Friday, April 17, 2009

Nicaragua's Ernesto Cardenal Wins Chile's Pablo Neruda Poetry Prize

Latin American Herald Tribune

Nicaraguan poet, sculptor and liberation theology priest Ernesto Cardenal was announced Thursday as the recipient of the sixth Pablo Neruda Ibero-American Poetry Prize, awarded by the Chilean Consejo Nacional de la Cultura y las Artes (CNCA).

The panel of judges, headed by Chilean Culture Minister Paulina Urrutia, said that Cardenal had “renovated the classical Western tradition, applying it to contemporary reality.”

In addition, they noted “his ongoing interest and concern for the original peoples of this hemisphere and his political commitment” after meeting at “La Chascona,” the house that belonged to Neruda (1904-1973), the 1971 winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature.

The award notification emphasizes that with the distinction “homage is being paid to a complete body of work ... and to a country that can be proud of itself, like Chile, for supporting itself and surviving thanks to the voices of its poets, who go beyond history and offer a new face to new readers every day.”

Urrutia emphasized that the prize recognizes an author who represents the tradition of Nicaraguan poetry, “a man who profoundly examined the soul of the people of the Americas.”

“The truth is that it gives us great pride to have incorporated Ernesto Cardenal into the pinnacle of Ibero-American letters,” Urrutia said.

The judging panel was made up of Chilean poets Carmen Berenguer – last year’s prizewinner – and Oscar Hahn; Argentina’s Jorge Boccanera, Colombia’s Juan Gustavo Cobo and Spanish academic Selena Millares.

Accompanied by $30,000 in cash, the Neruda Prize was established in 2004 within the framework of the centennial celebration of the Chilean poet’s birth.

As has been done traditionally, the prize will be awarded on Neruda’s birthday, July 12. EFE

NYC archbishop's challenge: Not losing Hispanics

The Associated Press
Thursday, April 16, 2009 4:04 PM

NEW YORK -- When Archbishop Timothy Dolan became the leader of the New York Archdiocese this week, he read a part of his first sermon in Spanish. It made demographic sense — many of the city's Roman Catholics are Latino.

But the church, which will increasingly rely on Hispanics for its continued vitality, is facing a challenge: A small but growing number of Latinos are turning to Protestant denominations, particularly Pentecostal and Evangelical, finding the worship styles and Hispanic pulpit leadership can be a better fit for their spiritual needs.

The shift from Catholic to other Christian denominations has been gathering momentum in the Latino community in New York and around the country in recent years, presenting the new leader of the archdiocese with a formidable challenge as he takes over the most prominent position in American Catholicism.

The Catholic Church is losing people like Corey Pagan, who now makes her religious home at the Primitive Christian Church, a Pentecostal church with a primarily Hispanic leadership and strongly Hispanic congregation on the Lower East Side of Manhattan.

"I really like the idea of the relationship you build here with others and how you build a relationship with God," Pagan said. "I didn't really have that growing up in the Catholic church."

Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who speaks Spanish and can celebrate Mass in language, has spoken on the importance of reaching immigrants.

That's important for people like Patricia Rodriguez. The 45-year-old Harlem woman took a lunch break this week to witness the procession outside St. Patrick's Cathedral on the day Dolan was installed. She said she has seen the movement among her fellow Hispanics away from Catholicism toward other denominations, driving home the need for the archdiocese to do more to keep them.

"If they don't have a place to go or the leadership that is necessary, what are they going to do? They can go elsewhere," she said.

The Catholic church is working on increasing the presence of Hispanics in its leadership, and many churches are conducting services in Spanish.

Even with the challenges, Catholicism is in no immediate danger of losing its position of religious primacy among Hispanics. According to a 2007 report from the Pew Hispanic Center, 68 percent of Hispanics are Catholic, while 20 percent identified themselves as following a Protestant denomination.

