Monday, February 13, 2012

Fernando Lugo

Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez (born 30 May 1951) is a former Roman Catholic bishop of the Diocese of San Pedro and the current President of Paraguay.

Early Life
Lugo's family was not particularly religious; by his own account, he never saw his father set foot in a church. However, the influences during his upbringing were distinctly political. His maternal uncle, Epifanio Méndes Fleitas, was a Colorado Party dissident and was persecuted and exiled by General Stroessner's regime. Lugo's father was imprisoned twenty times, and some of his elder siblings were sent into exile. He received his basic education at a religious school in Encarnación, all the while he worked selling snacks on the streets.

Aged 17 or 18, against his father's wishes for him to become a lawyer, Lugo entered a normal school, and began teaching at a rural community. He was well accepted within this people, who were very religious, but they had no priest. He recalls that he was touched by that experience, discovering his vocation to the Roman Catholic priesthood, and he decided to enter a seminary operated by the Society of the Divine Word at age 19. Lugo was ordained a priest on 15 August 1977. That year he was sent to Ecuador, where he served as a missionary for five years. In Ecuador he had the opportunity to learn about the controversial liberation theology, a movement later criticized in large measure by the Vatican.

Lugo returned to Paraguay in 1982, and after a year, the regime's police asked Church authorities that he be expelled from the country. The Church complied and sent him to Rome for further academic studies. Lugo returned to Paraguay in 1987, two years before the Stroessner dictatorship's ultimate fall. Lugo was ordained a bishop on 17 April 1994, and received charge of the nation's poorest diocese, in the San Pedro department.

Lugo resigned as ordinary of the Diocese of San Pedro on 11 January 2005. He had requested laicization in order to run for office. However, the Holy See refused the request on the grounds that bishops could not undergo laicization, and also denied him the requested canonical permission to run for civil elected office. Following his election as President, the Church imposed laicization for his having been elected to political office without permission.

Personal Life
As Lugo is unmarried, he announced the designation of his elder sister, Mercedes Lugo, as First Lady of Paraguay.

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