Nicaragua - (North America)

Information about Nicaragua

120254 square kilometres
Roman Catholic 95%, Protestant 5%
Christian (%)
Protestant (%)
Reformed (%)

The evangelization of Nicaragua by the Catholic Church accompanied the conquest in 1523, at first by force, later by indoctrination, especially by the Franciscans. The diocese of Nicaragua included the province of Costa Rica during the colonial period.
Pirates and corsairs from Prot lands, especially England, such as Drake, Hawkins, and Morgan, made contacts with the inhabitants of some Caribbean islands and the coastal areas of Central America, which were used as bases for provisions and refuge. By 1630 Puritans conquered two islands and established Cape Gracias a Dios on the Nicaraguan coast. After the conquest of Jamaica by Cromwell’s forces in 1655, such incursions of Prot were made easier.
The English presence was motivated primarily by economic reasons. However, chaplains accompanied the traders who established centers on the Misquito Coast and became allies with the Misquito Indians in their struggle against the Spanish. In 1678 England assumed the protectorate of the Misquito Indians, which was maintained until 1850. Permanent English populations were established by 1730 in Rio Negro, Bluefields, and Cape Gracias a Dios.
In 1705 Angl priests started catechizing some of the indigenous inhabitants. Nathan Price was sent by the Society for the Propagation of the Gospel to evangelize the Misquito people, and died among them in 1748. In 1815 an Angl cathedral was built in Belize, in whose archives is registered the coronation of Federico, king of the Misquito Coast in Nicaragua. The diocese of Belize included the whole Caribbean coast, and eventually all of Central America.
From 1824 to 1838 Nicaragua became part of the Central American Federation, whose constitution guaranteed the RCath Church as the only religion “with the exclusion of the public exercise of any other.” According to the “Concordato” signed by the government of Nicaragua and Rome in 1862, the Roman church maintained its official status until 1892, education conformed to its doctrine, and the Catholic religion supported by the state. However, with the advent of the Liberal government in 1893, the new constitution established the separation of church and state, the secularization of cemeteries and matrimony, and the spoliation of much of the church’s income. With the fall of the liberal government, the separation of church and state continued, though the Conservative governments from 1912 to 1928 favored the Catholic Church, and the expelled monastic orders were permitted to return.
During the Somoza family regime, from 1936, salaries were paid to the Catholic priests, and other financial assistance was given. With parental consent, the RCath Church was allowed to teach religion at public schools. Only after 1969 did its difficulties with the state begin.
The tendency toward liberalization made room for the arrival of the Moravians from Germany beginning in 1849 and has continued to the present. Responsibility for the mission changed to the North American Moravian branch during World War I. Besides the Moravians representatives of the Bible Societies campaigned in the country, e.g., Francisco Penzotti (1892, 1894). Other groups followed: the Central American Mission of C. Scofield in 1900, and several Pent missionaries from the Assemblies of God.



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