NEWS:  May 12, 2009

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Bird’s Eye View of the News

Atila Sinke Guimarães

THE BISHOP’S HAREM  - In April of this year it came to light that the president of Paraguay, former Bishop Fernando Lugo, had engaged in a lengthy love affair and was the father of a child from the union. As the news spread, other women came forward, claiming that they also had children whom the Bishop had fathered.

Fernando Lugo inauguration

Lugo shuns a suit at his presidential inauguration: a protest against bourgeois protocol
As the reader may recall, Lugo, a hard-line partisan of Liberation Theology, took advantage of his ecclesiastical prestige to win the last presidential election in Paraguay (April 2008). Before starting his campaign - in accordance with a custom of the post-conciliar Vatican - he was dispensed from his episcopal duties in order not to mix the two spheres, religious and temporal. Such provisory dispensation of the use of orders, however, does not imply their abolition, since a Bishop has the plenitude of the power of orders forever.

Lugo’s socio-political platform is categorically red. An anti-capitalist and sympathizer of Marxism, he also sings in the choir of those who preach that the Spanish colonization of Latin America in the 16th and 17th centuries was to “exploit” the Indians instead of to bring the Catholic Faith and expand the Kingdom of Christ in the Americas. His Christian Civilization aversion goes to the point that at his inauguration he refused to wear a suit and tie, but appeared in collarless shirt and sandals.

Lugo campaigned on typical leftist promises to fight capitalist corruption and help the poor. His rise to Paraguay’s presidency reinforced the Communist-Socialist league of Latin American Heads of State. Besides Castro in Cuba, these include Chaves in Venezuela, Morales in Bolivia, Corrêa in Ecuador, Ortega in Nicaragua, Lula in Brazil, Kirchner in Argentina, Bachelet in Chile, Tabare in Uruguay and, since March, Mauricio Funes in San Salvador.

The 58-year-old dispensed Bishop was carrying out his progressivist agenda as head of State when Viviana Carrillo, age 26, entered the stage with a paternity suit against him. Lugo met Viviana when she was 16 and maintained a relation with her for many years. Their child was born in May 2007. For unknown reasons Viviana later denied filing the suit, but this avowal convinced neither her lawyers nor Judge Evelyn Peralta, who continued the investigations (The Tablet, April 18, 2009, p. 33).

In a written document Viviana revealed that Lugo, then Bishop of San Pedro, seduced her during her Confirmation preparations with “pretty words” and “beautiful expressions.” As a guest in her aunt’s house in the city of Choré, Lugo – abusing the confidence of the hostess – seduced the girl for the first time. A ten year relationship followed (UNO, Argentina, online April, 15, 2009).

Viviana Carrillo  confirmation

Viviana at her Confirmation, the age when she was sexually abused by Bishop Lugo
As the scandal broke and the Paraguayans realized that their president had been involved in a pedophile relationship with a teenage girl as Bishop and had fathered a child while campaigning for president, the political temperature rose around Lugo.

The outburst of public indignation obliged him to give satisfaction to his electors. On April 13, at a televised press conference, he spoke these unconvincing words: “I manifest with the most absolute honesty, transparency and sense of duty that, regarding the polemic unleashed by a supposed paternity lawsuit, it is true that there was a relationship with Viviana Carrillo. In the face of this, I assume all the responsibilities that could derive from such a fact, recognizing the paternity of the child” (The Tablet, April 18, 2009, p. 33).

According to Briton’s Guardian and the Brazilian Veja (online April 23, 24, 2009), after Viviana went public, another two women came forward with suits claiming Lugo was the father of their children. Indeed, the lawyers of Benigna Leguizamon, a 26-year-old soap seller, said Lugo was the father of her six-year-old boy. Damiana Moran, a 39-year-old divorcee, said Lugo was the father of her 16-month-old son, Juan Pablo, named after the late Pope.

EFE agency affirms six other women are also preparing lawsuits against Lugo, all claiming that the president fathered their children while he was a Bishop (online edition, April 23, 2009). El Mundo, Spain, recalls that during his campaign, the opposition alleged that Bishop Lugo had 17 children, an affirmation denied by his sister, today First Lady Mercedes Lugo (online, April 14, 2009).

This second round of revelations forced Lugo to offer another public explanation on April 18. In a bid for pity, he said: “I am a human person and for this reason, nothing that is human is foreign to me. As I ask pardon for these circumstances, I want to confirm that my version [of the facts] will always be the truth. … You will see this president multiplying his affections and attentions as a father” (EFE, April 23, 2009).

Lugo's lovers

Three paternity suits, from left, Viviana Carrillo, Benigna Leguizamon and Damiana Moran
Public indignation caused some representatives to ask for the president’s impeachment. AFP agency reports that senator Alfredo Jaeggli called for him to resign and let the vice-president assume the reins of government.

To avoid dismissal - his term ends in 2013 - Lugo and his party are alleging that a president cannot be removed from office for reasons involving his private life. In his April 18 apology, Lugo declared: “I recognize that I transgressed against the Church and the citizens. But the national constitution protects a person’s privacy; whatever is not private will be resolved as constitutional questions. I will not flee from my presidential responsibilities” (EFE, April 23, 2009).

Lugo’s political partisans are struggling to close the door on the scandal and return to the political routine. Vice-president Federico Franco affirmed: “He will resolve this matter as quickly as possible and start to govern effectively and efficiently.” In his turn, President of Congress Enrique Gonzalez stated: “I hope the president will recognize all his children – if there are more – at one time … and be able to manage this crisis of his government and clear up all doubts. (Veja, April 24, 2009).

Whether or not Paraguay will keep its president-Bishop is still an open question. Meanwhile, the two new lawsuits are pending.

In a radio interview Bishop Rogelio Livieres of Ciudad del Este affirmed that the Paraguayan Bishop’s Conference was aware of the claims of paternity involving Lugo when he was a Bishop, but covered them up. Livieres said also that between 2002 and 2004 the Papal Nuncio in Asunción received letters from several women who had claimed Lugo had fathered their children. He affirmed that Lugo had not denied the accusations and had asked his dispensation as Bishop under pressure from Paraguayan Church leaders.

The Bishops Conference responded with a note "regretting" Livieres statements, and denying his allegation of cover-up and complicity (National Catholic Reporter, May 1, 2009, p. 6).

The depraved bishop Lugo

Record depravity:
Bishop Lugo possibly fathered 17 children...
The absurdity of the situation has not escaped the press. The Diario Popular of Asunción affirmed: “The people are tired! Let’s see if all of them [the mothers] show up at the same time.” This was the caption under a photo of the third woman claiming Lugo is the father of her child (Veja, April 24, 2009).

Pro-condom partisans are already circulating a song with lyrics praising Lugo’s romantic involvements, but blaming him for not using condoms.

In thesis, if DNA blood tests are used, Lugo’s paternity could easily be determined in each case. In practice, he and his political colleagues may well be interested in preventing such tests from being made or in manipulating their final results

If the many alleged paternities of Lugo are proved true, we would be facing the case of a Catholic Bishop who – at a time when he was fully exercising his orders and episcopal functions – simultaneously had sexual affairs with three to seventeen different women. Even in this post-Vatican II era where we have witnessed all types of moral corruption, Lugo sets a remarkable record of depravity.

Here I believe we have a good X-ray vision of the kind of man presented by important sectors of the Church and the media as “the Bishop of the poor” and a sincere combatant against corruption .

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