The image went around the world, and was the symbol of the inflexible of a pontificate. On March 4, 1983, John Paul II arrived in Nicaragua, and his Minister of Culture, the priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal, received him kneeling. With a hard gesture and an index finger, Wojtyla publicly rebuked the religious for being part (also his brother Fernando, another priest) of the Sandinista Government.
The Pope who hated the communists could not stand two priests, members of the Theology of Liberation, being part of a ‘red’ Government. “You must regularize your situation,” Wojtyla admonished him. Cardinal could only shut up, smile, and move on. That kneeling priest, who never put down his ideas, has just died, at 95, in Managua.
Ernesto Cardenal was never a cure to use. Poet, politician, intellectual recognized throughout the world, was condemned by the Vatican a few months after that visit of Wojtyla, and he had to wait 35 years to be rehabilitated by the Church. He had to be Francisco, the first Latin American Pope, who would again allow him to celebrate the Eucharist.
A moral guide
Condolences were not long in coming. The Nicaraguan writer, and Cervantes 2017 award, Sergio Ramírez, affirmed that “when Ernesto Cardenal died (I lose an older brother, a close friend and neighbor of many years, a moral guide, a literary model, and with him he leaves an essential part of my own story. “
The death was announced by his companion, the poet Gioconda Belli. “I am writing to warn you that Ernesto Cardenal, our great poet, has just died at 95, after a life of dedication to poetry and the struggle for freedom and justice,” Belli said, adding that the poet will be buried in the community he founded, Solentiname, and invited the Nicaraguan people to participate, this Monday, at the funeral in the Managua Cathedral in the Managua Cathedral.
I don’t love dictators
On the other hand, the auxiliary bishop of Managua, Silvio Báez, who according to some sources gave the extreme anointing to Cardinal, gave his last goodbye to the friend, Ernesto Cardenal, who can now sing his Psalm 15 before God: ‘There is no saying outside of you. I don’t worship movie stars or political leaders and I don’t love dictators. “
“My poetry has a social and political commitment, rather, revolutionary. I have been a poet, priest and revolutionary”, was defined in 2012, being recognized with the Reina Sofía Ibero-American Poetry Prize.
Merton and Solentiname
Born on January 20, 1925 in Granada, in one of the most respectable families in the country, the future priest grew up in one of the most emblematic houses in the conservative capital of Nicaragua. Although his family had decided for him the law career, his family surrendered to his literary vocation, traveling to Mexico and the United States. However, in 1957, Ernesto Cardenal entered the Trappist monastery of Gethsemaní, in Kentucky. There the religious met his greatest literary influence: Thomas Merton, who was his novice master. His influence was decisive for the foundation of the Solentiname community, where he will be buried this week.
Solentiname became, since its foundation in 1966, a refuge for guerrilla leaders fighting against the Somoza dictatorship. After the triumph of the revolution in 1979, Cardinal was appointed Minister of Culture, a position in which he remained until 1987. His brother Fernando was head of Education until 1990.
“My faith is in Christ, not in the Vatican”
“Christianity as we see it in the Vatican, is not what Christ wanted for the church; but my faith is in Christ, not in the Vatican; if the Vatican departs from Christ, I continue with Christ,” Cardinal explained to the BBC in 2007. However, the arrival of Francisco and his idea of a poor and poor church brought the theologian back to the Vatican dome. And if John Paul II condemned him, Bergoglio rehabilitated the revolutionary poet.
The same did not happen politically. Disenchanted by Sandinista corruption, Cardinal turned away from Daniel Ortega, becoming his greatest critic after his return to power in 2007. In fact, the poet’s last months were marked by increasing persecution. Just a year ago, the Trappist priest demanded the departure of Ortega and his wife, Rosario Murillo. “We simply want the presidential couple to leave, there is nothing to talk about … They should know what is happening without me telling them. I have no freedom to say it, there is no freedom of any kind. Anyone can suffer repression. Nor would I be free either “
However, knowing the death of the poet, the Government has decreed three days of national mourning, calling Cardinal “glory and pride” of Nicaragua.
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