Miguel D'Escoto
Miguel D'Escoto in 2009 when he was United Nations General Assembly president Reuters

Pope Francis has restored Nicaraguan priest Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann to his ministry in the Maryknoll order after a 30-year suspension due to his political activity in the country's leftist Sandinista government.

D'Escoto was banned from celebrating mass by late Pope John Paull II for ignoring a Canon Law chapter that prohibits priests from holding government jobs. The Los Angeles born-priest, 81, had written to Pope Francis asking to be able to celebrate mass again "before dying".

The Vatican's Cardinal Fernando Filoni announced that the Holy Father "has given his benevolent assent that Father Miguel D'Escoto Brockmann be absolved from the canonical censure inflicted upon him" and instructed the US-based Maryknoll Society to reintegrate him into the "ministerial priesthood".

The Father said he was "happy to be able to celebrate mass again, I'm really pleased" although he stressed that his punishment had been unfair.

D'Escoto backed the socialist Sandinista National Liberation Front in its struggle against the dictatorship of the Somoza family - which ruled Nicaragua for four decades - and became foreign minister from 1979 to 1990, when the Sandinistas lost political power in the Central American country.

As adherent of the Liberation Theology, D'Escoto believed in the importance of combating poverty and achieve social justice. Since the 1950s and 1960s, priests mainly belonging to the Jesuit order put their emphasis on a Marxist-like emancipation of oppressed people, particularly the deprived from their rich oppressors.

During a visit to Central America, Pope John II admonished D'Escoto for his political activity and delivered the greatest blow to a movement which to many people represented a glimmer of hope in war-torn Latin America.

Accused of being too independent, leftist and political, the Polish pope punished Liberation Theology representatives with disciplinary actions, removed the movement's activists such as Leonardo Boff and Gustavo Gutierrez, and personally selected the successor to Pedro Arrupe, general of the Jesuit order.

In 1984, D'Escoto was suspended along with two brothers, Jesuit father Fernando Cardenal, Sandinista education minister, and Trappist Father Ernesto Cardenal, culture minister.

D'Escoto was also president of the UN General Assembly from September 2008 to September 2009.