Peru: Controversy Over Banning of Popular Priest

On Friday May 11, 2012, local online edition of newspapers [es] broke the news that the Cardinal Priest and Archbishop of Lima, Juan Luis Cipriani, had decided not to renew the ministerial license for Father Gaston Garatea [es], a well-known Peruvian priest from the Congregation of the Sacred Hearts of Jesus and Mary. Father Gaston communicated he will abide by that decision.

According to some analysts, the cause of the decision was Father Gaston's stance on homosexuality and civil unions. Cardinal Cipriani is well-known for his conservative position on matters such as birth control, homosexuality, civil unions, etc.

Father Gaston has embraced various fair causes, most related to poor and extremely poor people.

He has served as Chairman of the Consensus-Building Board on the Fight Against Poverty, and as such, he also participated in the National Agreement. He also acted as commissioner for the Peruvian Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

The Archdiocese of Lima issued a statement [es] regarding Father Gaston's situation:

[…] para realizar trabajo pastoral en una determinada jurisdicción, requieren que el Obispo, Ordinario del lugar, les otorgue las respectivas Licencias Ministeriales (cfr. canon 265).

2. En ese sentido, el Obispo Ordinario del lugar, por motivos suficientes y anteriormente advertidos al Superior Mayor de la respectiva comunidad religiosa, puede disponer que un sacerdote religioso no trabaje pastoralmente en su jurisdicción eclesiástica. Ello, que es lo que ha ocurrido con el Padre Jorge Gastón Garatea Yori, SS. CC., no suspende o prohíbe al sacerdote religioso el ejercicio de su ministerio sacerdotal en otros lugares.

[… ] in order to accomplish pastoral labor on a specific jurisdiction, [priests] require that the Bishop, the Ordinary from the jurisdiction, grant them the respective Ministerial Licences (cfr. canon 265).

2. As such, the Ordinary Bishop of the jurisdiction, due to sufficient motives already warned to the Superior of the respective religious community, may provide that a religious priest won't work pastorally on his ecclesiastic jurisdiction. As it has happened with Father Jorge Gaston Garatea Yori, SS. CC., this doesn't suspend nor forbid the religious priest from exercising his ministry elsewhere.

The website ACI Prensa [es] cites an unnamed source and explains that the process against Father Gaston was made according the due process. This source explained:

Existe en todas las diócesis un tribunal sinodal, que examina a todos los que piden las licencias ministeriales, y todos los sacerdotes -diocesanos y religiosos-, están sometidos al examen sinodal previo a las licencias ministeriales”.

Por ello dijo que “cuando el Obispo toma una decisión, en este caso de no renovar las licencias ministeriales, previamente ha tenido que pedir informe a este tribunal sinodal y también a su senado, que es el colegio de consultores. No es una decisión personal, previamente ha tenido que cumplir todo un procedimiento“.

In every diocese, there is a synod tribunal that examines all people who ask ministerial licences, and every priest -diocesan and religious-, are subject of that synodal examination prior to ministerial licences”.

That's why [this source] said that “when the Bishop makes a decision, in this case, not to renew ministerial licences, ha has to request a report to this synod tribunal and to its Senate as well, which is the consulting board. It's not a personal decision, previously there has been a whole process to be observed“.

The site later adds:

Indicó además que el P. Garatea ha tenido “un sinfín de pronunciamientos contrarios (a la doctrina católica) explícitamente aunque hoy quieran maquillarlo”.

“No sólo es lo último del ‘matrimonio gay’, que lo dijo y ahora pretende decir que se refería al contrato civil. En su momento dijo ‘matrimonio gay’, y si dice ahora que se refería al contrato civil, en la práctica es lo mismo. Lo único es que está maquillando una doctrina que va en contra de la Iglesia“, afirmó.


Sin embargo, indicó que las autoridades eclesiásticas no revelarán los motivos por los que no se renovaron las licencias porque el derecho canónico pide que se guarde “absoluta reserva por la dignidad, honor y fama de esa persona.

[The source] also remarked that Father Garatea has made “countless statements against (the Catholic doctrine), although today there is an intention to sugar coat it”.

