VATICAN CITY – With Pope Francis’ visit to Peru on the horizon, the Vatican decided on Wednesday to assume control of a controversial Peruvian Catholic organization that has recently found itself at the heart of a fresh child abuse scandal implicating its leader and founder.
A statement from the Vatican press office said a Colombian bishop would be appointed commissioner for the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, or Christian Life Society, in the wake of a judicial case opened by Peruvian prosecutors into allegations that the organization’s senior officials and its founder, Luis Fernando Figari, had sexually and psychologically abused young men, including children.
“The Pope has shown himself to be particularly attentive to the seriousness of the information concerning the internal regime, formation and economic and financial management,” the statement said.
“In addition to this, a series of measures have recently been adopted by the Peruvian judicial authority against Mr. Luis Fernando Figari,” it continued.
A report conducted by the Society in coordination with foreign experts identified at least 36 people, including 19 minors, who were allegedly abused by members of the organization, including by Figari himself, between 1975-2002.
An arrest warrant for Figari, 69, as part of the investigation in Peru, remained in place, although the religious leader, supposedly in ill health, remained in a secret location in Rome, Italy.
The case has also implicated Virgilio Levaggi, Jeffrey Daniels and Daniel Murguía, who all held high-ranking positions in the Society.
Meanwhile, United States cardinal, Joseph W. Tobin, would lead an investigation into supposed shortcomings in the Society’s failing internal management, particularly in terms of economic, the statement said.