Guest Column
Bishop Sergio Mendez-Arceo on Church & Society in Nicaragua

July-August 1987Rev. Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J.

Sergio Mendez-Arceo was the Bishop of Cuernavaca, Mexico, from 1952 to 1983, when he retired at age 75. Bishop Mendez-Arceo has distinguished himself among the Latin American hierarchy as a friend and champion of the poor. The Rev. Joseph E. Mulligan, S.J., who works with the Jesuits' Instituto Historico Centroamericano in Managua, Nicaragua, interviewed him in Managua.

Mulligan: How long have you been interested in Nicaragua?

Mendez-Arceo: For a long time, but in a special way since the victory over Somoza in 1979. Many years ago I received my doctorate in Church history from the Gregorian University in Rome, and my thesis focused particularly on the Church in Latin America.

I have kept in touch with what is happening in Nicaragua through my visits and reading. I have discussed things with some of the leaders of the Nicaraguan government, and I have a great deal of contact with priests and other pastoral workers here. I always request a visit with the archbishop, Cardinal Obando y Bravo, and he always grants my request. I also keep in touch with the Apostolic Nuncio and some of the other bishops. All of these contacts have been very good sources of information for me about what is happening.

For a long time I have maintained that between socialism and Christianity there can be and should be understanding. The Christian churches should accompany the revolutionary processes in Latin America. These movements arise because social conflicts cry out to Heaven, and the churches cannot turn a deaf ear to them.

M: Do you see a relationship between the values of the Nicaraguan revolution and the values of the Gospel?


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