But it will not be easy for Mr Lugo. He is a former missionary who embraced a school of theology that blended Marx with St Peter. He spent more than ten years as bishop of San Pedro, one of the poorest regions of Paraguay, peopled by Guaraní Indian peasant farmers and landless labourers. He backed invasions of large rural estates by radical movements, becoming known as the “bishop of the poor”.He ran for president at the head of a coalition including the centrist Liberal Party and a dozen small far-left groups. Though he won handily, he got only 42% of the vote and he may not command a legislative majority. As a priest he was a radical, but as president he may have to be pragmatic. His choice of ministers was a balancing act, mixing centrists, leftists and reformers such as the finance minister, Dionisio Borda. He has said that he will not renew Paraguay’s expiring agreement with the IMF; he also wants to attract private capital to state companies.
Which generated one of the great all-time letters to an editor:
SIR – Your round-up of the week’s news reported that the papal dispensation given to Fernando Lugo in order that he become Paraguay’s president was the first time that the Vatican allowed a bishop to resign (Politics this week, August 2nd). Cesare Borgia was made a bishop at the age of 15 and a cardinal at 18 by his father Pope Alexander VI. On August 17th 1498 he resigned both positions and on the same day the French king, Louis XII, made him Duke of Valentinois.
A few observations:
- I pray the letter writer had to look that one up.
- I also pray for an epiphany on Lugo’s economics.
- I love the fact that ‘Cesare Borgia’ searches on my blog no longer come up empty. Our long blogosphere nightmare is over.
- What accounts for the dearth of right-wing priests?
Are economics courses only electives at Seminaries? I can understand how working with the poor would cause a priest to advocate a more aggressive role for governments, but at some point you would think that facts would affect, even priestly, thinking on how best to help the poor.