Luis Fernando Figari
Luis Fernando Figari Rodrigo (born July 8, 1947 in Lima, Peru) is a Peruvian Catholic layman and the founder and former superior general of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. He has also founded Christian Life Movement and other religious associations. In October 2015 a book was published in Lima 'Mitad Monjes, Mitad Soldados' by Pedro Salinas, in which various testimonies denounced Figari for the physical, psychological and sexual abuse of young men, some of whom were minors.
Early life and education
Luis Fernando Figari was born in Lima, Peru, on 8 July 1947. His parents were Don Alberto Figari (1902–1990) and Mrs. Blanca Figari (1909–1995), both Peruvian. He was born in a Catholic family, and was the last of four children.
He studied in the Immaculate Heart of Mary School until he was 10 years of age and then in Holy Mary High School at Lima.
When he was 7 years old, he received the Sacraments of Reconciliation, Communion, and Confirmation. Presiding over the Liturgy was Archbishop Juan Landazuri, O.F.M., who would have an important role in the approval of the Sodalitium, as well as in other societies Luis Fernando established.
He first studied Humanities and Law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and afterwards Law in the National University of San Marcos, in Lima. During this time, he became a leader of the National Confederation of Youths, the juvenile branch of National Odriist Union party, the political movement of former president Manuel A. Odria When he was 19 years old he was elected to represent all the university students from Lima, giving the welcoming speech to US presidential candidate Robert Kennedy during his visit to Peru.
After participating in politics and searching answers in philosophy, he began to walk through the path of the faith. A Passionist Priest, Father Constancio Bollar, who had baptized L.F. Figari and was a friend of the family, had an important role in his discernment towards a consecrated life. Fr. Bollar became, until his death in 1975, his spiritual director.
He would begin studying Theology in the Pontifical and Civil School of Theology of Lima, where he also taught in 1975.
His conversion process finds a culminating point in the foundation of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, in 1971. He calls that moment "baptism of a search". Cardinal Landazuri, the Archbishop of Lima, would start meeting with Figari in 1972, following closely the development of the Sodalitium and expressing his support.
In 1974, he founded the Immaculate Mary Association for women.
In 1984 Figari participated in the first World Youth's Day at Rome, pronouncing the “Catechesis on Love”, in Saint Paul Outside the Walls Basilica. One year later, in 1985, he founded the Christian Life Movement (CLM), an ecclesial movement.
In 1991, he founded the Marian Community of Reconciliation, a religious association for lay consecrated women.
In 1994, Christian Life Movement was recognized by the Vatican as an International Lay Association of Faithful of pontifical right.
In 1995, he founded the Confraternity of Our Lady of Reconciliation.
In 1997, Sodalitium was approved by Pope John Paul II as a Society of Apostolic Life for laymen and priests.
One year later, in 1998, Figari founded another religious association for consecrated women, the Servants of the Plan of God.
All the members of these institutions, who share a common spirit and goals, are said to form a spiritual family: the Sodalit Family. It is constituted by men and women of every age, and is extended throughout the Americas and Europe, as well as in Australia and some countries of Asia and Africa.
In 2002, Pope John Paul II named Figari as Consultor to the Pontifical Council for the Laity.
In 2005, Pope Benedict XVI named Figari as an Auditor to the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist, one of the few lay participants invited to the assembly.
On June 3, 2006, Figari addressed the conclusive words to Pope Benedict XVI in the Encounter of the Ecclesial Movements and New Communities with the Pope at the Vigil of Pentecost in St. Peter’s Square, Vatican.
On December 21, 2010, Figari resigned to his role as Superior General of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, claiming health reasons.
Allegations of sexual abuse and phalangism
The order founded by Sodalitium Christianae Vitae is considered to be orthodox in its fidelity to the Catholic Church and its Magisterium, and it receives support from many bishops of the Catholic hierarchy.
Some groups are opposed to the Sodalitium, which has generated suspicion and alarm; it is seen by some as a conservative, elitist sect with an authoritarian and fundamentalist structure. After parents accused the Sodalitium of brainwashing their son and separating him from his parents, the movement opened its doors to the press for the first time in 2003. Young members were reported as laughing at talk of brainwashng, and said that they had been evangelised, not captured, as teenagers.
Pedro Salinas, a former member, said at the time that during his membership to the SCV in the 1980s he was subject to absurd orders, and assumed that "now the Sodalicios have learned from their mistakes and have evolved", but that when he was a member of the movement they had "sectarian characteristics".
