Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Pen for the President

Shortly after his historic victory in Paraguay's mid-April elections, President-elect Fernando Lugo -- the retired bishop suspended from ministry after he declaring his run for office -- received a courtesy call from the papal nuncio to the Latin American country, Archbishop Orlando Antonini.

While the Paraguay church's initial reaction to Lugo's expected defeat of its long-reigning Colorado party was little more than acknowledgment that it happened, Antonini called on the president-elect bearing a gift from B16: not a decree of excommunication, but a pen adorned with the papal coat of arms. The prelate-politico was reported to be emotional as he greeted the Vatican legate at his campaign headquarters.

As local media blared headlines that Lugo would use the Pope's gift in the exercise of his office, the bishop-emeritus of the country's poorest diocese appeared on a Catholic radio station to ask "sincere forgiveness" of those for whom his actions caused "sorrow." He likewise sought "pardon" from the Pope.

Zenit recently reported that "a unique solution" for Lugo is under consideration in Rome, as other sources held out the possibility that the onetime provincial of the Divine Word Fathers could return to ministry following the end of his five-year term in office.

The prelate will receive the presidential sash on August 15, Paraguay's patronal feast of the Assumption.

PHOTO: Reuters