Pope Francis has revoked the 'suspension a divinis' of Fr. Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, who was in 1984 barred from exercising his priestly ministry because he had taken political office.
The gesture of generosity was made after Fr. d'Escoto, 81, had sent a letter expressing his desire to “celebrate the Holy Eucharist again before dying.”
The priest had been suspended for holding office in Nicaragua's Sandinista government as foreign minister, a post he held until 1990. In 2007, he returned to work for the government and between 2008 and 2009 was president of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
Vatican Radio recalled that in 1984 the priest accepted the sentence imposed by St. John Paul II, even though he remained a member of the Maryknoll Congregation, “without being able to participate in any pastoral activity. For some years now the priest has abandoned his political endeavors.”
Canon law bars priests from holding political office.
“Pope Francis responded positively to his petition and asked the Superior General of the Institute to accompany his brother in the process of re-integration into the sacerdotal ministry,” Vatican Radio said.
Fr. d’Escoto was born in 1933 in Los Angeles. He was ordained a priest in 1961, and in 1977 joined the Sandinista National Liberation Front, a communist movement that overthrew Nicaraguan president Anastasio Somoza in 1979, taking control of the country.
In 1984, after the Sandinistas convoked and won many important political elections, the priest – a well-known proponent of Marxist liberation theology – became Daniel Ortega´s Minister of Foreign Relations. That year, John Paul II suspended him 'a divinis', preventing him from celebrating the Mass.
During the period from 1985 to 1990, in which d’Escoto was part of the government, the Church suffered pressure of the communist regime. One of those cases was in 1988 when a report from the Nicaraguan Permanent Committee of Human Rights revealed the intention of the government to convert, by force, important people within the Church to “informants” for the government.
At the same time, in November of that year, the Sandinista authorities prohibited Bishop Bismark Carballo from saying Mass in the areas affected by Hurricane Joan. Moreover, a campaign was launched to discredit Cardinal Miguel Obando, then a member of the National Reconciliation Commission.
The Ortega Regime focused on repressing political opposition and shut down critical media outlets.
Years before, d´Escoto founded the publisher Orbis Books, which launched Gustavo Gutiérrez´s “Liberation Theology. Perspectives.”
Later, in 2007, he was again named by Ortega to be a consultant for Border Affairs and International Relations for the new Sandinista regime.