The Sodalitium Christianae Vitae announced Saturday that 66 persons can be considered victims of abuse of mistreatment by members of the community.
The superior general of the community, Alessandro
Moroni Llabres, also said Jan. 21 that the society has set aside more
than $2.8 million in reparations and assistance for victims.
followed the Jan. 16 decision of Peruvian public prosecutor María del
Pilar Peralta Ramírez to drop charges against the founder, Luis Fernando
Figari, and other members of the community. Figari has been accused of
sexual abuse, mistreatment, and abuse of power.
There was a
protest, which included some of the complainants, outside one of the
society's pastoral centers in Lima, rejecting the decision of the
attorney general's office.
The Sodalitium Christianae Vitae is a
society of apostolic life which was founded in 1971 in Peru, and granted
pontifical recognition in 1997. CNA's executive director, Alejandro
Bermúdez, and its director of operations, Ryan Thomas, are both members
of the community.
Cardinal Joseph Tobin of Newark was in May 2016 appointed as the Vatican's delegate
to oversee ongoing reform of the society. The cardinal had previously
served as superior general of the Redemptorists, and secretary of the
Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of
Moroni began his statement saying that he was
delivering it so as “to make known the details of the reparations which
we have already granted because of the moral responsibility we have
before the persons who have suffered because of some members and
ex-members of our organization.”
He pointed out that “when we received the prosecutor's ruling
to dismiss the complaint, we understood that it is a decision based on
the strict framework of criminal law.”
“I would like to remind you
that this investigation did not have as its goal to prove whether there
were or were not victims of wrongdoing by persons connected to our
community, but rather to prove if we are a criminal enterprise, which
has committed kidnapping and serious injuries. The ruling has dismissed
that accusation. That is why we are in agreement with it,” he said.
he recalled that “besides the norms proper to the judicial and
canonical spheres, there is a necessary moral sphere.” In that respect
he reiterated the community's pronouncements recognizing “all the harm
done” by Figari and “condemning his actions and declaring him a persona
“We have also asked for [Figari's] removal from our
community and we have sent all the information on his case to the Holy
See,” he added.
Moroni said that “unfortunately, there's not much
more we can do in this regard. Figari's trial is proceeding in Rome and
we can only wait for the final pronouncement by the Vatican
“On the other hand, we have also recognized that
some members of our community have done much harm and we have taken very
concrete measures to clarify the truth about all these cases,” he
stated. “And this is most important thing: we are maintaining our
commitment to making redress to those who suffered because of this.
Those persons continue to be our priority.”
He recalled that an
Ethics Commission for Justice and Reconciliation was formed in November
2015 at the request of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae so that the
victims “could be welcomed and served in the first instance by highly
respected and objective persons.”
In April 2016, that commission's report detailed an internal culture
of extreme “discipline and obedience to the founder” which was “forged
on the basis of extreme physical demands, as well as physical
punishments, constituting abuses which violated the fundamental rights
Moroni said the ethics commission presented 32 cases
to the Sodalits, and that another team of international experts in abuse
investigations and the care of victims found another 71, “and we have
attended to a total of 103 persons.”
“Of this total, sufficient
elements have been found to consider 66 persons as victims of abuse or
mistreatment of a different nature.”
“To determine if a person can
be considered a victim,” he said, “we did not require any technical or
scientific means of proof, such as would be required in any juridical
investigation. Rather, we made a moral evaluation, considering the
verisimilitude of the testimonies that were received. And in case of
doubt, we have opted to trust the persons who have given us their
He indicated that in 47 cases an agreement for monetary
compensation was reached. Of these, 35 have been completed already,
while the other 12 are still being taken care of.
Five of the victims are in waiting, “because they are part of the judicial process.”
three “have rejected our proposal and one does not want to continue
with the process. There are in addition 10 persons in the process of
receiving a final proposal for reparation.”
compensations, medical or psychological assistance, help to return to
the workforce, and support for some persons whose cases did not
correspond to this process, but who had urgent needs, the amount
approved for this purpose so far totals more than $2,842,000,” or 9.36
million Peruvian soles.
Moroni continued: “For us, the principal
responsibility does not fall upon the Vatican or the Peruvian Church.
Nor does the principal responsibility fall on the Attorney General's
Office; the principal responsibility of seeking the truth and repairing
the damage is OURS.”
“Beyond the lofty complexity of the judicial
and canonical processes, today we want to reaffirm that we are
determined to fulfil our moral responsibility, with all its
consequences,” he stated.
Moroni reiterated the community asks
forgiveness from “everyone who has suffered any kind of abuse or
mistreatment on the part of a member or ex-member of the Sodality, and
also from all of society, which has been understandably indignant.”
the members of our spiritual family and the people of good will who
work daily in our apostolates,” he continued, “we ask forgiveness for
all of the continued suffering in this painful process. We encourage you
to continue trusting in the action of God, who by his infinite mercy
brings forth fruits of conversion, solidarity, and reconciliation among
“Welcoming the truth, however painful it may be, and making
reparation to those who have suffered, we will be able to go forward on
the path of service to which God calls us,” Moroni concluded.
addition to Peru, the community operates in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia,
Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, the United States, and Italy.