Oct 22, 2015

Peru: New Cases of Child Abuse by Catholics Documented

Telesurtv
October 21, 2015



The head of the wealthy and powerful Catholic organization called Solidatium is involved in cases of child rape and other physical and sexual abuses. 

Journalist and author Pedro Salinas gave a press conference in Lima, the Peruvian capital, to speak of the impact his recent publication is having.

The book is titled “Half Monks, Half Soldiers” and in it Salinas documents the abuses by the Catholic cult called Sodalitium Christianae Vitae.

The publication has stirred up the organization and many sectors of the Peruvian society. Among a series of violations, the book shows five cases of child sexual abuse by leaders of the organization, including repeated rapes by the founder Luis Fernando Figari, who founded Sodalitium in Lima in 1971, and it acquired its canonical recognition from Pope John Paul II in 1977.

According to their website, Sodalitium is a “society of Apostolic Life made up of laymen and priests who live in community as brothers, and have fully given their lives to God, proclaiming the Gospel in the diverse circumstances of human life” and make commitments of “obedience and celibacy.” It operates in seven Latin American countries, the United States and Italy.

Salinas was a member of Sodalitium but quit due to their hierarchical and elitist nature and celibacy requirements. He then wrote a novel called Mateo Diez based on his experiences in the cult and claims the book was an attempt to vent his frustrations with the organization.

After writing the book, many former member of Sodalitium told him about the sexual abuses. Salinas claims that at first he did not believe those stories but things changed when the Vatican canceled the process to make a saint out of one of the founders of the organization, German Doig.

At that time, a close friend approached Salinas and told him that the process had been canceled due to cases of sexual abuse by Doig and confessed that he was one of them. Salinas then started collecting the 30 testimonials that comprise his book with the help of prominent journalist Paola Ugaz.

Four years after, they published the book. Salinas argues that  "what we have run into is the design of a vertical organization, authoritative, and totalitarian which has as it's spiritual guru a cruel, perverse, abusive, manipulative, and intelligent character who promotes the cult of personality around himself."

The five cases of sexual abuse in the book reveal a highly elaborate form of carrying out the crimes, which were through manipulative methods that took years of physical training, brainwashing children, and forcing them to distance themselves from friends and family.

One of the most repulsive stories is the one of Santiago who was told he was selected by God for something big, to change things and transform the world. He was then chosen by Figari to participate in a selected group who practiced yoga. After years of physical training, Santiago was asked by Figari if he wanted to move forward and learn the Kundalini technique.

Figari convinced Santiago that such technique involves awakening his sacrum bone through which he could obtain supernatural powers and a state of total consciousness. Figari also told Santiago that the best way to activate the sacrum bone was to deposit semen there.

“I’m going to deposit my sperm in your sacrum area” Figari reportedly told the boy. Santiago also claims that Figari asked me “to masturbate while he was penetrating me.”

The scandal has inspired many former members of Sodalitium to speak out. Martin Balbuena had been with the group for eight years, and he believes there are many good people in the organization but he thinks the leader who created the structure is deranged.

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He stated that "the idea of changing others, to do good, made me dream and got me involved more every time and I ended up becoming a member of Sodalitium. Once I was there and specially after I left that love turned into a deception."

Another former member, Jorge Ocampo, explained how he became part of a brainwashing system he called “plainly wrong.” He explained that "in the background there is a process of manipulation with kids of 15,16,17 years of age who do not know they are being analyzed to find out who their parents are, planning to  approach the boy in a particular way, telling him something, inviting  him to a BBQ and then we did a casual talk and starting to get him involved."

Cases have been filed denouncing the abuses of Sodalitium to Peruvian catholic officials and the Vatican, but despite the great deal of available evidence, the only action taken so far has been to recall the founder of the organization to a private life in the Vatican.

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