ASUNCION (Reuters) - Paraguayan President Fernando Lugo admitted on Tuesday fathering a second child when he was a Roman Catholic bishop, in an apparent effort to limit damage from the latest paternity scandal to emerge during his four-year-old presidency.
Lugo, 61, once known as the “bishop of the poor,” had confessed to fathering a child soon after he was elected in 2008. The boy, who is now about 5 years old, was also conceived before Lugo quit the church to launch a political career.
The second case came to light when a 42-year old nurse told a newspaper Lugo was the father of her youngest child, a 10-year-old boy. She said she had sought advice from Lugo over marital problems when he was bishop in the city of San Pedro.
Presidential Secretary Miguel Lopez Perito, a close aide to the left-wing leader, said the case could tarnish Lugo’s image and would likely be used by the opposition to criticize the government’s candidates in a presidential election next year.
Lugo will not seek re-election because Paraguay’s constitution only allows for one presidential term.
“(The president) told me it is his son (and) I think it’s good that he has immediately accepted the recognition,” Lopez Perito said.
Lugo was also diagnosed with cancer, from which he has since recovered, since his election in 2008 ended six decades of rule by the conservative Colorado Party.
His pledges to champion the needs of the poor raised hopes of change among low-income Paraguayans. His reform agenda has stalled, however, in the face of stiff resistance from the opposition-controlled Congress.
Reporting By Daniela Desantis and Didier Cristaldo; Writing by Helen Popper; Editing by Eric Walsh