February 23, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The Vatican has issued an ultimatum to a Peruvian Catholic university known for its deviation from Church teaching, giving it a deadline of April 8 to change its statutes to bring it into conformity with Church law.

Although the Holy See’s communique on the matter, displayed on its website, does not state what the consequences would be should the institution fail to comply, various Peruvian publications and broadcasters are reporting that the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP) would be required to jettison the words “Pontifical” and “Catholic” from its name.

The ultimatum follows months of talks between Vatican officials and the wayward institution, which employs professors that speak against the Catholic Church’s moral doctrines regarding abortion and homosexuality.

The Holy See ordered the PUCP to change its statutes in July of last year to submit to Church control after decades of resistance, and is now indicating that it is no longer willing to wait.

Following a meeting this week between the university’s rector, Marcial Rubio Correa, and the Vatican’s Secretary of State, Tarcicio Bertone, “the Most Eminent Secretary of State has notified Doctor Rubio Correa that the statutes of the PUCP must be regularized as soon as possible, conforming them to the Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae, for the good of the same PUCP and the Church in Peru,” Vatican Radio reported yesterday.

“Given the evident importance of safeguarding the Catholic identity of the University, the Most Eminent Secretary of State has therefore asked that the competent academic authorities present, before the next April 8, Easter Sunday, the statutes with the amendments required of the university on the 16th of July, 2011, for their approval,” the report added.

In addition to losing its Catholic and Pontifical titles, the PUCP could lose far more, according to canon lawyer Fernán Altuve. It could also lose the inheritance that was left to the institution in the 1940s on condition that it function as a Catholic institution.

“If you’re not a Catholic university and you don’t have the recognition of the Vatican, you cannot use that for the purposes of Catholic education. So, you have to return those properties,” Altuve told the Peruvian daily El Cormercio in a recent interview. The property, he said, would therefore “revert to the Archdiocese of Lima.”

University defiant

Despite the warning, the University’s administration is maintaining a defiant tone, citing the decision of the University Assembly, the “highest instance of (university) government” last September 23, “to not approve the modifications to the statutes of the University, because they go against our autonomy.”

“Our university is regulated by the Political Constitution of Peru, by Peruvian legislation, and its statutes,” the PUCP adds.

The Church’s Apostolic Constitution Ex Corde Ecclesiae requires the university to operate in conformity with the teaching authority of the Catholic Church. It states, “In ways appropriate to the different academic disciplines, all Catholic teachers are to be faithful to, and all other teachers are to respect, Catholic doctrine and morals in their research and teaching. In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the Magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition.”

The same Constitution requires a majority of the faculty to consist of faithful Catholics, and mandates that the university provide students with “formation in moral and religious principles and the social teachings of the Church.” Despite the PUCP’s “Catholic” title, its administration appears reluctant to accept such principles.

“The university supports the Church, but respects diversity. There are diverse ways of living Catholicism. We have a more social theology, and this is disliked in the most conservative sectors,” Marcial Rubio, the university’s rector, said last year as the conflict began.

“They want to intervene when it is believed that a professor doesn’t have a moral conduct that they consider correct,” the university’s Vice-Rector for Research, Pepi Patron Costa, told the BBC last year. “It is direct interference. For certain sectors of the Catholic Church we are not sufficiently Catholic.”

Students are also organizing protests, claiming that the whole affair is nothing more than an attempt by Lima’s archbishop Juan Luis Cipriani to seize the university for himself. Although the statutes of the university technically recognize him as Grand Chancellor, his attempts to bring the PUCP into conformity with Church law have been repeatedly rebuffed, and he is not permitted to pick the rector under current statutes. The Vatican is seeking to restore his right to do so, which was taken from the archbishop of Peru in the 1970s.

“Promoters of abortion and gender ideology”

Carlos Polo, a Peruvian Catholic who heads the Latin America office of the Population Research Institute, and who received his degree in Social Anthropology from the PUCP in 1987, told LifeSiteNews that the university has been the stomping ground of radical leftists for decades.

“Many of the principal promoters of abortion and gender ideology in Peru work in the University or in the institutes that depend on it.  Many of the NGOs with this anti-life ideology receive financing from the University or receive its academic support,” said Polo.

“The attitude of the authorities of the University is absolutely contrary to the spirit of Catholicism. They have ignored the request to reformulate their statutes that was made for the first time almost 30 years ago through the (Papal) Nuncio,” Polo said.

“They publicly insult Cardinal Cipriani, who is the Great Chancellor of the University and they promote protests that are injurious to the students against the Cardinal and against the Catholic Church in general, and they have misinformed the public, repeating that their statutes are in accordance with Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Today, following the ultimatum of Rome, it is clear that they were far from the truth.”

The firm actions of the Holy See with regard to the PUCP may signal a new approach to Catholic universities worldwide, many of which rejected episcopal oversight and Catholic doctrine in the chaos of the 1970s. Today, many universities with “Catholic” in their titles play host to professors who actively work to subvert Church teachings, especially those regarding the right to life and sexual morality.