Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne

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His Eminence
Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne
Cardinal, Archbishop of Lima
Cardenal cipriani.JPG
Archdiocese Lima
See Lima
Appointed 9 January 1999
Predecessor Augusto Vargas Alzamora
Other posts Cardinal-Priest of S. Camillo de Lellis
Member of Council for the Economy
Ordination 21 August 1977
Consecration 3 July 1988
by Juan Landázuri Ricketts
Created cardinal 21 February 2001
Rank Cardinal-Priest
Personal details
Birth name Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne
Born (1943-12-28) 28 December 1943 (age 74)
Lima, Peru
Nationality Peruvian
Denomination Roman Catholic
Parents Enrique Cipriani Vargas
Isabel Thorne Larrabure
Previous post
Alma mater Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería
Coat of arms Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne's coat of arms
Styles of
Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne
Coat of arms of Juan Luis Cipriani.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Lima

Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne (born 28 December 1943) is a Cardinal Priest and Archbishop of Lima in the Roman Catholic Church. He is one of two cardinals who are members of Opus Dei, the other being Julián Herranz Casado.


Cardinal Cipriani attended the Colegio Santa Maria Marianistas, a Catholic school, and as a young man he was a member of the Peruvian national basketball team for six years.[1] He studied industrial engineering at the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in Lima, Peru.

As a Priest[edit]

After working as an engineer, he was ordained as a priest for the Personal Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei in 1977; he also holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Navarra. In his service to the church, he did pastoral work in Lima, taught at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology, and was regional vicar for Peru and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Piura.

In 1988, he was appointed titular Bishop of Turuzi and Auxiliary of Ayacucho, and was promoted to Archbishop of Ayacucho in 1995. During the 1996–1997 Japanese embassy hostage crisis, he attempted to negotiate a peaceful settlement, and ministered to Japanese and Peruvian hostages.

As Archbishop[edit]

Named Archbishop of Lima in 1999, Cipriani was proclaimed Cardinal-Priest of San Camillo de Lellis by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, with the title Cardinal-Priest of San Camillo de Lellis.

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI, and was himself considered papabile — a possible successor to the papacy.[citation needed]

The cardinal is a member of the Personal Prelature Opus Dei; he was the first priest incardinated into Opus Dei to be made a cardinal. He is also Grand Chancellor of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 2008 he banned receiving Communion on the hand, instead ordering that the faithful receive on the tongue. He said that "the relaxed attitude of many priests" was to blame for a decline in reverence for the Eucharist among the faithful.[2]

On 19 July 2011, he was named as a member of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America by Pope Benedict XVI.

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2013 papal conclave that selected Pope Francis.

On 8 March 2014, he was named by Pope Francis to serve as a Cardinal Member of the new Council for Economic Affairs, the board which will supervise the work of the Secretariat for the Economy, a newly established financial regulatory department for all agencies of the Roman Curia.[3]



In 1997, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PUCP), in Lima, barred a gay student organisation from holding any events. The organisation, Parenthesis Collective (Colectivo Paréntesis), was formed by two third-year students, Rodrigo Vecco and Bernardo Nieuwland. In addition, the university distributed a pamphlet, “Sexual Identity: Is It Possible to Choose?” which described homosexuality as a curable illness. The pamphlet was prepared at the request of the university’s chancellor, Cardinal Cipriani.

In 2005, during a Mass marking the 36th anniversary of Ricardo Palma University, Cipriani commented on the recent legalisation of homosexual unions in Spain. He denounced the existence of a worldwide campaign that sells “damaged goods,” calling a relationship that is “not between a man a woman” marriage, and he warned that by legalising homosexual unions, society is disfigured. He warned that, “In today’s world, evil disguises itself as good, it is imposed on others, and woe to him who does not accept it!”. The cardinal called on the faithful not to refer to relationships that “are not between a man and a woman” as marriage.

“Call it what you want but don’t sell damaged goods, don’t traffic in that dictatorship of moral relativism in which there is nothing good, only opinions and trends of thought.”

In March 2007, PUCP filed a lawsuit against Mr. Walter Muñoz Cho, who was appointed to the board of directors by Cardinal Cipriani. In 2010 legal proceedings between the Archdiocese and the PUCP began on the issue of autonomy of senior academic appointments and the University's property rights.

Relations with the Jesuits[edit]

Without any proof, he was also accused of hampering the efforts of Jesuit human rights workers in Ayacucho while he was the Archbishop of that troubled province of Peru, while many filmed testimonies speak on the contrary (cf. Human Rights section below).

