Peruvian university will file lawsuit to keep Catholic title

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The University Assembly of the former Peruvian Pontifical Catholic University says it will fight in court a decree from the Vatican stripping the institution of the titles “Pontifical” and “Catholic.”

In a statement issued on July 23, the university said the decree from the Vatican “contains numerous aspects that are contrary to the rights recognized in the Constitution and Peruvian law – such as the right to identity – in attempting to prohibit the use of the terms 'Pontifical' and 'Catholic.'”

The institution said it was “committed” to “ensuring respect for its official name, which enjoys renowned national and international prestige and is expressed in the grades and decrees it grants in the name of the nation.”

The Vatican removed the school's Catholic credentials on July 21 after 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.

On July 23, Dr. Gustavo Flores Santana of the Latin American Consortium on Religious Freedom, told CNA that the Holy See has the right to “prohibit the use of the titles 'Pontifical' and 'Catholic' on the very basis that was clearly laid out in the decree.”

Among other things, the decree from the Vatican Secretary of State said the Concordat between Peru and the Holy See allows the Church to oversee the norms of the institutions that are linked to it.

Flores said that even though the university has been stripped of its titles, “That does not mean it has ceased to be a university founded by the Church and that it should not continue to keep a canonical regimen.”

In his opinion, “It would be better for the university (and for everyone in general) that its administrators follow the Holy See’s decree (which means not issuing degrees under that name) or better yet, that they decide to modify their statutes in accord with Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which they have refused to do.

Since the university has opted to continue defying the Vatican order, the issue is now of an international nature and would have to be resolved directly in accord with the rules governing international treaties according to the Vienna Convention, he said.

Even if the courts in Peru overreached and ruled on the question, “Sooner or later it would have to be resolved through the mechanisms established by international law,” the graduate of the former Pontifical Catholic University of Peru said.

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