He is a member of the controversial "Sodalicio" movement

Only 67 years old: Pope Francis accepts resignation of bishop

Vatican City/Piura - Bishops must offer their resignation to the Pope at the age of 75. It is rather unusual for them to resign before then. In the case of a bishop from Peru, his membership of a controversial movement could be the reason for his resignation.

Published  on 03.04.2024 at 11:11  – 

Pope Francis has accepted the resignation of Peruvian Archbishop José Antonio Eguren Anselmi. The Vatican announced the head of the church's decision on Tuesday. The acceptance of the resignation is unusual, as Eguren is only 67 years old. According to canon law, bishops must normally offer their resignation to the Pope at the age of 75. The Vatican did not provide any background information on the resignation of Eguren, who had been Archbishop of Piura since 2006.

However, as Eguren belongs to the controversial "Sodalitium Christianae Vitae" movement, there is an obvious link to the abuse scandal surrounding the community in Peru. In 2015, journalists published research in which they accused the movement of decades of sexual and psychological abuse. However, the allegations, which had been rumoured for years, were not pursued by the bishops, probably because the community has great influence in the Peruvian church. In 2023, Pope Francis sent two special investigators to the Andean country to clarify the allegations. The Peruvian Bishops' Conference welcomed the Vatican investigation at the time.

Eguren comments on resignation

Eguren commented on his resignation in a statement on Tuesday: "I would like to express my gratitude to the successors of St Peter, who placed their trust in me and to whom I have always endeavoured to serve with filial affection and obedience." During his time in office, he had always endeavoured to do justice to his task as bishop and to serve the poor in particular, said Eguren. He described the "Sodalitium" movement as his home, which had taught him to love the Church.

The community, usually called "Sodalicio" in Spanish, was founded in Peru in 1971. The lay community, to which many clerics also belong, quickly made a name for itself as a conservative counterweight to progressive liberation theology in the country. Pope John Paul II supported the community and elevated it to an association of pontifical right in 1997. From 2018 to 2019, Pope Francis appointed a provisional leadership of the movement. The founder, Luis Fernando Figari, is said to have been responsible for sexual offences against minors and adults. Following an intervention by the Vatican, Figari was banned from having any contact with members of the "Sodalicio" in 2017. He lives in Italy and has been evading Peruvian justice for years. (rom)