How long?

From Ten Reasons with my emphases:

You really can’t make this stuff up. Ernesto Cardenal, the Jesuit Marxist liberation theologian who served in the violent Marxist-Leninist Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega in Nicaragua during the 1980s, is visiting Xavier University. Cardenal was captured in a now famous photograph asking for Pope John Paul II’s blessing as the Holy Father arrived in Managua in 1983 and instead got a stern reprimand. He was later suspended from the priesthood. Details of his visit are available on the always curious Xavier University activities calendar:

Father Ernesto Cardenal, one of the greatest living poets from Latin America, is a priest from Nicaragua. He was an active member of the Sandinista movement. As minister of culture he was also one of three priests to hold a position in the Sandinista government. The Academic Service Learning Semesters and Voices of Solidarity will be hosting a bilingual poetry reading to introduce Fr. Cardenal’s latest book: The Origin of Species and Other Poems. The event will take place in the afternoon.The event is also promoted on the website of Xavier University’s Bellarmine Chapel, home parish of the head of the troubled archdiocesan Social Action office. In 1999, the Miami Herald published a “Where Are They Now?” piece on Cardenal and other Sandinista radicals.

Who knows?  Perhaps Ernesto Cardenal will stand up and tell the crowd how wrong he was back then, how he repents of ever having been involved in that compromised and distorted “theology” and hopes that young people will avoid making the same mistakes he did.

Who knows?

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in SESSIUNCULA. Bookmark the permalink.


  1. skull kid says:

    So, did he get his blessing from the Holy Father?

  2. SusanfromCalifornia says:

    One would hope he repented. However with the election of Obama, it seems that liberation theology”social justice”, socialism, marism, communism got a second wind, not only in this country and abroad but in the church as well.

  3. Mike says:

    When some critics of JPII forget scenes such as this one, they simply don’t do justice to the pontificate of John Paul. JPII, with the help of Cardinal Ratzinger, dealt liberation theology some severe scholastic head shots that, with the help of the Soviet Union imploding, put Marxist-Leninist philosophy, and its Christian heresaic formulations, into aisle five of K-Mart, intellectually speaking, that is.

  4. Geoffrey says:

    Well said, Mike!

    I love this picture. Venerable John Paul the Great doing a little house-cleaning! :-)

  5. purple0915 says:

    Father Ernesto Cardenal is one of my favorite priest too. I usually read his works during free time. He’s a great man and a lot of people really admire him. This picture is really memorable to him for sure.

    Jones Outlet

    The picture shows that the the late Venerable John Paul is telling him something. Maybe its about repent.


  6. TNCath says:

    Years after this incident, Father Cardenal that he said that moment of the Pope John Paul II’s scolding him on the tarmac of the airport in Manaugua was “meaningless.”

    I remember watching this moment on TV as a kid and actually wishing the Pope was going to slap Father Cardenal.

  7. M. K. says:

    Point of information: Ernesto Cardenal was never a Jesuit. He spent some time as a Trappist (at Gethsemani) in the 1950s before studying theology in Mexico and being ordained as a diocesan priest in Managua in 1965. I do not know where (or whether) he is presently incardinated, but Ernesto Cardenal has never been a member of the Society of Jesus.

    Ernesto’s brother Fernando Cardenal is a Jesuit – the two of them are often confused or conflated with one another, so the error isn’t surprising. Nonetheless, an error is an error and should be corrected.

  8. daniwcca says:

    Is it me, or does he look like he is laughing at the Holy Father? Will be praying he recants.

  9. Faith says:

    but his poetry is so poignant. .. give him that

  10. Kerry says:

    Criticizing the ‘liberation theology’ nonsense, a Russian (who or in what context I forget… hear the Russian accent if you can) said, “What! Church weeth no Jeezus?! Jeezus Christ would roll over in grave if was in grave!” Heh.

  11. irishgirl says:

    Father Cardenal looks old in this picture with John Paul II-he must be really up there in years now!
    I remember when the Holy Father did this ‘finger-shaking’! Didn’t he do the same thing to Daniel Ortega when he knelt before him on the same visit?