In 2015 Salinas published a book, Mitad Monjes, Mitad Soldados (Half Monks, Half Soldiers) which reported abuse and mistreatment, including sexual abuse, by Luis Fernando Figari. The movement first published a response which was later considered insufficient, then said that it was "a cause for deep grief and shame if such acts could have been committed by Luis Fernando Figari ... We condemn the incidents that may have occurred, especially the sexual abuse". They said that the testimonies in the book were plausible and needed to be thoroughly clarified, and that former members of the Movement had reported abuse. Allegations submitted to ecclesial tribunals were withheld. Luis Fernando Figari denied all accusations, but did not make any public statement, "as would be his moral obligation". Ecclesial authorities were investigating. The SCJ asked for forgiveness, and said they offered victims help. They created a committee of members and non-SCJ experts to meet with any person affected, and said they were committed to thoroughly investigating and clarifying the truth about "the incidents, which are intolerable, because they involve grave suffering for persons who trusted our community, and they betray our deepest values". They said they were available to cooperate with civil and ecclesial authorities. There were thirty allegations of abuse by Luis Fernando Figari and his closest associates, including Daniel Murguía and the "almost saintly" Germán Doig. Salinas's book also details Figari's involvement in his youth with right-wing Catholic, extreme right-wing, and phalangist groups.
Thought and writings
Figari has published many articles and books on various subjects, such as Christian spirituality, the Virgin Mary, the Eucharist, Catholic social teachings, the Catholic view of family, human rights and evangelization of culture. He has strongly backed the ideal of reconciliation, as well as the organization of congresses on several occasions on the issue of reconciliation. He is considered one of the main Latin American Catholic thinkers.
Although his writings cover a vast number of subjects, a strong synthetic view of Christian life and mission emerges. First, an understanding of the itinerary which the Christian must travel on the road to holiness, based upon the cornerstone of the virtue of faith, which is the means to enter into communion with the mystery of love of the Holy Trinity. Figari's approach to spiritual life is deeply centered upon the event of the Incarnation, finding in the Lord Jesus the illumination for the mystery of human existence. In this context the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and specifically of paragraph 22 of Gaudium et spes is very important for Figari, as well as the role of Saint Mary, Mother of the Lord Jesus and our Mother, in Christian life. Filial love to Mary is understood as a dynamic process of growth in love, by which the Christian, who has been led to Mary by the love he finds in the heart of Christ, grows in his love of the Lord Jesus as well as in the understanding of Him, in the measure in which he lives in the company of Mary. The incarnation is understood in terms of Reconciliation, which becomes the key to understanding all the relational dimensions of human existence: relationship with God, with oneself, with other persons, and with the whole of creation. This understanding of Christian life, which according to Figari must become everyday life, naturally develops into an ecclesial affirmation of the apostolic mission of which all Christians are responsible. Conscious of the need for Christian witness in the present context, Figari has reflected upon the challenges for evangelization, analyzing the crisis of our secularized cultured, which he describes as characterized by functional agnosticism. He has also developed different aspects of the mission of the People of God in our times. Among them, four have a special relevance in his writings: the evangelization of youth, solidarity with the poor, the family and the evangelization of culture.
By Luis Fernando Figari:
- Un mundo en cambio, Verbo, Lima 1978. (Second edition: Edino, Santiago de Guayaquil 2004. ISBN 9978-21-009-1)
- Voz de esperanza: S.S. Juan Pablo II, FE, Lima 1979.
- Huellas de un peregrinar, FE, Lima 1984. (Second edition: FE, Lima 1991. ISBN 9972-41-016-1)
- En compañía de María, FE, Lima 1985. (Fifth edition: Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2002. ISBN 9972-600-82-3)
- Aportes para una teología de la reconciliación, FE, Lima 1985. (Second edition: FE, Lima 2000. ISBN 9972-41-010-2)
- El laico y la nueva evangelización, FE, Lima 1986.
- El desafío: Ante una cultura de muerte una cultura de vida, de libertad, de amor, FE, Lima 1987.
- Características de una espiritualidad para nuestro tiempo desde América Latina, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1988.
- Dios no ha muerto. Reflexiones en torno a la teología de la muerte de Dios, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1988.
- La Populorum progressio, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1988.
- Por qué una teología de la reconciliación, FE, Lima 1989. (Second edition: Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2004. ISBN 9972-600-94-7)
- La enseñanza social de la Iglesia. Camino de reconciliación, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1989.
- Catequesis sobre el amor. Jubileo de los jóvenes. 14 de abril de 1984, FE, Lima 1990.
- El pecado original, niveles de ruptura y reconciliación, FE, Lima 1990.
- La dignidad del hombre y los derechos humanos, FE, Lima 1991.
- Reflexión sobre Medellín. Un largo caminar, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1991. (Second edition: Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2008. ISBN 978-9972-212-34-5)
- Peregrinar de una comunidad. Un movimiento joven como respuesta para los jóvenes, Interview by Fr. Harold Griffiths Escardó, FE, Lima 1991.
- Función dinámica de María, FE, Lima 1992.
- Reflexiones en torno a la Trinidad y a la Creación, FE, Lima 1992.
- Con Santa María en América Latina. Reflexiones desde Puebla, FE, Lima 1992.
- María, Paradigma de Unidad, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1992.
- Evangelización, promoción humana y reconciliación en la forja de América Latina, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1992.
- Con María en oración, FE, Lima 1993. ISBN 9972-41-012-9 (English: With Mary in Prayer, Our Sunday Visitor, Huntington (IN) 1999. ISBN 0-87973-691-7)
- El matrimonio, un camino de santidad, Comisión Episcopal de Familia - Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1994. ISBN 84-89308-69-1.