But the report also found that 20 percent of Hispanics said they had followed another religious tradition as children, either turning to another church or not following any faith as adults. Of those who had changed, the vast majority were former Catholics.

"There is no question there is movement within the Hispanic community," said Luis Lugo, director of the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life.

Hispanic evangelical and Pentecostal leaders see no sign of the trend stopping.

"The future of the American religious landscape without a doubt will be dramatically impacted by the Hispanic population, without a doubt it will be evangelical in nature," said the Rev. Samuel Rodriguez, president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference.

The strong link between Latinos and Catholicism goes back centuries, due to the colonizing efforts of European countries, primarily Spain, in Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. As the Hispanic presence in the United States has grown, through immigration and generations born here, so, too, has that link.

But the connection has never been absolute. Other Christian traditions have had a presence as well, and different countries have had different experiences with Catholicism. According to the Pew report, 74 percent of Hispanics of Mexican origin are Catholic, while only 49 percent of Puerto Rican and 68 percent of Dominican-origin Hispanics are.

That's of particular relevance in New York City, where unlike the country as a whole, Hispanics of Mexican origin are strongly outnumbered by those tracing their roots to Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.

The inroads are being made both in the United States as well as Latin America, Rodriguez said, pointing to countries like Guatemala and El Salvador that have gone from being Catholic strongholds to having sizable Pentecostal and Evangelical communities. So when people come from those countries, they bring those faith traditions with them, he said.

The appeal of these other denominations comes from a variety of reasons, including how worship services are performed and who is leading the churches, said the Rev. Gabriel Salguero of the Latino Leadership Circle.

"The liturgical worship style speaks to many Latinos," he said.

The Rev. Marc Rivera, of the Primitive Christian Church in lower Manhattan, agrees.

He said the appeal for his worshippers was that "they are actively involved in their own spirituality, rather than going through a priest, rather than going through a hierarchical system."

The Pew study bears that out. It found that more than half of Latino Protestants come under the category of renewalist, which emphasizes the role of the Holy Spirit through things like miracles or speaking in tongues.

At a weeknight service last week, the enthusiasm of the crowd did not stop when Rivera finished speaking. Afterward, worshippers milled about the pews, exchanging handshakes, hugs and conversation.

Jassy Ramirez, who like Pagan is a congregant at Primitive Christian Church, said the strong presence of other Hispanics was part of the initial appeal of the church, which she continues to attend even though she now lives up in the Bronx.

"It did make it easier for me to feel at home, to feel at ease," she said.

Despite the best efforts of the Catholic church to make Hispanics feel more welcome, Samuel Rodriguez predicts that it will be difficult for the church to stem the tide.

"By 2050, when you say Hispanic," he said, "the first word that comes to mind will be evangelical."

U.S. Bishops urge Obama not to blame migrants for border violence

Washington D.C., Apr 17, 2009 / 04:03 am (CNA).- The U.S. Conference of Bishops released a statement today asking President Obama to consider that “migrants are not responsible for the drug violence” on the border. Bishop Wester said that “criminals, smugglers, corrupt officials and drug and arms dealers on both sides” of the border are the cause of violence, not those seeking jobs in the United States.

President Obama who was in Mexico for less than 24 hours, met with Mexican President Felipe Calderón to discuss the increasing drug and border violence.

Border violence has escalated in the past several months as feuding drug lords have stepped up their attacks. During the last two years, over 10,000 murders have been attributed to drug-related violence.

John C. Wester, the Bishop of Salt Lake City and the chairman of the U.S. Bishops Committee on Migration, said, “Immigration is not simply a domestic issue, but also one of foreign affairs.”

“The relationship between President Obama and Mexican President Calderón may hold the key to many problems impacting the United States and Mexico domestically—drug-related violence and the economy, for sure, but also immigration,” he added.

On the topic of the immigration debate, Bishop Wester said that the issue is surrounded by many misperceptions, one of them being that the “passage of an immigration reform bill by Congress would be 'the magic bullet that slays the dragon of illegal immigration.'”