“It's not just about the latest statement on ‘gay marriage’ [es], which he said and now pretends to say he meant the civil contract. Back then he said ‘gay marriage ’, and if he says now he was refering to the civil contract, technically it's the same thing. The only thing he is doing is disguising a doctrine that is contrary to the Church [es]”, he declared.


Nonetheless, he noted that ecclesiastical authorities won't reveal the motives for not renewing the licenses, as Cannoic Law demands “absolute reservation on behalf of the dignity, honor and fame of that person.

The blog Pastores y líderes publishes [es] the explanation of Father Jose Chuquillanqui, episcopal vicary of the Archbishopric of Lima:

[…] no renovación de licencias ministeriales al padre Gastón Garatea no ha sido una decisión tomada de un día para otro, sino tras un proceso de diálogo y advertencias.

Por ello, dijo que a Garatea “se le ha llamado la atención desde hace seis años” por sus opiniones polémicas, y que el cardenal Juan Luis Cipriani ha sostenido constantes conversaciones y diálogos con el supuesto afectado.

“No podemos juzgar abruptamente y decir que ha sido una decisión intolerante e impronta. Se le pidió que tenga cuidado en sus expresiones”, dijo Chuquillanqui en RPP.

[…] asserted that the decision of not renewing Father Gaston Garatea's ministerial licenses hasn't been a decision made overnight, but after a process of dialogue and warnings.

So, Garatea was “warned for six years” because of his controversial opinions, and that Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani has talked constantly with the alleged affected [priest].

“We can't judge abruptly and consider this has been an intolerant and sudden decision. He was asked to be careful with what he said”, declared Chuquillanqui on [local radio station] RPP.

Meanwhile, Twitter is abuzz with comments using the hashtag #GastonGaratea [es]:

Eduardo (@edurpeque) [es] expresses surprise:

Q #Cipriani no le haya renovado el permiso a #GastonGaratea me parece hasta benigno,no creen? Raro es q no lo haya recriminado o excomulgado.

That #Cipriani hasn't renewed #GastonGaratea‘s licence seems benign to me, don't you think? It's odd he reproach or excommunicate him.

@eromanp [es] is ironic:

El padre Gastón #Garatea ha recibido la mejor carta de recomendación que pueda existir: #Cipriani le ha prohibido ejercer su labor pastoral.

Father Gaston #Garatea has received the best cover letter ever: #Cipriani has banned him from practicing his pastoral labor.

Victor Mantilla (@yourjournalist) [es] recommends:

Cierto, no olviden el #FF para #GastónGaratea y el #ReportSpam para Juan Luis.

Right, don't forget the #FF for #GastónGaratea and #ReportSpam for Juan Luis.

Elí Castelo R. (@primerafuente) [es] wonders, a little annoyed:

Buenos dias, siguen con lo del Padre #GastonGaratea. Que lo resuelvan los catolicos y no los convenidos. Parece lo mismo, pero no es asi.

Good morning, still talking about Father #GastonGaratea? Let the Catholics solve it and not the freeloaders. They may seem the same thing, but they are not.

Santiago Correa Jara (@SantiagoCorreaJ) [es] adds some international context:

Que feo día en #Perú. Expectoran al Padre #GastónGaratea y fallece #DonnaSummer. A veces la vida, por mas que protestemos NO TIENE SENTIDO!!

Ugly day in #Perú. Father #GastónGaratea is expelled and #DonnaSummer passes away. Sometimes, no matter how much we protest, life MAKES NO SENSE!!
Thumbnail image by Flickr user Alex E. Proimos, under Creative Commons license Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)


  • […] Peru: Controversy Over Banning of Popular Priest, Gabriela García Calderón: Netizens immediately reacted after news broke that the Cardinal Priest and Archbishop of Lima, Juan Luis Cipriani, had decided not to renew the ministerial license for Father Gaston Garatea, a well-known Peruvian priest. According to some analysts, the cause of the decision was Father Gaston’s stance on homosexuality and civil unions. […]

  • Namit Bafna

    Hello, I do not understand how do Christianity deal with issues such as Gay marriage, Birth control etc. There are some Christians who support the cause while other don’t. Just by not letting some one who supports the cause to lead, How can they stop people from not being Homosexuals even though it is medically proved that it natural rather than being some mental illness or disease.

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