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    Friday, July 13, 2007

    Bishops falling

    Weakland in Milwaukee, Lugo in Paraguay, government Bishops in China.

    Bishops are local by design, and being human despite being ordained, the flesh and human touch can overcome the spirit.

    Lugo is different because he looks willing to resign. Win or lose, after it's over and politics takes its toll he will be back to being Lugo.

    As prodigal sons indelibly ordained, they will return.


    A charismatic leader dubbed the "Bishop of the Poor" is an early favorite to make history as the first Roman Catholic bishop elected president of a country.

    The Vatican is not pleased, and it's not alone: Fernando Lugo's candidacy not only tests the church's strict prohibition on clergy seeking political office, it also challenges the established elites in Paraguay, where the poor majority feels disenfranchised after 6O years of unbroken rule by President Nicanor Duarte's Colorado Party.

    Lugo, who resigned as bishop in December to sidestep Paraguay's constitutional ban on clergy seeking office, sees politics as a solution to problems of his flock in the San Pedro region, where he spent nearly 11 years ministering to hungry peasants who toil in cotton and soybean fields of rich landowners.

    "We did everything possible there to help the people out of poverty and misery," he said.

    Pope Benedict XVI weighed in on the issue last month, telling a Latin American bishops conference that the "political task is not the immediate competence of the Church." Benedict also has taken a hard line against liberation theology, a Catholic movement that remains strong in Latin America, which holds that Christianity's central mission is to free the poor from oppression.

    Lugo said liberation theology is just one of many influences on his thinking, and noted that former popes have called responsible politics a "healthy and just activity."

    "I have freely and in good conscience renounced my priestly ministry," he said. "What I have freely decided to do cannot be judged by others."


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