The Vatican has given the Pontifical University of Peru until Easter 2012 to comply with the Church’s requirements for Catholic colleges, marking the first time the Holy See has set a deadline for a university to reform.
“Given the evident importance of safeguarding the Catholic identity of the university, the Cardinal Secretary of State requested that the competent academic authorities present the statutes for approval by Easter Sunday, April 8,” a Feb. 21 communiqué issued by the Holy See Press Office says.
The statement followed a meeting in Rome this morning between the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, and Marcial Rubio, the rector of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru.
Their discussions were largely based upon an investigation of the university carried out Dec. 5 -11, 2011 by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest. He traveled to Peru, where he found the Lima-based institution to be at odds with the Catholic Church in several significant areas of policy.
University officials have been refusing to comply with the Church’s guidelines for Catholic universities, which were laid out the papal document “Ex Corde Ecclesiae.” The apostolic constitution was promulgated in 1990 by Pope John Paul II to clarify what is expected of an authentically Catholic university.
The university has also defied a ruling by the Peruvian civil courts to give the Archdiocese of Lima a seat on its board of directors.
While today’s communiqué says Cardinal Bertone praised the “assiduous and generous commitment shown by various members of the university in the formation of students,” it also makes clear that he called for changes to be made.
The Secretary of State told Rubio that the Vatican want the statutes of the university to be “regularized as soon as possible, adapting them to the Apostolic Constitution ‘Ex Corde Ecclesiae.’”
Cardinal Bertone stated that this is being done “for the good of the Pontifical University of Peru itself and of the Church in Peru.”
If the university chooses not to comply with today’s Vatican recommendations, it could be stripped of its status as a pontifical university. Furthermore, the original donor who provided the land for the university stipulated that if the pontifical university is closed, the property would pass to the Archdiocese of Lima.
Cardinal Bertone said he hopes that “the academic community would accept these indications” outlined today so that the university “may increasingly dedicate itself to its mission of offering young people a solid formation, rooted in faithfulness to the Magisterium.” He told Rubio that this would guarantee “the great contribution the university is called to make to the country.”
The Pontifical University of Peru was founded in 1917 and was awarded its pontifical status by Pope Pius XII in 1942. It currently has over 16,000 undergraduate students and is regarded as one of the top universities in Peru.
Its alumni include President Ollanta Humala of Peru, as well as his immediate predecessor, Alan García, and the former Secretary General of the United Nations, Javier Pérez de Cuéllar.
In 1986 the university gave an honorary doctorate to Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI.