In a rare and dramatic move, the Vatican has stripped a prestigious university of its right to call itself “Catholic.”
The Vatican has announced it is stripping the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru of its Catholic identity after the elite university repeatedly refused to comply with the Church’s requirements for colleges.
“The Holy See, with Decree of His Eminence the Secretary of State, under a specific Pontifical mandate, has decided to remove from the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru the right to use in its name the titles “Pontifical” and “Catholic” in accordance with canon law,” reads a Vatican statement issued in Spanish and Italian on July 21.
Today’s move follows months of discussions between both sides, which began after a 2011 Vatican inspection of the university carried out by Cardinal Peter Erdo of Budapest. He traveled to Peru, where he found the Lima-based institution at odds with the Catholic Church in several significant areas of policy.
Today’s statement explains that the university’s management has, in fact, continually refused to comply with the Church’s guidelines over the past 22 years, despite numerous requests to do so by the Vatican.
It also reveals that the Peruvian university’s management sent two letters in recent months to the Vatican’s Secretary, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, re-confirming their “inability to implement the requirements” of changing their statutes.
The statement notes that the university has also been defying a ruling by the Peruvian civil courts to give the Archdiocese of Lima a seat on its board of directors.
The guidelines on what is expected of an authentically Catholic university were laid out in the papal document “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which was promulgated in 1990 by Pope John Paul II.
The Pontifical University of Peru was founded in 1917 and was awarded its pontifical status by Pope Pius XII in 1942. It currently has over 16,000 undergraduate students and is regarded as one of the top universities in Peru.