He emphasized that “while such a bill is indispensable to a long-term solution and must be acted upon—sooner rather than later—it should be understood that the humane and lasting answer to this vexing social issue lies in regional, if not global, cooperation among nation-states.”

“Enforcement is not the only solution to illegal immigration, reform of laws should be included,” Wester said and stressed that both the U.S. and Mexico need to cooperate on the root causes of migration.

Wester also pointed to the irony that migrants play a vital role in turning “capital into profit” in most developed countries, but enjoy little “legal protection” and are often “blamed for myriad social ills.”

“As a result, the United States receives the benefit of their toil and taxes without having to worry about protecting their rights, either in the courtroom or the workplace,” said the bishop. “When convenient, they are made political scapegoats and attacked—both rhetorically and through worksite raids,” he remarked.

Wester said that the Mexican government benefits as well since “up to $20 billion” flows from workers in the U.S. back to their families in Mexico. The result, he said, is a “go north” policy which “exposes Mexican citizens to the ravages of human smugglers, corrupt law enforcement officials, and potential death in the desert.”

The biggest losers of the “globalization game are the migrants” because they have “no political power” and cannot “defend themselves from inevitable abuse and exploitation.”

A humane approach to immigration reform that considers these issues would help reduce violence on the border by creating a legal system that regulates the flow of migrant labor into the United States, Bishop Wester argued.

This solution would allow, according to Wester, a “better focus on drug and human smugglers” who are the real source of violence on the border.

Bishop Wester also cautioned against those who try to send the wrong message about the drug violence at the border.

“Migrants are not responsible for the drug violence on the border—criminals, smugglers, corrupt officials, drugs and arms dealers on both sides are. Both presidents should make a clear statement to this regard,” he said.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Big Girls Can Sing

The Internet today is dominated by a lovely story of a 47-year old Scottish woman from West Lothian who wowed judges and audience of the TV show "Britain's Got Talent". Susan Boyle is not a young glamorous sex symbol like the female contestants on "American Idol". She is unmarried, currently unemployed, having spent many years caring for her mother until her mother's death in 2007. Susan herself suffers from learning disabilities, having suffered oxygen deprivation at birth. As a result, she was frequently teased at school.

Yet she never let this make her bitter at the world. Instead, she tries to keep a positive attitude and has devoted her energy to helping others. As she told the talent show: "I like to help out where I can and I mostly do voluntary work. I help out the elderly, stuff like that. And I visit people in hospital. I’ve been doing that for a year and a half now."

And she sang -- at the local pub and in her church. When she came on stage to audition for "Britain's Got Talent", the judges rolled their eyes and the audience snickered. From her looks, no one expected anything. Then she opened her mouth and launched into "I Dreamed a Dream" from "Les Misérables" and brought the room to their feet. Stop to watch the video and then keep reading.

Susan Boyle "I Dreamed a Dream"

We Americans and Europeans tend to want our singers young and pretty but our brothers and sisters south of the border have taught us that some of the most talented voices come in bodies that will not win any beauty contests. I remember the first time I saw Mercedes Sosa live. She was already up in years, heavy, and suffering from various physical disabilities. I was dubious, and yet when she started to sing, she dominated the stage like a diva. She was the queen of the concert hall and held us under her spell for the entire program. It didn't matter that she could no longer shake her booty. The power of her voice made you believe that peace was possible, social change likely, and revolution inevitable. She became, and still is, one of my favorite Latin American singers.

Last year, I was moved to see Ms. Sosa come out of retirement to sing with Colombia's No.1 sex symbol, Shakira, at a concert to benefit the ALAS Foundation. What is not captured in this "official" video is Shakira's reaction after Sosa leaves the stage. She gushes like a star-struck adolescent about how she can't believe she just sang a duet with Sosa, how it was a dream come true. The gorgeous and wealthy Shakira turns into a little girl before the venerable "La Negra".

