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Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne (born in Limamarker, 28 December 1943) is a Cardinal Priest and Archbishop of Limamarker in the Roman Catholic Church. Along with Julián Cardinal Herranz Casado, he is one of two cardinals who are members of Opus Dei. He is quite conservative, for which he has gained some notoriety.


Cipriani attended the Colegio Santa Maria Marianistas, a Catholic school, and as a young man he was a champion basketball player. He studied industrial engineering at the Universidad Nacional de Ingeniería in Limamarker, Perumarker.

Religious Life

After working as an engineer, he was ordained as a priest for the Personal Prelature of the Holy Cross and Opus Dei in 1977; he also holds a doctorate in theology from the University of Navarra. In his service to the church, he did pastoral work in Lima, taught at the Pontifical Faculty of Theology, and was regional vicar for Peru and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Piura.

In 1988, he was appointed titular Bishop of Turuzi and Auxiliary of Ayacucho, and was promoted to Archbishop of Ayacucho in 1995. During the 1996–1997 Japanese embassy hostage crisis, he attempted to negotiate a peaceful settlement, and ministered to Japanese and Peruvian hostages.

As Archbishop

Named Archbishop of Lima in 1999, Cipriani Thorne was proclaimed Cardinal-Priest of San Camillo de Lellis by Pope John Paul II in the consistory of 21 February 2001, with the title Cardinal Priest of San Camillo de Lellis. His appointment met with protests from a considerable section of center- and left-leaning groups and Christians in Peru due to his close connections with the right-wing regime of Alberto Fujimori. During his first mass as cardinal, representatives of these groups were chanting "God, free us from Cipriani" and "Christ is justice, Cipriani corruption." [124419] (Spanish)

He was one of the cardinal electors who participated in the 2005 papal conclave that selected Pope Benedict XVI, and was himself considered papabile — a possible successor to the papacy.

Cardinal Cipriani Thorne is a member of the Personal Prelature Opus Dei; he was the first priest incardinated into Opus Dei to be made a cardinal. Cardinal Cipriani Thorne is also Grand Chancellor of the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú. In 2008 he banned receiving Communion on the hand, instead ordering that the faithful take it on the tongue. He said that "the relaxed attitude of many priests" was to blame for a decline in reverence for the Eucharist among the faithful. [124420]


Human rights

Since the early 1980s Cardinal Cipriani Thorne has been known in some quarters for his hostile attitude to some human rights groups, including groups led by some Catholic priests and laypeople. In contrast with his predecessor, the Jesuit Augusto Vargas Alzamora, Cipriani is often accused of not giving heed to claims of human rights abuses purportedly committed by Peruvian state forces during the 1980s and 1990s.

Cardinal Cipriani Thorne has been accused of having made some questionable remarks. Perhaps most famously, in a 1994 interview with Caretas, he referred to the Human Rights Coordinator as "esa cojudez," which roughly translates to "that bullshit." [124421]

In the same interview, Cardinal Cipriani expounded his views on human rights. Part of the interview was reproduced in the Truth and Reconciliation Commission`s Final Report, as well as below

Relations with the Jesuits

He was also accused of hampering the efforts of Jesuit human rights workers in Ayacucho while he was the archbishop of that troubled province of Peru. Global intra-ecclesial rivalries between groups and philosophical tendencies (especially, between the Jesuits and Opus Dei) do play a part in this row. Several Peruvian bishops who represent the leftist liberation theology of Gustavo Gutierrez are decided opponents of conservative Cipriani .

La Cantuta massacre

Cardinal Cipriani also said that people who believed that the La Cantuta massacre was committed by the Army of Peru were guilty of "treason of the fatherland."[124422] The massacre was later proved to have indeed been committed by members of the Army Intelligence Service working within Grupo Colina.

Capital punishment

Cardinal Cipriani is also a supporter of capital punishment, and accused Peruvians who opposed the institution of the death penalty of being cowards. [124423] Shortly after the capture of Abimael Guzmán, Cipriani said that the Shining Path leader should be executed. In contrast, Pope John Paul II said: "I renew the appeal I made most recently at Christmas for a consensus to end the death penalty, which is both cruel and unnecessary." (Pope John Paul II, St. Louis, MO, January 1999)


In 1997, the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru, in Lima, barred a gay student organisation from holding any events. The organisation, Parenthesis Collective (Colectivo Paréntesis), was formed by two third-year students, Rodrigo Vecco and Bernardo Nieuwland. In addition, the university distributed a pamphlet, “Sexual Identity: Is It Possible to Choose?” which described homosexuality as a curable illness. The pamphlet was prepared at the request of the university’s chancellor, Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani, Archbishop of Lima.

In 2005, during a Mass marking the 36th anniversary of Ricardo Palma University, Cipriani commented on the recent legalisation of homosexual unions in Spain. He denounced the existence of a worldwide campaign that sells “damaged goods,” calling a relationship that is “not between a man a woman” marriage, and he warned that by legalising homosexual unions, society is disfigured. He warned that, “In today’s world, evil disguises itself as good, it is imposed on others, and woe to him who does not accept it!”. The cardinal called on the faithful not to refer to relationships that “are not between a man and a woman” as marriage. “Call it what you want but don’t sell damaged goods, don’t traffic in that dictatorship of moral relativism in which there is nothing good, only opinions and trends of thought.”

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