Latest News

Nicaraguan priest who defied Vatican dies aged 82

Fernando Cardenal was education minister in the Sandinista government (Wiki/Lucien)

Fr Fernando Cardenal, a priest involved in the Sandinista movement in Nicaragua, has died aged 82.

Fr Cardenal was suspended from the priesthood after refusing to stand down from his post as education minister in the Left-wing government.

The Jesuit was was one of many priests in the Central American country who supported the rebels’ against the government of Anastasio Somoza in the 1970s.

When they overthrew Somoza in 1979, Fr Cardenal joined the government as education minister, which was opposed by the US-backed Contras, and led a successful literacy campaign in Nicaragua.

He was a supporter of Liberation Theology, a religious movement accused of mixing Christianity with Marxist principles, and said he would be “committing a grave sin” to leave his position in the Sandinista government.

“I cannot conceive of a God that would ask me to abandon my commitment to the people,” he explained in an open letter in 1984, after being expelled from the Jesuit order.

Fr Cardenal was eventually readmitted to the order in 1996.