Remember these women every time you start to make an assumption about someone because of their appearance. Stop...and give them a chance.

Mercedes Sosa and Shakira, "La Maza" - Movimiento ALAS Benefit Concert

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

April 15: and render unto God what is God's

En este día en que nosotros los residentes de Estados Unidos -- ciudadanos, documentados e indocumentados -- tenemos que entregar todos nuestros dolarcitos al IRS, quiero recordar a quien debemos entregar nuestras vidas y nuestros corazones:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Immigration News Roundup - 4/14/2009

1.Undocumented immigrants raise children in poverty: A growing number of undocumented immigrants are having children in the United States and raising them in poverty, a study released on Tuesday showed. Around 11.9 million mostly Hispanic undocumented immigrants live and work in the United States, and Americans are sharply divided over what to do with them. The survey by the Pew Hispanic Center, based in U.S. Census Bureau figures, found that the number of U.S. born children of unauthorized migrants grew to 4 million in 2008, up from 2.7 million five years earlier. It found that a third of the children of unauthorized immigrants and a fifth of adult unauthorized immigrants live in poverty -- nearly double the poverty rate for children of U.S.-born parents...

2. U.S. citizens locked up as illegal immigrants: In a drive to crack down on illegal immigrants, the United States has locked up or thrown out dozens, probably many more, of its own citizens in the past eight years. A months-long Associated Press investigation has documented 55 such cases, on the basis of interviews, lawsuits and records obtained under the Freedom of Information Act. These citizens were detained for periods from one day to five years. Immigration lawyers say there are hundreds of such cases.

3. Arrest Data Add Fuel to Debate on Illegal Residents: About 2 percent of the people charged with major violent crimes in Prince William County last year were illegal immigrants, but they were arrested for a larger portion of secondary offenses, according to newly released statistics and a Washington Post analysis that offer the first comprehensive look at criminal activity since the county implemented its controversial anti-illegal immigration measures...George E. Tita, an associate professor of criminology, law and society at the University of California at Irvine, said the charges against illegal immigrants are, in part, due to their circumstance. They can't get driver's licenses and often can't get legitimate work, so arrests for prostitution and driving without a license are to be expected, he said.

Photo: At the Jackson Cupboard food bank in Jackson Hole, Wyoming

Labor Groups Unveil Unified Immigration Reform Framework

WASHINGTON - April 14 - Joseph T. Hansen, International President of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW) and chair of the Change to Win Immigration Task Force, and John Sweeney, International President of the AFL-CIO, today unveiled a unified framework for comprehensive immigration reform legislation.

The joint announcement and proposal is a critical sign of support for the Administration and Congress to address immigration reform - and to ensure that it remains a priority on the legislative calendar. It is also an important sign that immigration reform is an important part of economic recovery.

"We need an immigration system that works for America's workers," said President Hansen. "For too long, our nation's immigration system has fueled discrimination and exploitation of workers. It has driven down wages and working conditions. And it has failed to live up to our nation's values. We now have an opportunity to change course. This framework is a roadmap toward real reform-reform that addresses the needs of our nation's workers, families and communities. This framework is about moving America forward. We are a nation that respects hard work, family and the pursuit of the American Dream. Our immigration system must hold true to these principles."

"Our nation's broken immigration system isn't working for anybody --not immigrant workers who are routinely exploited by companies and not U.S. born workers whose living standards are being undermined by the creation of a new "underclass." As a part of broad-based economic recovery, we need a comprehensive solution -- and soon. The development of a unified labor position, a position centered on workers' rights, puts us on the path to a legislative solution," said President Sweeney. "The labor movement will speak in one voice to address this pressing issue with Congress and the White House to create a system that protects all workers -- those who work in our shadow economy and those who have full rights."

