BY STAFF REPORTER
PARAGUAYAN President Fernando Lugo faced two more paternity claims last week only a few days after he admitted to fathering a boy while still a Catholic bishop.
One of the women putting forward the claims, Benigna Leguizamon, said she had sought help from him when he was bishop of the San Pedro diocese.
Miss Leguizamon, 27, whose son is now six, said she had met Mr Lugo’s lawyer and that the president had offered to submit to a private DNA test. She said she had filed a paternity suit against him last Wednesday.
In response to the claim, President Lugo read a message saying he would “act always with the truth”, submit to “all requirements of justice” and “keep this matter strictly private”. He referred reporters to his lawyer.
Also last week Paraguayan newspaper ABC Color published an interview with another woman, a 39-year-old grassroots leader and former coordinator of social ministry in the San Lorenzo diocese, who said Mr Lugo was the father of her 16-month-old son. The woman, Damiana Moran Amarilla, said it had been a relationship of “unconditional love” that began after Mr Lugo stepped down as Bishop of San Pedro, and that she would ask nothing of him.
In a radio interview last week, Bishop Rogelio Livieres Plano of Ciudad del Este, on the Paraguay-Brazil border, said the Paraguayan bishops’ conference had known of possible paternity cases involving Mr Lugo when he was a bishop, but covered them up.
Bishop Livieres said that between 2002 and 2004 the papal nuncio in Asuncion received letters from several women who claimed Mr Lugo had fathered their children. He claimed Mr Lugo had not denied the accusations and had resigned under pressure from Paraguayan Church leaders.
The Paraguayan bishops’ conference responded with a statement saying it “regrets and rejects” Bishop Livieres’s comments “which imply that there was cover-up and complicity by Paraguay’s bishops about the moral conduct of then Bishop Fernando Lugo”.
the bishops said they had “never received a formal written complaint about Bishop Fernando Lugo referring to issues of alleged paternity”. If the nuncio received complaints, the statement said, “their handling was the exclusive responsibility” of the Vatican representative.
The statement said the bishops’ conference did not receive a letter from Mr Lugo when he left the San Pedro diocese in 2004 and learned of his resignation in January 2005, when the Vatican accepted it.
The latest paternity claims came a week after Mr Lugo admitted to fathering a boy who will turn two in May and agreed to pay child support to the boy’s mother, Viviana Carrillo, 26, who had filed a paternity suit earlier this month.