Ex-bishop barred from seeking Paraguay presidency, nation's leader claims

Paraguay's outgoing President Nicanor Duarte says that the landlocked South American nation's constitution bars the election of retired Bishop Fernando Lugo from seeking the presidency.

The International Herald Tribune reports that Duarte's comments appeared to back up media speculation that his party will ask ask electoral authorities to keep Lugo off the ballot.

"That candidacy is unconstitutional" because Lugo is still a priest, Duarte asserted on Paraguayan television Monday morning. "Lugo is a member of the clergy who doesn't know if he's a bishop or what."

Fernando Lugo announced he was resigning from the priesthood in December to run for the presidency. Many view him as the opposition's best chance to topple Duarte's Colorado Party, which has ruled the country for decades.

But church officials have opposed Lugo's candidacy, arguing that he cannot quit the priesthood and the Vatican bars priests from running for office.

Paraguay, less than 20 years removed from the long Alfredo Stroessner dictatorship, has a constitution that bars sitting presidents from running from re-election and members of the clergy from seeking any political office.

Duarte announced May 1 that he would not seek a constitutional amendment allowing him to run again.

Lugo, who was in Cuba Monday, has said the church "can either accept my decision or punish me. But I am in politics already."

Paraguay's Duarte says resigned bishop barred from seeing presidency (International Herald Tribune, 8/5/07)

LINKS (not necessarily endorsed by Church Resources)
Fernando Lugo (Wikipedia)

"Bishop of poor" leads Paraguay presidential race (CathNews, 28/3/07)
Vatican clamps down on controversial bishops (CathNews, 7/2/07)

9 May 2007