Pontifical Catholic University of Peru loses its title

After decades of dialogue, the Holy See has taken the unusual step of stripping the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru of the right to call itself “Pontifical” or “Catholic”.

A Vatican statement said the university had amended its statutes several times since 1967 “in a way which has severely injured the interests of the Church”.

The Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru in Lima is one of Latin America’s leading universities. With its staff including at one time the founder of liberation theology, Gustavo Gutierrez, it has also gained a controversial reputation for progressive thinking.

The university’s motto is “Et lux in tenebris lucet” (And the light shines in darkness). Its website says it holds firm to “a constructive dialogue between reason and faith . . . which is at the service of Christian and Catholic values, as well as of human development and of our nation’s progress”.

In the eyes of the Holy See, however, the university is no longer engaged in its original mission.

“Since 1990, the university has repeatedly been urged by the Holy See to conform its statutes to the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae. It has not lived up to that legal duty,” said the Vatican Secretariat of State.

Ex Corde Ecclesiae, promulgated by Pope John Paul II in 1990, spelt out the guidelines on what is expected of an authentically Catholic university.

The Vatican said the rector of the university had twice “expressed his inability to implement the requirements, conditioning the change of the statutes to the renunciation of the right of the archdiocese to participate in the administration of the university”.

The university’s refusal to allow the Archbishop of Lima a seat on its governing board — despite a Peruvian high court ruling that he was entitled to it — has been a key issue in the dispute.

The university was founded in 1917 with the ecclesiastical approval of the then Archbishop of Lima, and given canonical status in 1942.


Vatican Radio

Vatican Insider

Pontificia Universidad Catolica del Peru

Image: Peru this Week

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