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Peru university stripped of 'Catholic' status

July 23, 2012

The Vatican has ruled that a Peruvian school no longer has the right to be called a “Catholic” or “Pontifical” university.

The Vatican ruling, announced July 21, comes after 22 years of conflict, during which Church officials tried in vain to persuade university administrators to bring their policies and statutes in line with Church mandates. In April, officials at the school failed to meet an April deadline for submitting new statutes acceptable to the Holy See.

Upon receiving the official notice from the Vatican, the rector of the school issued a defiant response, saying that the institution would continue to identify itself as the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru. "We have the right to continue using [that name] as we see fit," he said.

The Pontifical Catholic University of Peru was founded in 1917 and granted canonical status by the Vatican in 1942. But the school began clashing with Church leaders in the 1960s—not only because of the emergence of dissident theologians on the faculty, but also because the university’s administrators changed the school’s bylaws without ecclesiastical approval.

The conflict escalated when the university refused to provide Lima’s Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani with a seat on the governing board, despite a legal requirement that was confirmed by Peruvian courts. In 2011, after an apostolic visitation of the school, administrators told the Vatican that they would reform their statutes only if the Lima archdiocese agreed to be excluded from governance of the university. The archdiocese and the Holy See refused to accept an agreement that would exclude the hierarchy from the governance of a “pontifical” institution.

“Given the attitude of the University, together with other facts, the Holy See was obliged to adopt this measure, while reaffirming the duty of the university to submit to canonical legislation,” the Vatican announced in stripping the university of its canonical status. The Vatican said that it would “continue to monitor the situation in the university,” hoping that administrators would reconsider their decisions.

The July 21 announcement from Rome did not directly address a key question about the future of the Peruvian institution. The donor who originally furnished the land for the university stipulated that if the institution ever lost its pontifical status, the legal title to the land would be turned over to the Lima archdiocese. It is not clear whether the archdiocese plans to enforce that provision of the grant.

It was clear, however, that university officials would continue to defy the Vatican. Marcial Rubio, the school's chancellor, said that the title "Pontifical University of Peru" is "our official name, under which we are recognized nationally and internationally." He said that any change in the school's name would require the approval of "the governing boards of the university."


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Show 5 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: John J Plick - Jul. 23, 2012 6:27 PM ET USA

    “...during which Church officials tried in vain to persuade university administrators ...” After 22 yrs. Amazing! Bravo!; and honestly, for sure... It literally takes my breath away to think that FINALLY Rome herself has done what only she herself can properly do... Again I say..., amazing... Deo gratias...!

  • Posted by: impossible - Jul. 23, 2012 5:59 PM ET USA

    Please Lord, let the overdue purge of dissident "Catholic" institutions sweep the US.

  • Posted by: - Jul. 23, 2012 5:43 PM ET USA

    Next on the list: the so-called Catholic University of Leuven...

  • Posted by: Defender - Jul. 23, 2012 10:49 AM ET USA

    If we trace U.S. Catholic colleges to a point where they strayed, you come to the Land O'Lakes Conference in 1967. Since then, many (most?) Catholic colleges ignore the mandatum and Vatican instructions. The bishops have also chosen to ignore these flagrant slaps in the face to their teaching authority. How many Catholics have strayed in the 50 years that these schools have failed to do their stated mission of being Catholic? The Vatican needs to continue with most Jesuit schools in the US.

  • Posted by: normnuke - Jul. 23, 2012 10:41 AM ET USA

    This is somewhat remeniscent of the situation not long ago which finally resulted in the dismissal by the vatican of the bishop of Toowoomba, Australia after decades of his dissident insubordination.It is satisfying (although sad) to hear the PanzerPabst say 'Basta cosi'.