Just when you thought you’d heard it all, along comes a surprising conversion story that illustrates, once again, the wonders God can work. The subject: one-time Marxist President of Nicaragua (now President once again), Daniel Ortega:

Ortega took office again as President of Nicaragua in January 2007, but before participating in any official protocol upon his arrival in Mexico, he instead went to the Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe to thank the Virgin Mary for helping him return to the presidency.

“We come from a Christian and Marian people who venerate the Virgin of Guadalupe,” said the Nicaraguan president.

From 1979 to 1990, the Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional — the famous “Sandinistas”– governed Nicaragua under Marxist-Leninist guidelines, and engaged in a permanent civil war against the “Contras,” an armed group supported by the United States as part of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. The Sandinistas were ousted by democratic elections in 1990, not coincidentally the same year the Soviet Union and the entire Communist bloc crumbled.

And it was not until 16 years later that Ortega returned to the presidency of Nicaragua — no longer as a Marxist guerrilla, but as a pragmatic and conciliatory politician, open to the new world reality of economic globalization.

In his revolutionary years, Ortega was a deadly enemy of the “hierarchical” Church (headed in Nicaragua by Cardinal Miguel Obando y Bravo), and a close ally of the “theology of liberation” then popular among some inside the Church. The followers of liberation theology constituted the backbone of the social armed movement that took the Sandinistas to power at the end of 1979. These same followers of the “popular Church” verbally — and almost physically — assaulted Pope John Paul II during his 1983 visit to Nicaragua.

Nevertheless, Ortega returned to power in Nicaragua with a completely reconstructed image, adapted to the new times. He reconciled with the Catholic Church and was personally welcomed by Cardinal Obando y Bravo, his former enemy. The cardinal presided at Ortega’s ecclesiastical marriage last year.

Let’s keep him and the people of Nicaragua in our prayers.

More from Beliefnet and our partners
Close Ad