Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

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Vatican gives ultimatum to wayward Catholic university: conform to Church law by April 8

Matthew Cullinan Hoffman
Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

February 23, 2012 ( - 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.

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Today’s chuckle: Rubio, Fiorina and Carson pardon a Thanksgiving turkey

Steve Jalsevac Steve Jalsevac Follow Steve
By Steve Jalsevac

A little bit of humour now and then is a good thing.

Happy Thanksgiving to all our American readers.

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Building of the European Court of Human Rights.
Lianne Laurence


BREAKING: Europe’s top human rights court slaps down German ban on pro-life leafletting

Lianne Laurence
By Lianne Laurence

STRASBOURG, France, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – The European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that a German regional court violated a pro-life activist’s freedom of expression when it barred him from leafleting in front of an abortion center.

It further ruled the German court’s order that Klaus Gunter Annen not list the names of two abortion doctors on his website likewise violated the 64-year-old pro-life advocate’s right to freedom of expression.

The court’s November 26 decision is “a real moral victory,” says Gregor Puppinck, director of the Strasbourg-based European Center for Law and Justice, which intervened in Annen’s case. “It really upholds the freedom of speech for pro-life activists in Europe.”

Annen, a father of two from Weinam, a mid-sized city in the Rhine-Neckar triangle, has appealed to the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights at least two times before, Puppinck told LifeSiteNews.

“This is the first time he made it,” he said, noting that this time around, Annen had support from the ECLJ and Alliance Defense Fund and the German Pro-life Federation (BVL). “I think he got more support, better arguments and so I think this helped.”

The court also ordered the German government to pay Annen costs of 13,696.87 EUR, or 14,530 USD.

Annen started distributing pamphlets outside a German abortion center ten years ago, ECLJ stated in a press release.

His leaflets contained the names and addresses of the two abortionists at the center, declared they were doing “unlawful abortions,” and stated in smaller print that, “the abortions were allowed by the German legislators and were not subject to criminal liability.”

Annen’s leaflets also stated that, “The murder of human beings in Auschwitz was unlawful, but the morally degraded NS State allowed the murder of innocent people and did not make it subject to criminal liability.” They referred to Annen’s website,, which listed a number of abortionists, including the two at the site he was leafleting.

In 2007, a German regional court barred Annen from pamphleteering in the vicinity of the abortion center, and ordered him to drop the name of the two abortion doctors from his website.

But the European Court of Human Rights ruled Thursday that the German courts had "failed to strike a fair balance between [Annen’s] right to freedom of expression and the doctor’s personality rights.”

The Court stated that, “there can be no doubt as to the acute sensitivity of the moral and ethical issues raised by the question of abortion or as to the importance of the public interest at stake.”

That means, stated ECLJ, that “freedom of expression in regard to abortion shall enjoy a full protection.”

ECLJ stated that the court noted Annen’s leaflets “made clear that the abortions performed in the clinic were not subject to criminal liability. Therefore, the statement that ‘unlawful abortions’ were being performed in the clinic was correct from a legal point of view.”

As for the Holocaust reference, the court stated that, “the applicant did not – at least not explicitly – equate abortion with the Holocaust.”  Rather, the reference was “a way of creating awareness of the more general fact that law might diverge from morality.”

The November 26 decision “is a quite good level of protection of freedom of speech for pro-life people,” observed Puppinck.

First, the European Court of Human Rights has permitted leafleting “in the direct proximate vicinity of the clinic, so there is no issue of zoning,” he told LifeSiteNews. “And second, the leaflets were mentioning the names of the doctors, and moreover, were mentioning the issue of the Holocaust, which made them quite strong leaflets.”

“And the court protected that.”

Annen has persevered in his pro-life awareness campaign through the years despite the restraints on his freedom.

“He did continue, and he did adapt,” Puppinck told LifeSiteNews. “He kept his freedom of speech as much as he could, but he continued to be sanctioned by the German authorities, and each time he went to the court of human rights. And this time, he won.”

