The Vatican suspended a divinis Paraguayan bishop Fernando Lugo for having resigned last year to his church position to become a candidate for the presidential election of 2008.
In a letter addressed to the San Pedro dioceses and released in Paraguay's capital Asuncion by the Vatican representative, Lugo is informed that his petition to return to laic condition has not been accepted. The suspension decree also states that the bishop is banned from executing all activities related to his episcopal duties. "You remain in clergy condition and continue obliged to the inherent duties, although suspended in the sacred ministry", reads the decree signed by Cardenal Giovanni Battista form the Bishops Congregation. The official Vatican decree dated January 20 points out that suspended bishop Lugo has already been admonished in December 2006 for having accepted the presidential candidacy with a suspension warning if he persisted with his pretensions. Furthermore last December 25, "during the solemnity of the Nativity of Our Lord, Your Excellency publicly declared to be available for political or institutional commissions and so far has not changed opinion of this decision, so with sincere grief I comply with the obligation of imposing through the present decree, the punishment of a divinis suspension". Last December 18 Lugo addressed a letter to the Pope "resigning to his clergy condition" so as to accept the petition from several citizens' movements and minority parties, --disenchanted with the Paraguayan political system--, to become a candidate for the Paraguayan presidential election next year. In early January he received a letter from Cardinal Battista in which he was informed that Pope Benedict XVI turned down his petition to return to the lay state emphasizing that "the episcopacy is a free decision accepted for ever". Lugo needs to return to lay condition to officially present himself as a candidate in the elections since the Paraguayan constitution bars all religious representatives from the posts of president and vice president.