  12. shane says:

    The Sandinistas were pretty nasty people, as this NYT report from 1988 shows:

    As the Sandinistas and contras prepare for full-scale peace talks, labor conflict in Managua is reaching its highest level since the 1979 revolution.

    Several thousand workers are on strike, demanding that their wages be raised to a level at least equivalent to what they enjoyed before this year, when a new currency was introduced and the buying power of wages dropped sharply.

    The Government said restrictive economic measures were necessary as a shock treatment for a prostrate economy, but many workers complained that they were being asked to sacrifice too much.

    […] Union officials say that at least 4,000 construction workers are on strike. The Government puts the figure at only 500. It has declared the strike illegal and told all the strikers they are dismissed.

    […]Labor Ministry officials are making no comment on the strikes. Union leaders say the Ministry refuses to deal with them because they are anti-Sandinista.[…]

    Harsh economic measures imposed in February, including the introduction of a new currency, have brought dramatic declines in the real income of many workers. Wages and prices are strictly controlled by the Government, and collective bargaining between unions and management is illegal.

    […] We are now in an alliance that includes the Conservative Party, the most reactionary party in this country,” said the Socialist Party leader, Domingo Sanchez Salgado, perhaps the country’s best-known trade union figure. ”We can live with that alliance because it is based on mutual respect. The Sandinistas do not respect. They only dictate and expect instant obedience.”

  13. benedetta says:

    Haven’t read his poetry but I do like the poetry of St. John of the Cross, Hopkins, and Merton. Actually spent a good deal of time on the poetry of Hopkins in college though one could not acknowledge in that atmosphere the extent to which his writings were inspired by faith. It was permissible to endlessly speculate, even without foundation, about other things. Ahh, the days. The nostalgia.

    Speaking of nostalgia for college days, liberation theology was en vogue then too. I guess I could still use my deconstructionist skills to analyse this priest’s poetry. I wonder though as a Sandinista, how was he, and what would be the criteria for that. How does it square with the liberal creed that anyone who takes a stand against institutionalized, legalized injustice to stand up for the vulnerable, informed by a religious conscience, must be immediately branded an “extremist” and ostracized?

  14. Mark R says:

    In Latin America competing ideologies — at least in Cardenal’s day — should be taken with a grain of salt. It is the means by which one faction of the oligarchy to get the upper hand over the others.

  15. PostCatholic says:

    The article makes a few factual errors. I have met Rev. Cardenal.

    1. Cardenal isn’t a Jesuit. He was ordained a diocesan in Nicaragua, entered Gethsemani Abbey in Kentucky for a while, and then founded a semi-monastic community in the islands of Lake Nicaragua.
    2. Cardenal served the Junta government that was a predecessor to the Ortega presidency, and quarreled often and publicly with Ortega, who has often returned the same uh, affection.
    2. He was scolded in the picture above by JPII for his disobedience in not resigning as Minister of Culture in the Sandinista Junta government, not over his liberation theology. It was that role that had him on the runway in Managua to meet the pope, whose finger-wagging was accompanied with the words “You must make right your obligations to the church” or something like that. Although in fairness it certainly be said JPII was no fan of Marxism or Liberation Theology and might very well have been animated by distaste for that, too.

    Perhaps at Xavier he’ll be talking about his poetry and not liberation theology? He was, after all, a Nobel laureate nominee.

  16. PostCatholic says:

    I sure didn’t enumerate that correctly!

  17. He was scolded in the picture above by JPII for his disobedience in not resigning as Minister of Culture in the Sandinista Junta government, not over his liberation theology.

    Liberation theology weds Christianity to Marxist politics, so you can see how one of its theologians thought joining the government was a natural progression. In any event, your comment hardly addresses a “factual error.” Pointing to his dispute with Ortega is like distinguishing Trotsky from Stalin; in both cases the men were committed and unrepentant Marxists. As to him not being a Jesuit, the post has since been corrected.

Comments are closed.