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Paraguayan president admits having fathered illegitimate child

Tuesday, April 14th 2009 - 02:08 UTC
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Pte. Fernado Lugo Pte. Fernado Lugo

Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo (57) publicly admitted Monday that he fathered an illegitimate child who is now 2 years old, in the wake of a legal complaint filed by the boy's mother.

”It is true that there was a relationship with Viviana Carrillo (26), I take every responsibility that might derive from that event, admitting to being the boy's father,“ Lugo said in a press conference at the government palace in Asuncion. However he said he would not comment further on the matter, adding that he wanted to protect the privacy of the boy

The boy was conceived while Lugo was a Roman Catholic bishop and therefore under a vow of celibacy.

Carrillo's lawyers filed suit against the president last week. Government officials then denied the allegations and said they were part of a campaign to damage Lugo's reputation. The opposition, in turn, accused the former bishop of lying and of having violated Roman Catholic precepts.

The suit kicked up a media storm that has damaged Lugo's image but the mother later told reporters she had not signed any complaint and had not authorized the lawyers to file it on her behalf.

Lugo won the presidency last April at the head of a coalition, ending more than 60 years of a hegemonic one-party rule in the poor landlocked Paraguay. He had served as a bishop for 10 years in the impoverished region of San Pedro and shed his cassock in late 2006 to launch his political career despite church opposition.

The Vatican at first rejected his petition for layman's status, suspending him from priestly duties but saying he was still a bishop since his ordination was a lifelong sacrament. It changed its position after he won the election, and Pope Benedict granted an unprecedented waiver to allow him to serve as president without violating church rules.

According to the lawsuit, Lugo and the mother of the child met when he was bishop in San Pedro and stayed in the house of her godmother.

Paraguay's Catholic leadership did not immediately react to Lugo's announcement, although some bishops did.

”It's a tough blow for the Catholic Church and a bad example that will make people lose confidence in the institution,” said Bishop Ignacio Gogorza in the Ultima Hora newspaper.

Lugo won the presidency on campaign pledges to end Paraguay's notorious corruption and push through land reforms to allow more landless peasants to hold plots. His policies have focused on social policies and tried to strengthen small businesses and peasant farmers, but has struggled to push through policies due to fierce opposition from other parties in Congress.

Categories: Politics, Paraguay.

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