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Elderly priest, suspended for involvement in Nicaraguan revolution, reinstated by Pope

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
8/5/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Priest wrote Vatican he wanted to celebrate Mass again 'before dying'

Father Miguel D'Escoto, 29 years after he was suspended from priestly duties for his involvement in Nicaragua's revolutionary government in the Seventies has been reinstated by Pope Francis. The 81-year-old priest had sent a written request to the Vatican that he wanted the chance to celebrate Mass again "before dying."

Father Miguel D'Escoto's involvement in Nicaraguan politics ran counter to the church ban on clergy holding government positions. He was suspended by Pope John Paul II in 1985.

Father Miguel D'Escoto's involvement in Nicaraguan politics ran counter to the church ban on clergy holding government positions. He was suspended by Pope John Paul II in 1985.

Highlights

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
8/5/2014 (2 years ago)

Published in Americas

Keywords: Father Migel D'Escoto, reinstatement, Nicaragua, revolution, Pope Francis


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - In response, Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect for the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, signed the letter lifting D'Escoto's suspension.

"The Holy Father has given his benevolent assent that Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann be absolved from the canonical censure inflicted upon him, and entrusts him to the superior general of the institute (Maryknoll) for the purpose of accompanying him in the process of reintegration into the ministerial priesthood," a press release from the Maryknoll Fathers and Brothers, quoted the Vatican's letter as saying.

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D'Escoto led a distinguished career; in 1961, D'Escoto went on to found Orbis Books, Maryknoll's theological publishing division, and became an official with the World Council of Churches.

D'Escoto involvement in Nicaraguan politics, however, ran counter to the church ban on clergy holding government positions. He was suspended by Pope John Paul II in 1985.
D'Escoto served as the Republic of Nicaragua's Minister for Foreign Affairs for more than a decade. He currently acts as Senior Adviser on Foreign Affairs to President Daniel Ortega Saavedra. In spite of this, he remains a member of the Sandinista National Liberation Front, or FSLN, a political movement rooted in Marxist philosophy and previously held ties to the Soviet Communist party.

"If you tell me that there is a revolution somewhere and the church is against it, I will say, 'What else is new?'" D'Escoto said in an interview with America Magazine in 1985.

On the topic of church elders who typically stay out of such debates, "I mean, what would be newsworthy is to tell me that the church is for it. So in Nicaragua the new thing is, and the question is: How come so much of the church is in favor of it [the revolution]? How come so many of the priests, even of the bishops?"

There are similarities between D'Escoto's life and times to those of the current pontiff. Pope Francis also lived through a dictatorship in the 1970s in his native Argentina, but his role in the country's political arena was less defined than D'Escoto's was in Nicaragua. Pope Francis at that time reportedly worked from behind the scenes to provide shelter for people at risk of persecution by the government.

The pope's decision to lift D'Escoto's suspension may have something to do with this shared experience of political turmoil, Father James Martin suggested to journalists.

"It is a sign not only of generosity and a desire for reconciliation," Martin said, "but also a recognition that many of those who were involved in such political efforts were trying their best to help God's poor."

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