Loss of Clerical State for Paraguay's President-Elect


ASUNCION, Paraguay, JULY 30, 2008 ( Benedict XVI has granted a reduction to the lay state for the president-elect of Paraguay, a former Catholic bishop who had been suspended "a divinis."

The apostolic nuncio in Paraguay announced today the Pope's decision regarding Fernando Lugo.

Archbishop Orlando Antonini explained at a press conference that the Holy Father "granted [Lugo] the loss of the clerical state, with all the obligations, as a priest and bishop of the [Society of the] Divine Word."

The nuncio said Lugo's request was accepted because "the people have elected him" and "his clerical state is not compatible with the presidency of the republic."

"Having examined all the circumstances carefully, His Holiness Benedict XVI has granted him the loss of his clerical state with the consequent loss of its inherent rights," he added.

A January 2007 decree signed by Cardinal Giovanni Battista Re, prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, had announced the suspension "a divinis" of Lugo, for having declared himself a candidate for the Paraguayan presidency. The Code of Canon Law prohibits this.

On Dec. 18, 2006, Lugo had requested the loss of the clerical state to become a candidate in the elections.

On April 20, 2008, the day after winning the election, Lugo asked the Church, and Benedict XVI in particular, for forgiveness for the sorrow his disobedience to canon law had caused.

According to a communiqué read by the nuncio, the Pontiff is now exhorting Lugo "to be faithful to the Catholic faith in which he was baptized and to lead a life that is consistent with the Gospel."

Lugo will take office Aug. 15.