Journalist Federico Prieto Celi, author of the book, “The Wheat and the Weeds,” has denounced the new attacks on the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, by “small groups trying to take away his authority.”
On August 30, the cardinal celebrated a Mass in honor of St. Rosa of Lima, patroness of the Peruvian police force, and in his homily he recalled that human rights “are too important to be left in the hands of a small ideological group.” This statement earned him a series of attacks from critics who even questioned his decade-long work as Archbishop of Ayacuho to bring peace to a region under the scourge of terrorists.
“The homily the cardinal gave was on August 20, the feast of St. Rose of Lima, and therefore it was addressed to her and to the police force, because that is also their day. His reference to human rights, which is something that should interest everyone and not just one particular group, was made in a religious context and was not meant as a challenge,” Prieto said in an interview with the Peruvian daily Expreso.
Prieto noted that it is a well-known fact that during his 10 years in Ayacucho, then Archbishop Cipriani worked tirelessly for the people of the region. “They have repeatedly acknowledged this,” he said. Those who want to criticize the cardinal only “want to take away his authority, to keep him from saying what he is courageously saying,” and “they don’t want the cardinal to fully exercise the Church’s Magisterium, as a genuine pastor should.”
Prieto said his book, “The Wheat and the Weeds,” presents 60 testimonies that confirm the impeccable work of the cardinal and show that he was “courageous in speaking and preaching the Gospel, in helping priests and confronting the problems of terrorism. I think the history of the Church in Peru has already documented the courageous actions of the cardinal and his record of service to the rural communities of Ayacucho.”
In 2007 Prieto said he decided to write the book because of the treatment that the final report of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission gave “to some sectors of the Church that had worked in the poorest regions of the Peruvian mountains, such as Huancavelica, Abancay and Ayacucho,” where Cardinal Cipriani was archbishop during the height of terrorism in Peru.
According to the publishers, Prieto’s book relates how the first cardinal from Opus Dei suffered from a conspiracy “since his arrival in Lima in 1999, because of his courageous defense of the rural residents and workers of Ayacucho against the NGOs linked to the defense of the human rights of terrorists.” The book dedicates several chapters to former Minister of Justice, Fernando Olivera, who even took false letters to the Vatican in order to disparage Cardinal Cipriani.