The Sodalitium case
Founded in 1971 by the Peruvian layman Luis Fernando Figari, and with pontifical approval since 1997, the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae (SCV) has been involved in various accusations of sexual abuse and and the abuse of power.
In 2011, the SCV confirmed that its late vicar general, Germán Doig, Figari’s right-hand man, had engaged in sexual misconduct.
In November 2015, the book “Half Monks, Half Soldiers,” by Peruvian journalists Pedro Salinas and Paola Ugaz, made allegations of abuses committed by Figari himself.
The Holy See investigated the case and in February 2017 determined that Figari had adopted “an excessively or inappropriately authoritarian style of government, aimed at imposing one’s own will” and “used inappropriate strategies and methods of persuasion, that is, underhanded, arrogant, and in any case violent and disrespectful of the right to the inviolability of one’s own interiority and discretion.”
In addition, it concluded that Figari “in some cases has committed acts contrary to the Sixth Commandment” (sexual morality) to manipulate, make dependent, and “control rather than direct consciences, especially of young people in formation.”
The sanctions imposed by the Vatican include that Figari not return to Peru, except for serious reasons, and that he be permanently assigned to a residence where there is no Sodalitium community, whose members he is prohibited from contacting.
In January 2018, the Vatican appointed an apostolic commissioner for the SCV. This is the highest level of intervention carried out by the Holy See on a Catholic institution because it entails the cessation of all authority in that institution.
This process culminated a year later with the election of new authorities in the Sodalitium, including its new superior general, the Colombian José David Correa González.
Currently, the Sodalitium is accompanied by papal delegates appointed by the Vatican: Friar Guillermo Rodríguez, delegate “ad nutum,” whose role is to advise and support the superior general and the general government; Cardinal Gianfranco Ghirlanda, consultant for the Process of Revision of the Sodalitium Constitutions and delegate for formation, and Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin of the Archdiocese of Newark, delegate to address financial issues.
Various accusations against Figari and other members of the Sodalitium have been addressed by the prosecutor’s office in Peru. In some cases they have been dismissed, while in others appeals have been filed and remain in the hands of the judiciary.
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ACI Prensa is a Catholic news agency founded in 1980 by the late Comboni missionary Father Adalberto María Mohn. The agency’s next director was Alejandro Bermúdez, a consecrated layman of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae who retired at the end of 2022 and was succeeded by Kelsey Wicks earlier this year. Since 2014, ACI Prensa has been part of EWTN through its EWTN News division, which maintains and directs its operations.
ACI Prensa Editor-in-Chief David Ramos also contributed to this article.
This story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.