In a decision that could increase tensions with the Vatican, Paraguay’s president-elect, former bishop Fernando Lugo, has named ex-priest Pablino Caceres as Secretary of the Ministry of Social Affairs, whose mission is to fight poverty in the country.
Caceres confirmed his appointment during a press conference. “President Lugo has entrusted to me the task of combating poverty from the office of Social Action,” he said. Caceres, 55, is a former Redemptorist priest and was director of Social Ministry for the province of Concepcion in northern Paraguay. In 2001 he requested to be released from the clerical state.
Caceres said in his new post he would be dedicated to “attacking poverty on many fronts, both in urban and in rural areas, without forgetting our indigenous brothers and sisters.”
One of the concerns of the bishops of Paraguay is that the Lugo administration will lead to a new wave of political involvement by priests and religious, whose numbers have been dwindling as pastoral needs increase.