• Fernando Cardenal
    Fernando Cardenal

Father Fernando Cardenal, a Jesuit priest who has been active in Latin America for more than 40 years, will give a lecture titled “A Jesuit Priest in Revolution” on Feb. 3, 2009, at Southwestern University. The lecture will begin at 4 p.m. at the Howry Center (Building 14 on the campus map) and will be followed by a reception.

After completing his Jesuit studies in 1969, Cardenal joined colleagues in Colombia, where he lived in a poverty-stricken neighborhood in the city of Medellin. His experiences in Colombia led him to dedicate his life to the liberation of the poor and to the struggle for social justice. Shortly after he returned to his native Nicaragua in the early 1970s, he was recruited by the Sandinista Front for National Liberation that ousted the Somoza dictatorship in 1979. During the Sandinista government in the 1980s, Cardenal served as minister of education and national coordinator of a crusade that helped raise the country’s literacy rate from 49 percent to 87 percent.

In 1984, the Jesuits expelled Cardenal from their order because of his work within the revolution. Despite his expulsion, he continued to live in his Jesuit community and to live out his vows. In 1997, after reviewing Cardenal’s case, the superior general reinstated him to the Jesuits, based on the fact that Cardenal’s actions were a clear example of conscientious objection. It is the only case in more than 460 years of Jesuit history in which a priest expelled from the Jesuits was reinstated.

Cardenal is now director of Fe y Alegria in Nicaragua (http://www.feyalegria.org/), which seeks to bring education and sustainable development to poor and marginal urban and rural communities. The organization has been active in several Latin American countries for more than 50 years.

In August 2008, Cardenal published his memoirs titled Sacerdote en la Revolucion, a personal reflection on ethical, religious, political, and social issues affecting Nicaragua, Latin America, and the world over the past 40 years.

During his Feb. 3 lecture at Southwestern, which will be delivered in Spanish and translated into English, Cardenal will speak about his life commitment to liberation theology, social justice and popular education. The event is sponsored by the Departments of History, Political Science, Spanish, and Religion and Philosophy; the Programs in International Studies and the Latin American Studies; Southwestern’s Global Citizens Fund; and the Fleming Lectures in Religion. For more information, contact Mark Everingham, visiting associate professor of political science, at 512-863-1658 or everingm@southwestern.edu.