The superior general of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae announced in a statement on May 13 that Archbishop Joseph William Tobin of Indianapolis, the Vatican’s former number two official for religious orders, has been appointed by the Vatican as the delegate to oversee the group’s ongoing reforms.
According to the statement, Tobin was appointed to the task by the Congregation for the Institutios of Consecrated Life and the Societies of Apostolic Life. His responsibilities include advising and supporting the Superior General and the governance of the Sodalitium in the fulfillment of all of its responsibilities, including all of the decisions made in the sessions of the Superior Council of the order.
At the end of each semester, Tobin will inform the Vatican of the decisions, initiatives and results of the governance of the Sodalitium in the areas of community life and fraternity, vocation and discernment of candidates, initial and permanent formation and the management of apostolic projects.
He will also oversee the administration of the goods of the community.
The Sodalitium Christianae Vitae is a society of apostolic life which was founded in 1971 in Peru, and granted pontifical recognition in 1997. Alejandro Bermúdez, executive director of CNA, is a member of the community.
In April 2016, an ethics commission created to investigate and offer proposals surrounding accusations of abuse against the founder of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae released its report, which detailed an internal culture of extreme “discipline and obedience to the founder.”
This culture was “forged on the basis of extreme physical demands, as well as physical punishments, constituting abuses which violated the fundamental rights of persons,” the commission wrote in its April 16 report.
The Ethics Commission for Justice and Reconciliation was formed in November 2015 at the request of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae. It is formed of two lawyers, a bishop, a psychiatrist, and a journalist.
Members of the community have suffered physical, psychological, spiritual, and moral damage, the ethics commission reported.
Figari stepped down as superior general of the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae in 2010, following allegations of abuse. The current superior general, Alessandro Moroni Llabres, confirmed Figari’s guilt last month.
Tobin has been the Superior General for the Redemptorists, Secretary for the Congregation for the Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, and has come to know first-hand religious life on a global scale. His experience includes having been responsible for the visit and reform of the masculine communities in Ireland during the sex abuse crisis in the country.
According to the statement, as delegate, Tobin may also select his own collaborator, who can act in the position of delegate in Tobin’s absence.
It was also announced in the statement that the Sodalitium has decided to close the house in Rome where Luis Fernando Figari has been living, in order to move him to a more isolated place in agreement with the requirements that the Vatican has set to be able to continue with the investigation of the order.
“With this Vatican decree and the naming of Archbishop Tobin, the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae reaffirms its decision to carry out a profound reform, to attend and assist the victims and to fully take up again our mission of apostolate and evangelization,” Moroni said in the statement.
In addition to Peru, the community operates in Argentina, Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Chile, Ecuador, the United States, and Italy.