Father Fernando Samaniego Orellana, chancellor and press director for the Prelature of Juli in the Andean region of southern Peru, has strongly rejected the “campaign of unjust criticisms and disparagement” launched against Bishop Jose Maria Ortega Trinidad for not renewing an agreement allowing the Maryknoll Missionary Society to continue working in the prelature.
Recently, Bishop Ortega Trinidad announced that he had decided not to renew the agreement that permitted the Maryknoll missionaries to work in the region because the American missionaries had fallen under the influence of Marxist liberation theology. He also charged that the extraordinary ministry carried out by their predecessors had been transformed into social activism and serious pastoral neglect of the inhabitants of the region.
Upon hearing of the bishop’s decision, several left-wing Peruvian organizations and publications launched a campaign against the bishop. Father Samaniego Orellana explained that the smear campaign “began from the moment the naming of Bishop Jose Maria Ortega Trinidad as the new Prelate of Juli at the beginning of 2006.” The bishop has since received death threats, despite being warmly received by local residents.
Bishop Ortega has also been criticized for joining the Priestly Society of the Holy Cross, which is linked to Opus Dei. Since becoming the bishop of the Andean region, he has carried out an extensive reform of priestly life, seminary formation, and of catechetical training, which was previously under the control of Maryknoll missionaries, who hired catechists sympathetic to Marxists views.
Although catechists in the Peruvian Andes are volunteers, those who work in Juli are paid with American dollars and have threatened to bring a lawsuit against the Prelature.