After the publication of “Half Monks, Half Soldiers,” the Holy See appointed Bishop Fortunato Pablo Urcey, Prelate of Chota, as Apostolic Visitor to investigate the complaints against Figari in Peru, and he sent his report to Rome in April 2016.
In its responses to ACI Prensa, the Sodalitium recalled that “in May 2016 the Holy See appointed Cardinal Joseph Tobin, current archbishop of Newark, NJ as Delegate to guide the governing of the Sodalitium. Finally, in January 2018, the Holy See appointed the bishop of Jericó, Colombia, Noel Londoño, as Pontifical Commissioner for the Sodalitium, and Friar Guillermo Rodríguez, OFM, as Deputy Commissioner.”
"The commissioner is the highest level of intervention in a community, because it entails the cessation of all authority of the Sodalitium," the SVC explained.
During this process, Figari, who had already left his position as superior general, was found guilty of multiple cases of sexual and psychological abuse and removed from community life. Further punitive measures, such as his expulsion from the community he founded, are in the hands of the Holy See.
“The Commissioner and his Deputy directed the community up to its Fifth General Assembly, which was held in Aparecida, Brazil, in January 2019. After the election of new authorities and the application of operational modifications requested by the Holy See, Bishop Londoño, before the image of Our Lady of Aparecida, officially announced the end of the SCV being under the commissioner.”
As the Sodalitium explained to ACI Prensa, the Holy See has continued to accompany the community, through three assistants: for governance, Fray Guillermo Rodríguez; for formation, Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ; and for temporal affairs, Cardinal Tobin.
Among her various articles on the SVC, Allen regularly cites Paola Ugaz, a correspondent in Lima for the Spanish newspaper ABC, and co-author of “Half Monks, Half Soldiers.” In her article “Victims’ lawyer says scandal-plagued lay group could soon be dissolved,” Allen asserts that Ugaz “has faced an onslaught of legal complaints from individuals and organizations associated with the SCV.”
Peruvian judicial authorities are investigating Ugaz for money laundering, an accusation that has to do with her time as the "Head of Social Media" for the Metropolitan Municipality of Lima, between January 2013 and January 2014, during the administration of former socialist mayor Susana Villarán.
Villarán spent two years in pretrial detention between 2019 and 2021, and is currently under subpoena while investigations continue into alleged illicit links with the construction companies Odebrecht, OAS, and Graña y Montero.
According to the Peruvian newspaper Expreso, the Public Prosecutor’s Office ordered at the beginning of this year that the investigations of Ugaz and others suspected of "belonging to an alleged criminal network" along with Villarán be extended until 2023.
In an unrelated case, the other author of "Half Monks, Half Soldiers," Pedro Salinas, a former member of the Sodalitium, is also being investigated by the Peruvian Prosecutor's Office, for allegedly having unduly benefited from a contract for a "communications consultancy" with the Public Prosecutor’s Office in 2018.
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Both Ugaz and Salinas have stated in various Peruvian and international media that their current legal problems are a “conspiracy” by the SCV; that the situation within the Sodalitium hasn’t changed since the publication of their book, and they have alleged financial mismanagement within the institution.
The response from the SCV denies any connection with the legal problems of the authors and that "the current authorities (of the SCV), chosen because they didn’t maintain any relationship with Luis Fernando Figari, have promoted a particular concern for the spiritual life, safe environments for fraternal life and the apostolic works and projects continue to be promoted.”
"The authorities have also ensured compliance with the decrees and guidelines that the Fifth General Assembly of the SCV entrusted them to carry out, among which stand out the beginning of a review process of the current constitutions, the preparation of the document of the Ratio Formationis, the priority concern for the initial formation of community members, where the issues of abuse prevention and good practices stand out, among others.”
In this process, the current superior general of the SVC, José David Correa, “meets regularly with the authorities of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life. (CICLSAL) During this period of government, he has visited these authorities on several occasions to keep them up to date on the progress of the community.”
"In October 2021, the Superior had a private audience with the Holy Father, where he was able to inform Pope Francis about the progress of the community in the most relevant aspects," the institution added.
The Sodalitium pointed out that "at that same time", during a week of work in Rome together with the Secretary of the CICLSAL, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, Fr. Ghirlanda said that "without a doubt I see progress in the work” and that things are proceeding “quite calmly in the Commission. It seems to me that this first part is quite mature and that is why I am happy and I feel positive in regard to the work of the Commission. We have worked well.”