Tampa Bay Times
January 10, 2018
VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican on Wednesday took over a Peru-based Catholic movement whose founder was accused of sexual and psychological abuse, just days before Pope Francis starts a trip to Chile and Peru where the sexual abuse scandal is expected to play out on the sidelines.
A Vatican statement said the congregation for religious orders had issued a decree naming a commissioner to take over the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, a conservative movement that has some 20,000 members and chapters throughout South America and the U.S.
The move came just weeks after Peruvian prosecutors announced they were seeking the arrest of Sodalitium’s founder, Luis Figari.
A journalist and former member of the society began publicly accusing Figari of abuse in 2010. While Figari had never been charged, many of the allegations were confirmed by a Vatican inquiry. Figari was ordered to cut contact with members of the society last year, and has been living in Rome.
He has never provided concrete responses to the accusations. His Peru-based lawyer, Armando Lengua, has said he hasn’t been in contact with Figari, saying he is unreachable in the Sodalitium prayer and retreat house in Rome.
Some of Sodalitium’s victims had denounced the Vatican’s handling of the case, saying in 2017 that the six-year delay in taking any action, and subsequently allowing Figari to live in retirement in Rome, was anything but satisfactory.
In the statement, the Vatican said Francis had followed the Sodalitium saga for years, had asked that the congregation pay particular attention to it and was “particularly concerned about the seriousness of information about the internal regime, the training and financial management.”
The Vatican said the congregation had decided on the “commissioning” of the society after the recent moves by Peruvian prosecutors to arrest Figari and a “profound analysis of all the documentation.”
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