Catholics, however.

“The use of biblical words and Church symbols is in bad taste,” said Bishop Juan Abelardo Mata Guevara of Esteli. “They are messing around with religion and the Christian faith.”


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