A priest who famously rebuffed a papal order to quit Nicaragua's leftist government has died in Managua. Fernando Cardenal was 82 and long back in the good graces of the church.

The Jesuit was a practitioner of liberation theology who joined the Sandinista rebels after they toppled the dictatorship of Anastasio Somoza in 1979. He led a widely praised literacy campaign and then served as education minister.

Pope John Paul II told Cardenal and other priests — including Cardenal's brother Ernesto — to quit politics. When they refused, he suspended them from the priesthood in 1984.

Cardenal left politics in 1990 and was reinstated as a Jesuit in 1997 — an extremely unusual step.

He spent his last years leading a Jesuit organization running schools in poor parts of the country.