ASUNCION, Paraguay – A Roman Catholic bishop alleged Tuesday that Paraguay’s president resigned as bishop in 2004 after at least two women in his parish wrote to a Vatican official that he had fathered their children.
Fernando Lugo, who was elected president last year, was hit with two paternity claims this month. He conceded last week that he is the father of one of the children. Bishop Rogelio Livieres alleged Tuesday that when confronted with the women’s complaints in 2004, Lugo said it was “possible” that their children were his as well.
Livieres said the church was aware of possible abuse of authority by Lugo, but allowed him to resign without making the complaints public, thus facilitating his bid for the presidency.
“The church hierarchy knew for years of this misconduct by Lugo, but kept silent. Now there’s nothing that it can do,” Livieres said in an interview with Asuncion-based Radio Mil.
The Paraguayan bishops’ conference wrote in a statement that it had never received “formal written complaints” from women about Lugo, and that it “laments and rejects” the claim that the church in Paraguay covered up immoral conduct.
Lugo’s resignation in 2004 as bishop of San Pedro was never fully explained. It wasn’t until December 2006 that he renounced his bishop status to run for president, and Pope Benedict XVI didn’t accept his resignation, relieving him of chastity vows, until weeks before he took office in August 2008.
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