Vatican City, Nov 4, 2021 / 14:45 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis received in a private audience at the Vatican Oct. 30 José David Correa González, superior general of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, an institute of consecrated life that is reforming its constitution under the guidance of Vatican authorities.
“During the meeting, our superior general shared with the pope the changes that are being made in view of the comprehensive renewal of our community after the election of our new authorities in the Fifth General Assembly of January 2019,” the Sodalitium said in a Nov. 3 statement.
The Sodalitium Christianae Vitae was founded in 1971 in Peru, and granted pontifical recognition in 1997. CNA’s executive director, Alejandro Bermúdez, is a member of the community.
In the statement, the Superior General of the Sodalitium thanked the pope for the “support that the Holy See has been providing to our community throughout these years through the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, especially through their delegates.”
The pontifical delegates working with the Sodalitium are Fr. Guillermo Rodríguez, OFM, delegate for general government; Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda, SJ, delegate for formation and advisor for the reform of the constitutions; and Cardinal Joseph Tobin, CSsR, Archbishop of Newark and delegate for financial affairs.
The statement adds that Correa “informed the Holy Father about the current situation of Luis Fernando Figari, who founded the Sodalitium, as well as the status of compliance with the measures that were given by the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life in 2017.”
Figari stepped down as superior general in 2010, after allegations surfaced that he had committed serial acts of abuse while leading the community. In January 2017 the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life prohibited Figari from having any contact with other members of the society after it was found that he had sexually and psychologically abused members and committed other abuses of power.
Figari was found guilty of sexual abuse and was sanctioned by the Holy See. He currently lives in Italy.
The five measures established by the Vatican in 2017, which were ratified in 2019, are that Figari “not return to Peru, except for very serious reasons and always with its written permission”; that he “is permanently assigned to a residence where there is no Sodalitium community”; that “he is forbidden to contact, in any way, people belonging to the Sodalitium, and in no case to have direct personal contact with them.”
The conditions also stipulate that “a member of the Sodalitium be entrusted with the task of being the person to whom Mr. Figari should refer for any eventuality and requirement.”
In the communiqué, the Sodalitium explained that the superior general shared with Pope Francis “what the Sodalitium’s situation is in the various cities of the nine countries where we carry out our apostolic service” and that “they talked about the changes introduced in initial formation and the renewal of the Ratio Formationis, the basic document of all Sodalitium formation.”
“Similarly, they discussed the progress of the Commission for the Review of the Constitutions, which has just concluded a meeting in Rome.”
The statement also notes that “the Holy Father also received from our superior general updated documentation on the process of listening to the victims, caring for them and making reparations, as well as the actions carried out in line with the prevention of abuse within the communities and the apostolic works of the Sodalitium.”
Correa also gave Pope Francis information “on the situation of the current legal processes in Peru” and “on the financial situation of the Sodalitium, which is audited and sent periodically to our pontifical delegate, Cardinal Joseph Tobin.”
Correa has also met on several occasions in Rome with the secretary of the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, Archbishop José Rodríguez Carballo, OFM, and has attended the meetings of the Commission for the Review of the Constitutions that were developed in early October in Rome.
A February 2017 report by a team of independent investigators commissioned by the Sodalitium detailed detail sexual, physical, and psychological abuses committed by members of the community, both those who had left the community and those who then remained in it.
Correa was selected as superior general of the Sodalitium in January 2019. A Colombian, he is the first non-Peruvian superior general of the community.
At the conclusion of its 2019 General Assembly, at which Correa was selected as superior general, the Sodalitium issued a statement of “forgiveness and reconciliation” in which it lamented the cases of abuse committed by some of its members and by Figari.
“We strongly condemn, and at the same time with pain and shame, the abuses committed by him; the abuse of his authority, his lack of respect for freedom, the physical and psychological abuses, the sexual abuse, which were denounced and investigated by our community and the Holy See,” the statement said.