Sweeney and Hansen also were joined by Eliseo Medina, Executive Vice President of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and Arturo Rodriquez, President of the United Farm Workers (UFW) in making the announcement. Both Medina and Rodriguez have been national leaders on immigration reform and played a key role in the formation of the immigration framework.

"As we face the most serious recession since the Great Depression-as healthcare costs skyrocket, income disparity grows, and the middle class continues to shrink-the American public wants fundamental reform of economic and social policies that have benefited the few at the expense of the working majority," said Medina "Immigration reform is no exception. Today's unified agreement is a major step forward that will, combined with the continued leadership of President Obama, Vice President Biden and bipartisan leadership in Congress, profoundly improve the future of all workers and build a stronger American economy for our children and grandchildren."

"Today's unity statement is a recognition of the dire need to have immigration laws that work and work for all workers," said Rodriguez. "Too many workers - both U.S. and immigrant are exploited by the current system and that needs to change. The United Farm Workers, Change to Win and the AFL-CIO came together because we can no longer be delayed."

President Obama recently reiterated his support for immigration reform and stated that real reform cannot be completed in a piecemeal fashion

The Unity Framework, which was developed in consultation with Former Secretary of Labor Ray Marshall and the Economic Policy Institute, provides a comprehensive plan for addressing immigration reform.

The plan adheres to the Administration's goals by creating a framework that deals with the critical components of reform and does it through interconnected initiatives. The proposal calls for: (1) an independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; (2) a secure and effective worker authorization mechanism; (3) rational operational control of the border; (4) adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and (5) improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.

In the coming weeks, representatives from labor will be meeting with key Congressional and Administration staff to discuss the framework and how best to move the issue forward. The groups have also briefed key activists and advocates about the framework and will be working closely with these vital allies in the coming months.

Framework for Comprehensive Immigration Reform

Immigration reform is a component of a shared prosperity agenda that focuses on improving productivity and quality; limiting wage competition; strengthening labor standards, especially the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively; and providing social safety nets and high quality lifelong education and training for workers and their families. To achieve this goal, immigration reform must fully protect U. S. workers, reduce the exploitation of immigrant workers, and reduce the employers' incentive to hire undocumented workers rather than U.S. workers. The most effective way to do that is for all workers-immigrant and native-born-to have full and complete access to the protection of labor, health and safety and other laws. Comprehensive immigration reform must complement a strong, well-resourced and effective labor standards enforcement initiative that prioritizes workers' rights and workplace protections. This approach will ensure that immigration does not depress wages and working conditions or encourage marginal low-wage industries that depend heavily on substandard wages, benefits, and working conditions.

This approach to immigration reform has five major interconnected pieces: (1) an independent commission to assess and manage future flows, based on labor market shortages that are determined on the basis of actual need; (2) a secure and effective worker authorization mechanism; (3) rational operational control of the border; (4) adjustment of status for the current undocumented population; and (5) improvement, not expansion, of temporary worker programs, limited to temporary or seasonal, not permanent, jobs.

Family reunification is an important goal of immigration policy and it is the national interest for it to remain that way. First, families strongly influence individual and national welfare. Families have historically facilitated the assimilation of immigrants into American life. Second, the failure to allow family reunification creates strong pressures for unauthorized immigration, as happened with IRCA's amnesty provisions. Third, families are the most basic learning institutions, teaching children values as well as skills to succeed in school, society, and at work. Finally, families are important economic units that provide valuable sources of entrepreneurship, job training, support for members who are unemployed and information and networking for better labor market information.

