Peru archbishop who sued 2 journalists over reports on abuses, financial corruption resigns early

ROME (AP) — A Peruvian archbishop who sued two journalists over their stories about sexual abuse and alleged monetary corruption in his spiritual motion, Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, has resigned amid a Vatican investigation.

Pope Francis on Tuesday accepted the resignation of Piura Archbishop José Eguren. At 67, he’s a number of years shy of the conventional retirement age for bishops of 75.

The Vatican didn’t say why Eguren was retiring early in its temporary announcement. However the Vatican final 12 months started an in-depth investigation into alleged abuse and monetary wrongdoing within the Peruvian-based Sodalitium to which Eguren belongs.

The Vatican has had its eye on Sodalitium, which has chapters throughout South America and the U.S., for over a decade. In 2017, a report commissioned by the group’s new management decided that its founder, Luis Fernando Figari, sodomized his recruits and subjected them to humiliating psychological and other sexual abuses.

These abuses first came to light in 2015, because of reporting by Peruvian journalists Pedro Salinas and Paola Ugaz. Along with Figari’s personal abuses, their reporting uncovered the alleged pressured eviction of peasants on lands in Eguren’s diocese by a Sodalitium-linked actual property developer.

In 2018, Eguren sued them for defamation, in search of about $100,000 complete and jail time for what he alleged was harm to his honor and fame. He dropped the aggravated defamation lawsuit in 2019, after he got here underneath criticism from even throughout the Peruvian church.

Final 12 months, the Vatican despatched its two prime intercourse abuse investigators to Peru to analyze not solely allegations of sexual and psychological abuses nonetheless within the Sodalitium, but in addition allegations of economic corruption.

The report’s particulars haven’t been launched, however Salinas advised Eguren’s elimination was immediately associated to the Vatican investigation and a doable signal that different motion could possibly be forthcoming.

“That is unprecedented and ought to be interpreted because the preamble to one thing greater: the doable suppression of the Sodalitium,” Salinas mentioned in a textual content message to The Related Press.

Salinas himself was a sufferer of Figari and has been on the forefront of attempting to carry Sodalitium accountable. Ugaz has labored for years to show the group’s abuses, struggling a number of lawsuits on account of her reporting.

She met with Francis in 2022, and in feedback Tuesday to the AP, thanked the pope for agreeing to ship the identical Vatican investigators who uncovered widespread sexual abuse within the Chilean Catholic Church, Archbishop Charles Scicluna and Monsignor Jordi Bertomeu, to look into the Sodalitium abuses.

Ugaz mentioned their work “has been decisive in shifting the needle within the Sodalitium case which has existed since 1971 and has by no means till at present, 2024, been accountable for its actions to its victims of sexual, bodily and psychological abuse.”

She added that she hoped the developments would additionally put an finish to what she known as the “judicial persecution” towards her for her reporting.

Eguren made no point out of the investigation in a press release posted on the Piura archdiocesan web site that introduced his resignation and the nomination of non permanent successor, Monsignor Guillermo Elías Millares.

Eguren mentioned that always he had “tried to satisfy the mission entrusted to me, with justice, honesty and constancy to the teachings of the church, with particular concern for the nice of the poorest and most needy.”

He quoted Pope Benedict XVI as saying that “loving the church additionally means having the braveness to make troublesome and painful selections, at all times protecting in thoughts the nice of the church and never of ourselves.”

Figari based the SCV, because the Sodalitium is thought, in 1971, as a lay neighborhood to recruit “troopers for God.” It was one among a number of Catholic societies born as a conservative response to the left-leaning liberation theology motion that swept via Latin America beginning within the 1960s.

Victims first complained to the Lima archdiocese about Figari’s perversions and abuses in Could 2011. The archdiocese says it turned the case over to the Vatican instantly, however neither the native church nor the Holy See took concrete motion till Salinas’ ebook, “Half Monks, Half Troopers,” was printed in 2015.

Sodalitium has mentioned up to now that it was collaborating with the Vatican investigation. It has quoted Figari as saying he’s harmless, however has known as the allegations in “Half Monks, Half Troopers” believable.


Briceño reported from Lima, Peru.

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