The Archdiocese of Lima issued a statement clarifying the decision by Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani to strip local priest Father Gaston Garatea of his ministerial faculties.
On May 16, the archdiocese condemned what it called a “campaign of misinformation and discredit” launched against the cardinal by some in the media, stating that the priest is still able to exercise priestly ministry outside the cardinal's jurisdiction.
Father Garatea – a member of the religious order titled the Congregation of the Sacred Heart – was privately sanctioned in recent days by Cardinal Cipriani over his public support for homosexual activists and criticism of priestly celibacy.
The priest has also maintained a tense relationship with Church officials in Lima over his promotion of liberation theology.
Adding to the controversy, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru named Fr. Garatea an honorary professor on May 14, saying his new role would be as an advisor to the school on “social responsibility” due to “his commitment to the defense of human rights, equality and tolerance.”
The archdiocese clarified that the cardinal's handling of the case and the decision to strip the priest of his faculties “has been conducted with utmost prudence regarding the Church’s norms, and in a climate of charity.”
Below is the full statement from the archdiocese:
“In response to the obvious campaign of misinformation and discredit that has been launched over the decision not to renew the ministerial faculties of Father Jorge Gaston Garatea Yori, SS.CC., in the Archdiocese of Lima, out of respect for the truth and for his own good, we feel obliged to state the following:
According to the proper norms of the Catholic Church, religious priests who belong to a religious Institution of consecrated life report to their Superior General, with regard to the internal regimen of the religious community in question.
However, in order to carry out pastoral work in a specific jurisdiction, they require that the local ordinary, the bishop, grant them the corresponding ministerial faculties (cf. Canon 265). In this sense, the local bishop, for sufficient reasons made known ahead of time to the Superior General of religious community in question, may determine that a religious priest can no longer work in his ecclesiastic jurisdiction. This action, as in the case of Father Jorge Gaston Garatea Yori, SS. CC., does not suspend the religious priest or prohibit him from exercising his priestly ministry in other places.
The universal praxis of the Church is fully recognized by Canon Law and is a very important expression that reinforces the unity of priests with their own pastor and local ordinary (cf. Canons 273 and 275).
We disapprove that some persons, whose aims are totally unrelated to this situation that has been handed with utmost prudence regarding the Church’s norms, and in a climate of charity, now seek to victimize a priest for the sole purpose of sowing confusion, damaging his priestly identity and at the same time in order to publicize the ideological reasons that motivate them and distance them from fidelity to the Church, with statements and manifestations that reflect their rejection, or at least, their lack of respect, for the Magisterium of the Church and her pastors.”