Pope Francis lifts suspension on Nicaraguan priest, poet

The Vatican's ambassador to Nicaragua says Pope Francis has lifted the suspension imposed in 1983 on Nicaraguan priest and poet Ernesto Cardenal.

A statement from nuncio Waldemar Stanislaw Sommertag Monday says Francis removed the canonical censures imposed on Cardenal. It says the decision came after the 94-year-old Cardenal recently made the request through the nuncio.

Pope John Paul II suspended Cardenal from his priestly duties because he had become culture minister in the leftist Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega after the rebels toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza. John Paul II said that priests could not assume political posts.

Monday's statement noted that Cardenal had respected the suspension for 35 years and long ago abandoned politics.

Cardenal's personal assistant Luz Marina Acosta says Sommertag celebrated Mass with the ailing Cardenal on Sunday.