Capital punishment[edit]

Cipriani has considered that conditions in Peru argue for the permissibility of capital punishment in certain very limited cases, where the criminal poses to society a real threat that probably cannot be safely contained by less severe means, including life imprisonment without parole. For example, shortly after the capture of violent revolutionary Abimael Guzmán, Cardinal Cipriani Thorne expressed an opinion that the Shining Path leader should be executed. He referred to Peruvians who opposed the institution of the death penalty as "cowards".[4]

Human rights[edit]

Since the early 1980s Cardinal Cipriani has been accused of not defending human rights: in contrast to his predecessor, the Jesuit Augusto Vargas Alzamora. He has been accused of not heeding claims of human rights abuses committed by Peruvian state forces during the 1980s and 1990s. These claims are well documented by the testimonies collected by Peru's Truth & Reconciliation commission, of victims of the political violence in Ayacucho, Peru, where he was Bishop. They are also well documented by Cipriani's own words to the media.

The Truth Commission documentation on Cipriani is best summarized by Jeffrey Klaiber in his 2004 article, "Peru's Truth Commission and the Churches" in the International Bulletin of Mission Research, vol 28, no4: "In its final report, the Commission singled out "Opus Dei archbishop of Lima, Juan Luis Cipriani.... for not defending human rights and for not fulfilling his pastoral mission while he was auxiliary bishop and later archbishop (1990-99) of Ayacucho, the home of the Shining Path in the central Andes. In angry retorts the archbishop rejected the findings of the report, as did an Opus Dei congressman and several members of the military. But most of the rest of the country received the report as a truthful account of what happened." [5].

The sources of the Truth Commission accusations were testimonies by victims of the political violence in Ayacucho. Ayacucho was the birthplace of the PCP-Shining Path, and withstood the majority of the violence perpetrated by state military forces and the Shining Path. In the Final Report, Cipriani is listed as the only religious leader that did not support the work of Peru's Human Rights Coordinator, "whose activities he repeatedly pronounced himself in opposition to" (TRC Final Report 2005; pg 399) [6]

The Peruvian Truth Commission also concluded that: "Every day people disappeared in Ayacucho in those years, it was a very serious problem, as well as torture and murder, but Mgr. Cipriani never questioned the human rights violations committed by the forces of order, on the contrary, held constant and "It can not be said that Peru is a place where human rights are not respected". However, he acknowledged "the existence of two or three isolated situations of which derision is being made" (Commission Interview # 20.1.94). For this reason he constantly criticized the reports of international organizations as an intrusion into the country. At the door of the archbishopric, a blackboard said: "No claims on Human Rights are accepted"" (p.426 Final Report, Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission)[7]

However accounts of Cipriani's antagonism to Human Rights existed well before Peru's Truth Commission in the form of interviews with the media. Here are just a few:

In an interview with El Comercio newspaper at the height of the violence, when anyone considered "maoist" might be seen as a member of the Shining Path, Cipriani famously told El Comercio newspaper that "Most human rights institutions are the cornerstones of political movements, almost always Marxist and Maoist" [8]

Regarding the Peruvian Coordiantor of Human Rights (an umbrella organizations of secular and church groups devoted to protecting human rights in Peru) Cipriano told a report for Caretas (Peru's most widely read political magazine): "In a violent context like that of Ayacucho, the deaths, disappearances and abuses are part of the war. Defenders of Human Rights will call it a dirty war. I believe that the Armed Forces had to use these mechanisms to know how and where these issues occurred. And when these means were used, of course there were dead from one side and the other. "" I have come to the forefront of the poor and of those who have massacred this city. And during that bustle I have not seen those of the Coordinator of Human Rights, that ridiculousness" [9]

In an interview with El Comercio newspaper in March 1991, Ciprani said that " As long as we do not state clearly that human rights are not absolute untouchable values, but are permanently subject to the limits set by human duties, it is impossible to deal effectively with the evils we suffer, especially immorality In public functions and terrorism. Let's put it briefly: Most institutions called "human rights defense" are the backbones of political movements, almost always of the Marxist and Maoist type" [10]

Regarding his endorsement of the death penalty for members of the Shining Path, in an interview with Expreso newspaper: Cipriani argued for the inclusion of the death penalty in the 1993 Constitution: " We can not allow the country not to approve the death penalty because of the fear, fear and cowardice of a few. We can not tremble with fear. The world changes day by day and not in favor of cowards . " [11]

Regarding his endorsement of an amnesty offered for the state military, accused of war crimes: "It is a political decision, to achieve internal peace, because it is necessary to forgive to achieve reconciliation [12]

Regarding the disappeared: "Yes that's what they call the disappeared. The truth is that they were caught in an ambush confrontation and felled" [13]


In a televised discussion about abortion on the program Diálogos de fe, he explained, "Statistics tell us that girls get abortions, but it is not because these girls were violated, but because, often, the woman puts herself on provoking display."[14]


External links[edit]

Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Augusto Vargas Alzamora
Archbishop of Lima
9 January 1999–incumbent
Succeeded by