Reporter Diana Seminario of the Peruvian newspaper El Comercio recently exhorted Catholics in Peru to not remain silent and to defend the Church and her leaders against the attacks being leveled by the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru and some government officials.
“Peru is a majority Catholic country that is respectful of other confessions. According to the latest census, of its 28,220,763 inhabitants, 22,943,479 are Catholic, that is, 81.3 percent. Evangelical Christians represent 12.5 percent of the population, those of other religions 3.3 percent and those of no religion 2.9 percent. The statistics speak for themselves, and consequently this is not a question of perception,” she said in her Oct. 8 article.
“However,” she warned, “just as in other parts of the world, here as well the minority is louder than the majority, as in recent weeks we have been witnesses of an assault against the Catholic Church and against everything she represents, which undoubtedly constitutes an attack against the high percentage of Peruvians who say they are Catholic.”
Seminario said the attacks took on greater ferocity in light of the controversy between the university and the Church, represented by the Archdiocese of Lima. “Since then, there has been no letup in the attacks against Catholicism and the leader of the Church in Peru (Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani).”
The conflict between the university and the archdiocese has centered on the university’s refusal to follow a directive from the Vatican to modify its statutes in accord with the Church’s teaching on Catholic universities outlined in the document “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.”
“Since then, the strategy has been to discredit the archbishop, when in reality the conflict is with the Vatican. The archbishop is temporary and the Church has been around for more than 2,000 years,” she said.
The latest official to join in the attacks on the Church is ironically the government’s anti-corruption czar, Julio Arbizu, who defended the university and called Cardinal Cipriani and the Church “a burden to a free, modern and full society.”
“Arbizu is free to say whatever he wants, but it is sad that a citizen who has been appointed to an office supposedly because of his merits and achievements would offend an institution that embraces the majority of Peruvians in this way,” Seminario said.
“Arbizu is now part of a government that should be respectful and tolerant of the different faiths that coexist in our country,” she added.
For this reason, she encouraged Catholics to speak out against the attacks. “If we don’t say anything now, we can’t complain later when state officials attack and insult different people and institutions and defend themselves under the guise of ‘personal opinion.’”