Latin America & Caribbean

Pope reinstates suspended Nicaraguan priest D'Escoto

File photo of Father Miguel D'Escoto from 29 August 2009
Image caption Father Miguel D'Escoto said he was happy to be able to celebrate mass again

The Vatican says Pope Francis has reinstated a Nicaraguan priest who was suspended thirty years ago for taking up office in Nicaragua's left-wing Sandinista government.

Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann had been banned from celebrating mass by Pope John Paul II for defying a church ban on priests holding government jobs.

Fr D'Escoto served as Nicaragua's foreign minister from 1979-1990.

He welcomed the news and said his punishment had been unfair.

Fr D'Escoto, 81, had written to Pope Francis asking to be allowed to celebrate mass before he dies.

'Incompatible actions'

On Monday, the Vatican announced that the Pope had agreed to the request and asked Fr D'Escoto's superior in the missionary Maryknoll order to help reintroduce him into the priestly ministry.

Fr D'Escoto said he was "happy to be able to celebrate mass again, I'm really pleased".

He also said that while he believed his suspension had been unfair, he had accepted it because from the perspective of those who punished him, it had been done "with justice and legality".

Pope John Paul II suspended Fr D'Escoto and three other priests in 1984 arguing that their political work was incompatible with their priestly duties.

Their suspension was seen as part of a wider Vatican push against liberation theology, the movement to involve the Church in social activism.

Fr D'Escoto was appointed foreign minister in 1979 after the Sandinista's successful revolution against the dictatorship of the Somoza family, which ruled Nicaragua for four decades.

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