Nicaraguan poet-priest Cardenal leaves hospital, thanks pope

MANAGUA, Nicaragua (AP) — Renowned Nicaraguan poet and priest Ernesto Cardenal was released from a hospital Wednesday two weeks after he entered for treatment for an infection that provoked other ailments.

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Luz Marina Acosta, assistant to the 94-year-old Cardenal, told The Associated Press that he is at home and off antibiotics and oxygen.

"Although he is always very weak, we hope he continues to recover," she said.

Acosta also revealed that Cardenal sent a letter to Pope Francis thanking him for lifting his 35-year suspension from the priesthood. Cardenal received news of the decision Saturday on his sickbed.

In the letter, begun "My dear Pope Francis," Cardenal said that he had just celebrated Mass — for the first time since the 1983 suspension — together with the Vatican's ambassador to Nicaragua.

"I would also like to thank you for your blessing, which I receive with love," Cardenal said in his missive.

Cardenal was suspended by then-Pope John Paul II for violating a prohibition on priests holding political office by serving as culture minister under the first Sandinista government of President Daniel Ortega.

When the suspension was lifted, the Vatican noted in a statement that Cardenal abstained from pastoral activities during the decades when he was under sanction and "had long ago abandoned all political commitment."

The author of works such as "A Prayer for Marilyn Monroe" and "Cosmic Song," Cardenal has been nominated for times for the Nobel in literature.