Vatican: no decision yet on discipline for founder of Peru-based lay movement

Catholic Culture
April 18, 2016

The Vatican has indicated that no disciplinary action will be taken against the founder of the Society of Christian Life until an apostolic visitation of the lay movement has been concluded.

Luis Fernando Figari, who founded the movement in Peru in 1971, has been accused of multiple charges of sexual abuse of members. Figari stepped down as leader of the movement in 2011, but has continued to live in a house of the Society in Rome.

Last week Alessandro Morono Llabres, the group’s new leader, demanded Figari’s “immediate separation from our community,” saying that an internal investigation had concluded that the founder was “guilty of the abuses of which he is accused.”

However the Crux news site reports that the Vatican is awaiting a report from Bishop Fortunato Pablo Urcey, who was appointed last year to conduct an apostolic visitation of the movement. That report is believed to be imminent. Until the Vatican investigation is concluded, however, Figari will remain at the Society’s house in Rome, at the Vatican’s request.

In Peru, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima told Crux that the “really rotten leadership” of the Society has made it necessary to undertake a thorough reform of the lay movement—especially since the current leaders of the group were formed under the corrupt regime that allowed Figari to exercise his authority despite evidence of misconduct. The reform will have to be guided from outside the movement, the cardinal said, suggesting the sort of process that has been undergone by the Legionaries of Christ. But Cardinal Cipriani said that the Society should not be suppressed. “They’ve done wrong, and they have to be corrected,” he said; “but not destroyed.”


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