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Suspended bishop cleared as presidential candidate in Paraguay November 16, 2007

An inactive Catholic bishop, Fenrnando Lugo Mendez, has been cleared to be an active candidate in Paraguay's presidential elections.

Incumbent President Nicanor Duarte said that Lugo is qualified to stand as a candidate, despite a constitutional provision that bars priests from holding the presidency. Lugo has said that he has "resigned" his priesthood.

The Vatican, which has pointed out that a priest cannot "resign" his ordination, has opposed the bishop's political aspirations. In February the Vatican announced that Lugo was suspended as a result of his continued partisan activity.

Bishop Lugo was appointed in 1994 to head the San Pedro diocese. He resigned in January 2005, claiming uncertain health-- a claim that has been undermined by his subsequent political activity. He is regarded as a favorite for election in the 2008 presidential contest.

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