Nicaragua's Father Ernesto Cardenal dies at 95

Ernesto Cardenal Credit Mattis Kaminer  Shutterstock Fr. Ernesto Cardenal. | Mattis Kaminer/Shutterstock.

Fr. Ernesto Cardenal, a Nicaraguan poet and Marxist liberation theology activist whose priestly faculties were long suspended for his assuming a public office, died Sunday at the age of 95.

Fr. Cardenal died March 1 after a brief hospitalization.

His wake will be at the Mount of Olives funeral home, and a funeral Mass will be said March 3 Managua's Immaculate Conception Cathedral.

Fr. Cardenal was born Jan. 20, 1925 in Granada, Nicaragua. He studied literature and was for a time at the Trappist's Gethsemani monastery in Kentucky, but he returned to Nicaragua and was ordained a priest in 1965.

The following year he founded an artists colony on an archipelago in Lake Nicaragua.

When the Sandinista National Liberation Front ousted Nicaragua's Somoza dictatorship in 1979, Fr. Cardenal was named Minister of Culture in the new government. Canon law forbids clerics from assuming public offices which entail a participation in the exercise of civil power.

St. John Paul II publicly reprimanded Fr. Cardenal when he visited Nicaragua in 1983.

The priest continued to serve as Nicaragua's culture minister until 1987, and he later distanced himself from the FSLN.

He was absolved of all canonical censures one year ago. The Nicaraguan apostolic nunciature announced Feb. 18, 2019 that Pope Francis had accepted the request recently made by Fr. Cardenal "to be readmitted to the exercise of the priestly ministry."

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