The long-term solution to uncontrolled immigration is to stop promoting failed globalization policies and encourage just and humane economic integration, which will eliminate the enormous social and economic inequalities at both national and international levels. U.S. immigration policy should consider the effects of immigration reforms on immigrant source countries, especially Mexico. It is in our national interest for Mexico to be a prosperous and democratic country able to provide good jobs for most of its adult population, thereby ameliorating strong pressures for emigration. Much of the emigration from Mexico in recent years resulted from the disruption caused by NAFTA, which displaced millions of Mexicans from subsistence agriculture and enterprises that could not compete in a global market. Thus, an essential component of the long-term solution is a fair trade and globalization model that uplifts all workers, promotes the creation of free trade unions around the world, ensures the enforcement of labor rights, and guarantees all workers core labor protections.

1. Future Flow

One of the great failures of our current employment-based immigration system is that the level of legal work-based immigration is set arbitrarily by Congress as a product of political compromise -without regard to real labor market needs-and it is rarely updated to reflect changing circumstances or conditions. This failure has allowed unscrupulous employers to manipulate the system to the detriment of workers and reputable employers alike. The system for allocating employment visas-both temporary and permanent-should be depoliticized and placed in the hands of an independent commission that can assess labor market needs on an ongoing basis and-based on a methodology approved by Congress-determine the number of foreign workers to be admitted for employment purposes, based on labor market needs. In designing the new system, and establishing the methodology to be used for assessing labor shortages, the Commission will be required to examine the impact of immigration on the economy, wages, the workforce and business.

2. Worker authorization mechanism

The current system of regulating the employment of unauthorized workers is defunct, ineffective and has failed to curtail illegal immigration. A secure and effective worker authorization mechanism is one that determines employment authorization accurately while providing maximum protection for workers, contains sufficient due process and privacy protections, and prevents discrimination. The verification process must be taken out of the hands of employers, and the mechanism must rely on secure identification methodology. Employers who fail to use the system properly must face strict liability including significant fines and penalties regardless of the immigration status of their workers.

3. Rational Operational Control of the Border

A new immigration system must include rational control of our borders. Border security is clearly very important, but not sufficient, since 40 to 45 percent of unauthorized immigrants did not cross the border unlawfully, but overstayed visas. Border controls therefore must be supplemented by effective work authorization and other components of this framework. An "enforcement-only" policy will not work. Practical border controls balance border enforcement with the other components of this framework and with the reality that over 30 million valid visitors cross our borders each year. Enforcement therefore should respect the dignity and rights of our visitors, as well as residents in border communities. In addition, enforcement authorities must understand that they need cooperation from communities along the border. Border enforcement is likely to be most effective when it focuses on criminal elements and engages immigrants and border community residents in the enforcement effort. Similarly, border enforcement is most effective when it is left to trained professional border patrol agents and not vigilantes or local law enforcement officials-who require cooperation from immigrants to enforce state and local laws.

4. Adjustment of Status for the Current Undocumented Population

Immigration reform must include adjustment of status for the current undocumented population. Rounding up and deporting the 12 million or more immigrants who are unlawfully present in the U.S. may make for a good sound bite, but it is not a realistic solution. And if these immigrants are not given adequate incentive to "come out of the shadows" to adjust their status, we will continue to have a large pool of unauthorized workers whom employers will continue to exploit in order to drive down wages and other standards, to the detriment of all workers. Having access to a large undocumented workforce has allowed employers to create an underground economy, without the basic protections afforded to U.S. citizens and lawful permanent residents, and where employers often misclassify workers as independent contractors, thus evading payroll taxes, which deprives federal, state, and local governments of additional revenue. An inclusive, practical and swift adjustment of status program will raise labor standards for all workers. The adjustment process must be rational, reasonable and accessible and it must be designed to ensure that it will not encourage future illegal immigration.

5. Improvement, not Expansion, of Temporary Worker Programs

The United States must improve the administration of existing temporary worker programs, but should not adopt a new "indentured" or "guest worker" initiative. Our country has long recognized that it is not good policy for a democracy to admit large numbers of workers with limited civil and employment rights.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Fernando Lugo: A Trust Betrayed

"Ante mi pueblo, aquí y ahora, ante mi conciencia y en homenaje a toda la gente que ha depositado su confianza en mi, manifiesto con la más absoluta honestidad, transparencia y el sentido al deber... es cierto que hubo una relación con Viviana Carrilllo, ante ello asumo todas las responsabilidades que pudieran derivar de tal hecho reconociendo la paternidad del niño."

