The wayward priests of Peru who confronted Pope Francis

The wayward priests of Peru who confronted Pope Francis

Pope Francis strange silence in the face of pedophilia in

A month after its publication, Fiducia supplicans has shocked the conservative wing of the Catholic Church, which opposes the blessing of same-sex or irregular couples. The most compact rejection votes come from Africa and the Peruvian jungle, precisely from Moyobamba, where the largest territorial prelature of the Andean state is located. The 51 priests that make up it have supported their Bishop Rafael Escudero López-Brea of ​​Toledo, who in a statement has forbidden them to follow the recommendations of the document issued by the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, claiming: “It is harmful. “The community of the church.”

Although Escudero has not yet given an interview – EL PAÍS tried to contact him, but their excuse was that he was on a retreat outside the city – Father Jaime Ruiz del Castillo of Madrid, Vicar General of the Prelature of Moyobamba, has also given one Given the interview, he expressed his rejection of the Fiducia supplicans categorically: “It is an insincere document that harms us priests and confuses people.” “It does not end up being comparable to marriage and only causes us problems.” Ruiz del Castillo is not aware of the problem, he assures that since his ordination in 2001 “no gay couple has ever approached him to ask for his blessing” and that they could now do so with “bad intentions”. “If we tell them not to do this, they will want to report us,” he says.

Fiducia supplicans is criticized for its lack of clarity for two main reasons: “It does not bless marriages, but it does bless couples” and the blessings are “not liturgical”. For conservatives, the nature of the blessing is the same, even if it does not have the level of formality and sacredness. Juan Miguel Espinoza, professor at the theology department of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, believes that these ambiguities should serve to establish criteria that will guide the application of the decree, rather than ending the debate. “Conservatives ask themselves: How should I bless what the catechism says is a sinful relationship? But they must recognize that every tension is an invitation to deeper reflection, because teaching is not static, rigid or a museum exhibit. Evolve. “This document opens the way to new doctrinal approaches for same-sex or irregular couples,” he explains.

Espinoza points out that in 2016, Pope Francis issued an apostolic exhortation entitled “Amoris Laetitia,” which opens the possibility of establishing accompanying processes so that divorced and remarried people can fully join the Christian community. And with Fiducia supplians the same is also being sought for same-sex couples. Isn't it a contradiction that those who are considered unnatural by the Catholic Church seek its permission? Espinoza expresses his point of view: “It is true that the church was often a place where they felt hurt and the rejection from their families had to do with religious considerations.” But at the same time, I believe that there are LGBT people , whose religious experience is so central to their faith journey that it is very difficult for them to construct themselves as human beings while ignoring their religious identity. It's your right. Or is it perhaps better for them to live outside the Christian community? “We are all sinners and we all need mercy and companionship.”

The historian Juan Fonseca, professor at the Universidad del Pacífico, analyzes the radical position of the prelate of Moyobamba. “It is not unusual for priests in the Catholic Church to have such an obedient attitude towards their episcopal authorities. The bishops are petty kings in their respective dioceses, but there was such hostility toward the Vatican that it caught my attention. I expected something like this from Bishop Escudero, who openly takes a hostile stance towards any change in the Church. This testifies to consistent and constant work over the last two decades to discipline the clergy with regard to their ultra-conservative positions.” In 2004, the prelature of Moyobamba was entrusted to the Archdiocese of Toledo by the Holy See. Father Rafael Escudero López-Brea arrived in Moyobamba, in the San Martín region, as part of this mission.

Fiducia supplicans is seen by some as a document that could lead to division. Fonseca sees this as a long way off and points out that the church has learned to remain united despite the different positions it takes, but he acknowledges that tensions are coming to a head. “They are not breaking with the church, but they are internally questioning its authority. Normally the conservative sectors of papal authority were the most submissive, but it turns out they are now the most belligerent. “I would not classify what happened in Moyobamba as contempt, but as a muted rebellion,” he explains.

Journalist Marco Carrillo, director of the Amanecer newspaper, read throughout the San Martín Amazon region, gives a deeper insight into the conservatism of Moyobambina society. “Here, a homosexual couple doesn’t walk hand in hand. There are many prejudices and it is still considered a taboo topic. Pride Day goes unnoticed. In Moyobamba, the Catholic Church still has a lot of power, unlike other regions of the Peruvian jungle. They even work hand-in-hand with groups that advocate against abortion or other progressive struggles,” he says.

Alberto Cabrera, head of information for the newspaper Voces, whose coverage covers San Martín and part of Loreto, says that although Bishop Escudero has popular support, his silence on the changes approved by Congress has not gone down well in some sectors that promote deforestation . “When it comes to blessing same-sex couples, the bishop stands out with his paw raised, but when it comes to defending the life of our forests, he remains complicitly silent. It seems pathetic to us,” he asks.

What has also been notable in recent weeks has been the silence of the Peruvian Bishops' Conference regarding the resistance of the 51 priests to the document of Fiducia supplicans. EL PAÍS requested an interview with some of its members, but announced that they would not comment for the time being. Of course, they confirmed that in the Ordinary General Assembly of the Peruvian Episcopate, which will take place from this Monday, January 22nd to Friday, January 26th, in Lima, where the 46 bishops will meet at the national level, the document “Fiducia supplicans “ will be one of the central topics on the agenda. Of course, the presence of Spanish Bishop Rafael Escudero López-Brea is a given. There are several chapters waiting for this story.

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