- María y la vocación a la vida cristiana, FE, Lima 1995. ISBN 9972-41-001-3.
- Hacia las fuentes de la enseñanza social en la Sagrada Escritura, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1995. ISBN 9972-600-02-5.
- Horizontes de Reconciliación, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1996. ISBN 9972-600-18-1
- Enseñanzas de San José para la Vida Cristiana, FE, Lima 1997. ISBN 9972-41-002-1.
- Federico Ozanam, apóstol de la caridad y la reconciliación, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1998. ISBN 9972-600-41-6
- Lenguaje, homogeneización y globalización, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1998. ISBN 9972-600-49-1.
- Misión reconciliadora de la Iglesia, FE, Lima 1999. ISBN 9972-41-005-6
- Concilio Plenario Latinoamericano. Un centenario, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 1999. ISBN 9972-600-60-2
- Páginas de fe, FE, Lima 2000. ISBN 9972-41-009-9
- Luces de Emaús para la vida cristiana, FE, Lima 2000. ISBN 9972-41-008-0
- ¿Nuevos clásicos?, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2000. ISBN 9972-600-69-6
- Una aventura fascinante, FE, Lima 2001. ISBN 9972-41-009-9
- Nostalgia de infinito, FE, Lima 2002. ISBN 9972-41-013-7 (English: Longing for Infinity, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2006. ISBN 9972-212-07-6)
- Vida cristiana y nueva evangelización, FE, Lima 2002. ISBN 9972-41-011-0.
- El modelo de San Jósé ante los desafíos del Tercer Milenio, FE, Lima 2004. ISBN 9972-41-014-5.
- Dolor y alegría. Reflexiones de Viernes Santo, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2005. ISBN 9972-600-98-X
- De la despedida a la bienvenida, FE, Lima 2006. ISBN 9972-41-020-X
- La búsqueda de la verdad, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2006. ISBN 9972-212-09-2
- Caminos de Meditación. Métodos. Tomo I, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2006. ISBN 9972-212-11-4
- Una recta lectura del Concilio en vistas al Tercer Milenio, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2007. ISBN 9972-212-17-3
- Maestría de la palabra y la Pasión, Vida y Espiritualidad, Lima 2008. ISBN 978-9972-212-26-0
- Catequesis al Movimiento de Vida Cristiana en San Juan de Letrán, FE, Lima 2008. ISBN 978-9972-41-021-5
- Formación y misión, VE, Lima 2008. ISBN 978-9972-212-33-8
- Familia, santidad y apostolado, VE, Lima 2009. ISBN 978-9972-212-35-2
- Haced lo que Él os diga, Copihue, Santiago de Chile 2009. ISBN 978-956-8676-05-6
- Oraciones y pensamientos, VE, Lima 2009. ISBN 978-9972-212-38-3
- He ahí a tu Madre, FE, Lima 2010. ISBN 978-9972-41-024-6
- Construyendo el presente y el futuro en horizonte de esperanza, FE, Lima 2010. ISBN 978-9972-41-025-3
- Published magazine Tradición y Acción, of the Pweruvian branch of the right-wing Catholic group Sociedad de Defensa de la Tradición, Familia y Propiedad, with Pedro Benvenuto y Murrieta and Jorge Cáceres.
- Founded in Lima the phalangist group Escalones Juveniles Nacionalistas.
- Founded with Francisco Tudela the group Tradición y Acción por un Perú Mayor, the Lima branch of Tradición, Familia y Propiedad, which was founded in 1960 in Brazil by extreme right-wing Catholic activist Plinio Correa de Oliveira, so admired by Figari that he went to Brazil to meet him.
- Founded the group Dios y Patria in about 1973; this gave rise a year later to the Confederación Nacionalista de Juventudes and the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae.
- MUÑOZ-NAJA, TERESINA (2003). "Los Once Mil Castos". Caretas (in Spanish) (1763). Retrieved 2007-09-18.
- Salinas, Pedro (1 October 2015). Mitad Monjes, Mitad Soldados [Half Monks, Half Soldiers, 324 pages] (in Spanish). ISBN 978-612-319-028-6.
- Catholic News Agency (CNA), Lima, Peru (21 October 2015). "Sodalitium Christianae Vitae issues statement in wake of accusations". Catholicnewsagency.com. Retrieved 3 January 2016.
- Nelson Manrique (3 November 2015). "Mitad monjes, mitad soldados, siempre políticos". LaRepublica.pe (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 January 2016.
- Luis Fernando Figari Online Writings
- Longing for Infinity, by Luis Fernando Figari
- Sodalitium Christianae Vitae - United States
- Christian Life Movement - USA
- Movimiento de Vida Cristiana
- Marian Community of Reconciliation
- Servants of the Plan of God
- Sodalit Family
- Christian Life Movement - Canada
- FIGARI, EL ÍDOLO CAÍDO (Figari, the Fallen Idol), 27 August 2013 (Spanish)