With these words, President Fernando Lugo confirmed the stories that had been circulating in Paraguay following the paternity suit filed by Viviana Carrillo, the young mother of Lugo's son. While it is refreshing to hear Lugo finally tell the truth, it is depressing too. We wanted to believe that Lugo was the "bishop of the poor", the hope for a resurgence of liberation theology and a more promising and corruption-free future for Paraguay's underclass. Viviana's story seriously calls this image into question.

I knew Viviana's story was true when I first read about it because its details rang familiar to someone who has been blogging about celibacy -- or lack thereof -- for several years. In the 8-page document, Viviana says that Lugo "seduced" her when she was a 16 year-old confirmand and then Bishop Lugo was staying at her aunt/godmother's house in Choré, San Pedro, where she was living and working as a maid.

"Todo se inició una vez cuando le llevé las ropas de cama a su habitación, y al preguntarle si necesitaba algo más, él me dijo que sí, que a mí era a quien él necesitaba, siendo a partir de ese momento constante su acoso, hasta que debido a mi corta edad e inexperiencia, fui seducida por su forma de hablar, por sus palabras bonitas, por sus expresiones bellas, y por las promesas que me hizo de renunciar a su cargo por mí, y que pretendía compartir una vida conmigo y que tengamos muchos hijos y formemos un hogar, habiendo sido él mi primer y único hombre." ("Everything started one day when I was bringing the bedclothes to his room, and when I asked him if he needed anything else, he said yes, I was what he needed, and his pursuit was constant from that moment, until because of my youth and inexperience, I was seduced by his way of talking, his lovely words, his beautiful expressions, and the promises he made to leave his position for me, and he said he would share his life with me and we would have a lot of children and form a home, him being my first and only man.")

The relationship between Lugo and Carrillo continued for the next decade. When her relatives became aware of the relationship, Carrillo moved to Hernandarias in Alto Paraná to escape the scandal. She lived there from 2004 to 2005. Lugo, a Divine Word missionary priest, resigned as bishop of San Pedro in 2005. He petitioned the Vatican for reduction to lay status in 2006 but the Vatican did not act on it immediately and encouraged Lugo to give up politics and return to the priesthood. He was only granted a reduction to lay status after he won the Paraguayan presidential election in 2008.

Carillo followed Lugo. "En el año 2006, al tiempo que el demandado se desempeñaba como Director del Colegio del Verbo Divino de Asunción, me mudé a la capital a solicitud del mismo, donde seguimos viéndonos, pero a escondidas porque él era muy conocido y a raíz de que empezó a incursionar en la política..." ("In 2006, when the defendant was working as Diector of the Colegio del Verbo Divino in Asunción, I moved to the capital at his request, where we continued to see each other, but in secret because he was well known and because he had started to get into politics...")

Carrillo says Lugo was jealous and did not want her to work. Instead, he sent monetary support to her via his nephew, Fernando José Lugo. Their relationship grew chilly to the point that Lugo told her that "las relaciones iban a ser distintas, si ella no se embarazaba" ("the relationship would be different unless she got pregnant"). Guillermo Armindo, named by Lugo after his father, was born on May 4, 2007, many months before the Vatican granted Lugo's request for reduction to lay status. However, after the birth of the baby, Lugo's visits became less and less frequent. Viviana was left to raise the child alone.