ECLJ’s statement notes that “any party” has three months to appeal the November 26 decision.

However, as it stands, the European Court of Human Rights’s ruling affects “all the national courts,” noted Puppinck, and these will now “have to protect freedom of speech, recognize the freedom of speech for pro-lifers.”

“In the past, the courts have not always been very supportive of the freedom of speech of pro-life,” he said, so the ruling is “significant.”

As for Annen’s pro-life ministry, Pubbinck added: “He can continue to go and do, and I’m sure that he does, because he always did.”  

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A vibrant church in Africa. Pierre-Yves Babelon /
Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete

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‘Soft racism’: German Bishops’ website attributes African Catholics’ strong faith to simplemindedness

Pete Baklinski Pete Baklinski Follow Pete
By Pete Baklinski

GERMANY, November 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) --  The only reason the Catholic Church is growing in Africa is because the people have a “rather low level” of education and accept “simple answers to difficult questions” involving marriage and sexuality, posited an article on the official website of the German Bishops' Conference posted yesterday. The article targeted particularly Cardinal Robert Sarah of Guinea, the Vatican's prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and ardent defender of Catholic tradition.

First Things blogger Leroy Huizenga, who translated a portion of the article, criticized the article's view as “soft racism.”

In his article, titled “The Romantic, Poor Church,” editor Björn Odendahl writes: 

So also in Africa. Of course the Church is growing there. It grows because the people are socially dependent and often have nothing else but their faith. It grows because the educational situation there is on average at a rather low level and the people accept simple answers to difficult questions (of faith) [sic]. Answers like those that Cardinal Sarah of Guinea provides. And even the growing number of priests is a result not only of missionary power but also a result of the fact that the priesthood is one of the few possibilities for social security on the dark continent.

Huizenga said that such an article has no place on a bishops’ conference website. 

“We all know that the German Bishops' Conference is one of the most progressive in the world. But it nevertheless beggars belief that such a statement would appear on the Conference's official website, with its lazy slander of African Christians and priests as poor and uneducated (Odendahl might as well have added ‘easy to command’) and its gratuitous swipe at Cardinal Sarah,” he wrote. 

“Natürlich progressives could never be guilty of such a sin and crime, but these words sure do suggest soft racism, the racism of elite white Western paternalism,” he added. 

African prelates have gained a solid reputation for being strong defenders of Catholic sexual morality because of their unwavering orthodox input into the recently concluded Synod on the Family in Rome. 

At one point during the Synod, Cardinal Robert Sarah urged Catholic leaders to recognize as the greatest modern enemies of the family what he called the twin “demonic” “apocalyptic beasts” of “the idolatry of Western freedom” and “Islamic fundamentalism.”

STORY: Cardinal Danneels warns African bishops to avoid ‘triumphalism’

“What Nazi-Fascism and Communism were in the 20th century, Western homosexual and abortion ideologies and Islamic fanaticism are today,” he said during his speech at the Synod last month. 

But African prelates’ adherence to orthodoxy has earned them enemies, especially from the camp of Western prelates bent on forming the Catholic Church in their own image and likeness, not according to Scripture, tradition, and the teaching magisterium of the Church. 

During last year’s Synod, German Cardinal Walter Kasper went as far as stating that the voice of African Catholics in the area of Church teaching on homosexuality should simply be dismissed.

African cardinals “should not tell us too much what we have to do,” he said in an October 2014 interview with ZENIT, adding that African countries are "very different, especially about gays.” 

Earlier this month Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, instead of praising Africa for its vibrant and flourishing Catholicism, said that African prelates will one day have to look to Europe to get what he called “useful tips” on how to deal with “secularization” and “individualism.” 

The statement was criticized by one pro-family advocate as “patronizing of the worst kind” in light of the facts that numerous European churches are practically empty, vocations to the priesthood and religious life are stagnant, and the Catholic faith in Europe, especially in Belgium, is overall in decline.

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