Juan Landázuri Ricketts
Juan Landázuri Ricketts
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Juan Landázuri Ricketts (December 19, 1913, Arequipa, Peru – January 16, 1997, Lima, Peru) was one of the most prominent Roman Catholic Churchmen during the 1960s and 1970s in Latin America. This was a period in which the Church was compelled to take a strong stance on human rights abuses by numerous military juntas and also concerning problems of extreme poverty and wealth inequality. Before he turned 80 on December 19, 1993, Juan Landázuri Ricketts was the last Cardinal elevated by Pope John XXIII to retain voting rights in a papal conclave.
Born as Guillermo Eduardo Landázuri Ricketts in Arequipa, Landázuri Ricketts joined the Order of Friars Minor in 1937 (taking the name Juan) and became a priest two years later. His ability as a priest was immediately noticed and he became secretary to the general delegation of his order as early as 1943. After finishing his theological studies in 1949, he was briefly a faculty member of the Franciscan Theological Seminary in Puerto Ocopa, but his status within the wider Church was increasing rapidly and he became the general definitor of the Order of Friars Minor by 1951.
Archbishop of Lima
The following year, Landázuri Ricketts was appointed titular bishop of Roina and was chosen in 1955 to replace the deceased Juan Gualberto Guevara as Archbishop of Lima. His appointment coincided with the a radically modernising military dictatorship under Manuel Odria - which they were to hold on and off until 1980. As Archbishop, he collaborated with these efforts for sweeping agricultural and institutional reforms aimed at taking Peru into the modern world and developing its great economic potential, because he felt strongly that these would improve social conditions in the country. By 1962 he had become Primate of Peru and was made a Cardinal-Priest of Santa Maria in Aracoeli by Pope John XXIII in June 1962. He made great efforts, aided by the Jesuits in Peru, to consolidate the vast archives of the Lima Archdiocese that had accumulated ever since European colonisation of Latin America.
The following period saw Landázuri Ricketts have to contend with the rapid development of liberation theology and resistance to the military dictatorship under Ricardo Perez Godoy ruling Peru. Landázuri Ricketts responded to this with considerable support, trying his best to ensure that laity and nuns had considerable say in local decision-making. He became a major participant as Acting President in the 1968 Medellin Conference and was elected as the leader of local episcopal conference almost without opposition until he reached the age of 75 in 1988.
During this period, in accordance with his Franciscan ideals, Landázuri Ricketts also left the Archbishop's palace and moved into a small house in a working-class area of Lima. Although Landázuri Ricketts served on the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue during the 1970s, his relationship with the Vatican soured after the ascension of John Paul II as that pope aimed to deal with the problem the Vatican believed to be posed by liberation theology. Despite being an extremely respected prelate, he was not able to stem the tide of Opus Dei bishops and sympathisers appointed in Peru during the 1980s and 1990s, and his advancing age led him to resign his role as head of the South American Bishops' conference in 1989.
He retired from the episcopate in 1990 and was succeeded by Augusto Vargas Alzamora.