When Carrillo accused Lugo of not caring about his son, he became physically abusive. "La gota que colmó el vaso, la razón de esta demanda, ha sido que la última vez que nos vimos, estando dentro de un vehículo con el demandado, discutiendo nuevamente por la desatención del mismo para con su hijo, y al señalarle que no podía ser que yo tuviera que mendigarle todos los meses para que su hijo pudiera comer, y que aparentemente él no le quería, me dio un golpe en la cara, señalándome que jamás dijera eso." ("The straw that broke the camel's back, and the reason for this claim, is that the last time we saw each other, in the defendant's car, arguing again about his lack of attention to his son, and when I told him I couldn't come begging to him every month so that his son could eat, and that apparently he didn't love him, he struck me in the face, telling me never to say that.")

Now Lugo has reluctantly confessed. He has sent his lawyers to append the birth certificate of his son with a statement acknowledging his paternity and says he will conform to whatever the law requires of him in terms of child support, and refused to give any other statements at this time, ostensibly to "protect the privacy of the young mother and child".

But where does that leave Viviana? She is still a poor, single mother. All the promises of a lifetime of love, a home and a family were nothing more than words from a man whose political ambitions did not have room for a woman young enough to be his daughter, a reminder of his past indiscretions. Ironically, only hours before his public acknowledgement of his son, Lugo still could not take responsibility for violating his vows and told a Spanish TV station he still believes in celibacy:
- Do you believe in celibacy?

- Yes.

- Have you respected it?

- It's an imperfect matter. In traditional theology, the only thing perfect is God. Everything we humans do is imperfect. The human race is imperfect and thus we might have weaknesses, make mistakes, or leave our convictions aside at any given moment.
Photos: Fernando Lugo and Viviana Carrillo -- 10 years ago and today.

Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est

Holy Week is always long and a little tiring. Four different churches, lots of pomp and ritual. But the high point for me was none of this. It was the time spent riding with my friend, listening -- and occasionally singing along -- to the Sarah Brightman disc that happened to be in the CD player. We have fun together. In the car we can just be two friends enjoying life. At the destination, it's back to work. He has his role; I have mine.

Perhaps you were expecting something brilliant -- a profound reflection on how Jesus died for our sins (my personal theology leans more towards "Jesus died -- and continues to die -- BECAUSE of our sins" than a rarified salvational interpretation of the Crucifixion), or maybe a review of the various liturgical dramas of Semana Santa. But I don't find Jesus in the showy moments -- much less when viewed from behind a camera lens. I find Him in my friend's smiling eyes, hear Him in his joyful laugh, and so the quiet but spontaneous time in the car does more for my soul than any carefully scripted Church activity, no matter how well executed.

Later I received an Easter greeting and reflection from Don Sante, a married priest friend from Italy. Jesus is not to be found where power and judgement (and, all too frequently, injustice) hold sway, but where love, compassion and forgiveness prevail. Here are Don Sante's words, loosely translated into English:

Jesus created many enemies, while only doing good. When someone hates you, your misfortune becomes their joy. When someone hates you, your death becomes their greatest joy. Jesus dies and His enemies rejoice. Jesus is also abandoned by His friends (or better: by opportunists of every kind and degree); He is alone. Those who remain near Him can be counted on one hand and His enemies sing victory.

Those who believe they possess the truth grant themselves the right to defame and slander. Those who feel they have a monopoly on God exercise their power of death, issue sentences and judgments, have no limits when gathering false evidence and committing injustice. With their dogmatic infallibility, they have made themselves the most repugnant of the idols.

Jesus, to the end, remains faithful to His way of love: NO POWER to exert over others because His kingdom will never be in this world, NO JUDGEMENT but always mercy, understanding and forgiveness; NO INJUSTICE, because men and women are made for truth, harmony, goodness, peace.

It is good to be a community, a family, a person that tries as much as possible not to have ANY POWER, not to render ANY JUDGEMENT, not to commit ANY INJUSTICE.

Jesus is left alone on this road. He gave the victory to His enemies, but He saved His dignity, His conscience, His freedom and especially the joy of loving and being loved. To all those who are trying to live out this way of love: Buona Pasqua!