Luis Fernando Figari
Luis Fernando Figari Rodrigo (born 8 July 1947) is a Peruvian Catholic layman, the founder and former superior general of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. He also founded the Christian Life Movement and several other religious associations. He has been the object of allegations of physical, psychological and sexual abuse of young men, some of whom were minors. On 30 January 2017, following an investigations of these claims, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life ordered that Figari be "prohibited from contacting, in any way, persons belonging to the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, and no way have any direct personal contact with them.".
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. He studied humanities and law at the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, and then law in the National University of San Marcos, in Lima. During this time, he became a leader of the National Confederation of Youths, the youth branch of the Odriíst National Union, the political movement of former president Manuel A. Odría. When he was 19 years old he was elected to represent all the university students from Lima, giving the welcoming speech to U.S. presidential candidate Robert Kennedy during his visit to Peru. He began studying theology in the Pontifical and Civil School of Theology of Lima, where he also taught in 1975.
He founded the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae in 1971. He called that moment "baptism of a search". Cardinal Landazuri, the Archbishop of Lima, began meeting with Figari in 1972, following closely the development of the Sodalitium and expressing his support. In 1974, Figari 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.
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 3 June 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 21 December 2010, Figari resigned to his role as Superior General of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae, claiming health reasons.
Allegations of sexual abuse and phalangism
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.
In April 2015, the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life appointed Bishop Fortunato Urcey, Prelate of Chota, as apostolic visitor tasked with investigating charges of "improper behavior" on the part of Figari. Urcey's work in Peru was scheduled to last from August 2015 to March 2016. In May 2016, Archbishop Joseph W. Tobin of Indianapolis (later Cardinal Archbishop of Newark) was named to oversee the reform of Sodalit. On 30 January 2017, as a result of Urcey's investigation, the Congregation decreed that Figari should have no further contact with members of the Sodalit community. Urcey had reported that while Figari was Superior General he had "adopted a style of government excessively or improperly authoritarian, directed to impose one's own will," and that "in order to obtain the obedience of his brothers [he] used improper strategies and methods of persuasion, that is to say, underhanded, arrogant and nonetheless violent and disrespectful of the right to the inviolability of one's own interiority and discretion".
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.
- 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
According to one study:
- Published magazine Tradición y Acción, of the Peruvian 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.
- Catholic News Agency
- MUÑOZ-NAJA, TERESINA (2003). "Los Once Mil Castos". Caretas (in Spanish) (1763). Retrieved 18 September 2007.
- 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.
- Manrique, Nelson (3 November 2015). "Mitad monjes, mitad soldados, siempre políticos". LaRepublica.pe (in Spanish). Retrieved 3 January 2016.
- "Sodalitium Christianae Vitae has an apostolic visitor to investigate its founder". Catholic News Agency. 27 October 2015. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- "Vatican appoints Archbishop Tobin as delegate for Sodalitium reforms". Catholic News Agency. 13 May 2016. Retrieved 13 February 2017.
- "Vatican bars Sodalit founder from contact with members". CRUX. Catholic News Agency. 11 February 2017. Retrieved 13 February 2017.