Vatican takes over religious institution involved in sexual scandals

As the Pope's trip is apporaching, sexual abuse by catholic authorities take importance on the agenda

Vatican, Pope Francis

The Vatican has taken over a Peru-based Catholic movement- whose founder, Luis Figari, is accused of sexual and psychological abuse- just days before Pope Francis starts his trip to Chile and Peru.

A Vatican public statement said the congregation for religious orders had issued a decree naming a commissioner to take over the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV), a conservative movement that has about 22,000 members and subdivisions throughout South America and the United States.

This decision marked the latest — and most extreme — action to date taken by the Vatican since it first ordered an investigation of said society in 2015. After that, the Vatican named a representative, Cardinal Joseph Tobin, to attend SCV while it was reformed and then the Cardinal sanctioned Figari last year.

Figari, in an independent investigation concluded by prosecutors in Peru, was declared a paranoid narcissist obsessed with sex who delighted in the pain and humiliation of others.

In Peru, the scandal started when a journalist and former member of the society began publicly accusing Figari of abuse back in 2010. The case didn’t take flight in Lima and was ignored over at the Vatican for years. This all changed when a book was published in 2015 detailing the perverted ways Figari humiliated the members of the SCV.

While Figari was never accused by the justice system, many of the allegations against him were eventually confirmed by a Vatican investigations. Figari was ordered to cut off contact with members of the society and, since then, has been living in Rome as part of his punishment.

The society said it only learned of the takeover issued by the Vatican on Wednesday, January 10th. In a statement, it thanked Francis, pledged to cooperate fully with the new commissioner, and said it would accept whichever changes are made in the future. “We reaffirm once again our absolute obedience to the Holy Father and the Holy Mother Church”, affirmed the statement on the group’s website.

Figari founded the society in 1971 as a community to recruit “soldiers for God”. It was one of several Catholic societies born as a conservative reaction to the left-leaning liberation theology movement that spread through Latin America in the 1960s.  



Latin American Post | Carlos Gómez

Copy edited by Susana Cicchetto


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