The Holy See has confirmed through the Apostolic Nunciature in Paraguay the loss of the clerical state of former bishop and President-elect Fernando Lugo.
In a statement released today and signed by the Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy, Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re, the decree granting a dispensation from the clerical state for Lugo was made public. “His Excellency the Most Reverend Fernando Armindo Lugo Mendez, S.V.D., Bishop emeritus of San Pedro, requested dispensation from the clerical sate on December 18, 2006, in order to run in the elections for President of the Republic of Paraguay,” the decree states.
“The Holy See, after attempting to dissuade Bishop Fernando Lugo from running as a candidate for President of the Republic (cf. CIC can. 285&2), suspended him from the exercise of the priestly ministry,” the decree explains.
“The recent situation that has been created by the election of Bishop Fernando Lugo as President of the Republic of Paraguay,” the decree says, “requires that, for the good of the country and in order to clearly distinguish between the office of President of the Republic and the exercise of the episcopal ministry, the petition he presented requesting the loss of the clerical state be considered again.”
The decree goes on to affirm that, “in fact, his acceptance of the office of President of the Republic of Paraguay is not compatible with the obligations of the episcopal ministry and the clerical state.”
“Therefore, having carefully examined all the circumstances, His Holiness Benedict XVI has granted him the loss of the clerical state, with the consequent loss of the rights inherent therein, dispensing him as well from his religious vows made in the Society of the Divine Word, from clerical celibacy (cf. CIC can. 291) and from the other obligations that the clerical state entails (cf. CIC can. 292)."
Lastly, the decree underscores, “The Supreme Pontiff exhorts Mr. Fernando Armindo Lugo Mendez to be faithful to the Catholic faith in which he was baptized and to lead a life consistent with the Gospel.”
The Nunciature in Paraguay added that the Church’s action in the case of Lugo “is due exclusively to canonical and pastoral reasons,” and that “the Church, without abdicating her prophetic role, will continue in her relations with civil authorities as spelled out in the Constitution ‘Gaudium et Spes’ of Vatican II, according to which ‘the political community and the Church are independent and autonomous of each other in their own fields. Nevertheless, both, although under different titles, are at the service of the personal and social vocation of all people’.”