Peru university in Vatican battle over right to call itself Catholic
The Vatican is locked in a bitter dispute with one of South America’s top universities in a row that has resurrected ideological differences within the Catholic church long thought to have been consigned to cold war history.
At stake is the seemingly obscure issue of whether the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru in Lima can any longer describe itself as either Catholic or pontifical – ie, papal. The dispute has highlighted lingering antipathy between Roman Catholic conservatives and proponents of liberation theology, which in the 1970s and 1980s created a bridge in Latin America between radical priests and leftwing militants.
This summer, Pope Benedict XVI’s most senior official, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, issued a decree stripping the university of the right to use either word in its title. The decree said the stance of the university, known as La Católica or La Pook (after its Spanish initials, PUCP), was no longer “compatible with the discipline and morals of the church”.
Students and faculty have refused to accept the decision – and some claim there is more to the affair than misgivings over their university’s liberalism.
As the decree made clear, the Vatican has been wrangling with the PUCP for more than 20 years.
The university has been closely linked to liberation theology since Gustavo Gutiérrez, the liberation movement’s Peruvian founder, taught there in the 1960s. [More]