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Soviet newspaper criticizes pope’s Latin America tour

February 9, 1985

MOSCOW (AP) _ The government newspaper Izvestia on Saturday criticized Pope John Paul II, saying that on his Latin American tour he characterized leftist revolutionary support as ″an anti-Christian deed.″

It also said the pontiff called for ″Christian humility,″ but did not condemn the ″predatory policy of U.S. transnational corporations,″ the repressions of some Latin American governments and ″the outright imperialist siege of Nicaragua by the United States and Central American puppets obedient to it.″

John Paul on Tuesday ended a 12-day tour that included visits to Venezuela, Ecuador, Peru and Trinidad-Tobago and returned to Rome.

″Though during his tour of Latin American countries Pope John Paul II urged the Latin American clergy to dissociate themselves from politics, his very tour had an obvious political nature,″ Izvestia said.

It said ″conservative circles″ in the Roman Catholic church have been opposing support within Catholic ranks of ″Liberation Theology,″ and added: ″The pope made it plain that any declaration of clergymen in favor of the revolutionary people is regarded by him as an anti-Christian deed.″

Izvestia also criticized the pontiff’s call for priests holding government posts to resign those positions or ″defrock themselves.″

The Vatican’s actions ″coincide with the intensification of Washington’s anti-Nicaraguan provocations,″ it said.

Last month, the Vatican told four Nicaraguan Catholic priests who hold high positions in the left-wing Sandinista government that they could not serve as priests as long as they hold the posts. But they were not expelled from the church.