THE BASTION of liberation theology in Latin America is no longer “Pontifical” and “Catholic.”

Cracking the whip on dissenting academics, the Vatican has forbidden the University of Peru from using the titles, saying the institution no longer possesses a Catholic character.

“The Holy See, with the Decree of His Eminence the Secretary of State, under a specific Pontifical mandate, has decided to remove from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru the right to use in its name the titles ‘Pontifical’ and ‘Catholic’ in accordance with canon law,” the website of the Vatican News Agency said last July 21.

The Vatican said the university “amended its statutes several times since 1967 in a way [that] has severely injured the interests of the Church.” Moreover, the university did not comply with the Holy See’s instruction to align its statutes to the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae.

Ex Corde Ecclesiae contains guidelines for Catholic universities. It was promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

Under Ex Corde, for instance, the Archbishop of Lima must sit on the university’s governing board. But the university has been refusing to comply, even with a 2010 order from the Peruvian high court upholding the archbishop’s rights.

Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest travelled to Peru in 2011 for an apostolic visitation. The institution was found to be in violation of important areas of policy.

The Vatican set an April 8 deadline for the university to comply. But administrators, led by the rector, Marcial Rubio, voted to defy the Pope.

“Recently, the Rector sent two letters to the Secretary of State, in which he expressed his inability to implement the requirements, conditioning the change of the statutes to the renunciation of the right of the archdiocese to participate in the administration of the University,” the Vatican said.

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The Vatican said the “Holy See will continue to monitor the situation of the University,” hoping for the reconsideration of the administration’s position.

“The renewal requested by the Holy See will make the University more capable of responding to the task of bringing the message of Christ to man, society, and culture, according to the mission of the Church in the world,” the Vatican said.

Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru, one of the top universities in the country, was founded in 1917 and was canonically erected by a Vatican decree in 1942. It has 16,000 students.


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