That year, Cardinal Obando presided over a Mass celebrating the 25th anniversary of the 1979 Sandinista revolution. In 2005 he officiated at Mr. Ortega’s marriage to his longtime companion, Rosario Murillo, effectively his co-president. She is now the country’s vice president.
Soon afterward, Mr. Ortega reversed his permissive position on abortion and led Nicaragua to adopt one of Latin America’s most restrictive abortion laws.
Even after retiring from active church life in 2005, Cardinal Obando remained one of Mr. Ortega’s most prominent supporters. According to cables released in the Wiki-leaks trove, the Vatican was unhappy with his partisanship.
In a cable from 2011, the United States ambassador to Nicaragua, Paul Trivelli, reported that the Vatican believed that Mr. Ortega “clearly maintains some sort of hold over Obando y Bravo.”
Days before Nicaraguans cast ballots in the 2011 presidential election, Cardinal Obando preached a sermon suggesting that they re-elect Mr. Ortega.
“I wish to congratulate Mr. President, Daniel Ortega, and his wife, Madam Rosario Murillo, for the work they have done during the five-year governing period, during which they have developed programs favoring the poor,” he said. “It is not easy to work for peace, but those who do so day after day deserve our praise.”
After the election, which Mr. Ortega won, the Roman Catholic Conference of Bishops denounced “the lack of transparency and honesty with which the elections were administered.” Cardinal Obando, however, defended the result. It was certified by the Supreme Electoral Council, whose chairman, Roberto Rivas, is the son of Cardinal Obando’s secretary.