.- The General Secretary of the Bishops Conference of Peru, Bishop Juan Jose Larrañeta, told reporters this week the Peruvian bishops just want to find out the truth about the attempt to besmirch the Archbishop of Lima, Cardinal Juan Luis Cripriani and the Apostolic Nuncio, Archbishop Rino Passigato. This week, a lawyer accused Bishop Jorge Carrion of Puno, and by implication the bishop emeritus of Chimbote, Bishop Luis Bambaren, of falsifying three letters that were delivered to the Vatican in 2001 by then Minister of Justice, Fernando Olivera, which accused Cardinal Cipriani and the Nuncio of ties to the corrupt government of former Prime Minister Alberto Fujimori.
After the Vatican declared the letters to be fakes, the Peruvian government was forced to apologize to Cardinal Cipriani and the Apostolic Nuncio and to launch an official investigation, since the incident sullied the State’s image.
In addition to accusing Bishop Bambaren of crimes against the public faith through document forgery, Attorney Mirtha Salinas also named as part of her lawsuit Juan Rojas Saavedra, a former employee of the Bishops Conference, and former Ambassador Augusto Dammert Leon, a collaborator of the Bishops Conference.
Bishop Bambaren, ex-president of the Conference, admitted to reporters that he made “a mistake” by not notifying Cardinal Cipriani at the time that the letters shown to him by Minister Olivera tied him to the mafia of ex-presidential adviser Vladimiro Montesinos, who is currently in prison. However, he denied any involvement in the forgeries.
Bishop Larrañeta stated that the “Church is uncomfortable” with the lawsuit but that “the only thing to do is respect the law, although this incident does not bode well for the Church.”
He said that as bishops the only thing to do is “wait for the results and see how the process of making a decision will unfold.”
He also added that on September 21, the Executive Committee of the Bishops Conference will meet to more fully analyze the accusations against the two bishops.
Bishop Larrañeta concluded by saying the Conference may issue an official statement on Tuesday “if it is deemed pertinent.”