The Archdiocese of Lima defended Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani's right to speak on life issues during the country's recent presidential elections.
“The Catholic Church’s mission is to bring the message of Christ to the ends of the earth, to preserve and spread her social doctrine, which includes, among other things, the defense of life, the family and marriage between one man and one woman,” the archdiocese said.
In a letter sent June 6 to the Spanish daily, El Pais, the archdiocese referred to a story previously published by the newspaper titled, “Churches also vote.” The article, the archdiocese charged, contained “inaccuracies.”
The story accused Cardinal Cipriani of being a right-wing supporter of Keiko Fujimori, who lost to Ollanta Humala. The article also referred to the cardinal as “the most powerful figure of the Church.”
Consequently, Cardinal Cipriani, “by defending these principles, was not engaging in politics. He was defending a superior natural right, and doing so with the truth and the faith,” the archdiocese retorted.
It also pointed out that Peruvian author Mario Vargas Llosa insulted the cardinal in an interview published by the Spanish daily La Vanguardia on April 11.
Cardinal Cipriani’s only response was to demand respect.
The attacks on Cardinal Cipriani by Vargas Llosa led various bishops in Peru, as well as Franciscan leaders, auxiliary bishops and the priests of Lima, to express their solidarity and appreciation to the cardinal in a number of public statements.
“Institutionally, the Catholic Church speaks through her bishops,” the archdiocese said. “Nobody can claim to represent all of the bishops except the Pope.”
On June 2, three days before the runoff election, La Republica quoted the president of the Bishops’ Conference of Peru, Archbishop Miguel Cabrejos of Trujillo, as saying that Cardinal Cipriani was not unbiased with regards to the election.
It also claimed he said, “The Archbishop of Lima is the Archbishop of Lima, just as the Archbishop of Piura is the Archbishop of Piura. But the Church’s representative in each country, whether it be Ecuador, Peru or Chile, is the president of the bishops’ conference.”
However, Archbishop Jose Antonio Eguren of Piura explained that he was skeptical Archbishop Cabrejos was accurately quoted by the newspaper.
“I fear his statements about who represents the Church in a given country were distorted because Archbishop Cabrejos knows full well that teaching of the Catholic Church on episcopal conferences is totally contrary to what the article says. There is no such thing as a national Church with a formal representative in the country. The national level is not an ecclesial dimension, as Pope Benedict XVI has pointed out,” he said.
“The bishop who presides over the episcopal conference of a country or a region can only speak in the name of all only if each one of them has expressly given him consent.”