Monsignor Julio Gonzales Ruiz, bishop of Puno in the south-west of Peru, this week became the first bishop in Peruvian history to be dismissed from office by the Vatican.
GV Bishop's offices and cathedral.
SV INT. Bishop Ruiz at breakfast with runs. (2 shots)
CV Crucifix on wall
Background: Monsignor Julio Gonzales Ruiz, bishop of Puno in the south-west of Peru, this week became the first bishop in Peruvian history to be dismissed from office by the Vatican.
He gave up his diocese on Friday (May 12).
Details of the charges against the bishop remain obscure. He has been ordered to Rome to answer various counts, reported to include obsession with sex, lowering Church dignity, and invading the privacy of Church members.
The bishop denies all the charges against him, saying his record is clean, and during his last week in office he spoke out against Rome's action in dismissing him.
He has been bishop of Puno for thirteen years, and when appointed at the age of 29 was Peru's youngest ever bishop.
Puno has a population of one-million people scattered over the 12-thousand foot Andean plateau, and Bishop Ruiz won widespread popular support through a programma of social and economic reform.
As area head of the international Roman Catholic Social Relief organisation, CARITAS, he is credited with giving new life to farming and artisan co-operatives, child-care and educational centres, and irrigation projects, and with helping to create a network of one-thousand miles (1600 kms) of secondary roads linking formerly inaccessible parts of the region. He sold valuable Church treasures to raise credit loans for peasants to start their own projects, himself helping them, as a general labo???rer.
To combat malnutrition in some villages the bishop launched a campaign which at one time provided 120-thousand breakfasts daily across the region.
He incurred much criticism for dancing -- modern-style at youth clubs, indian folk-style at village festivals; for encouraging people to address him by his Christian name; and for greeting women and girls in the diocese by kissing them on the cheek. "I do not kiss women," he has said, "I kiss humanity."
He has promised to continue his social work after leaving office as bishop, but he intends to hand over the organisation of peasant work to the Government body SINAMOS.
On Wednesday (May 10) thousands attended a demonstration in Puno supporting the bishop and demanding that he carry on his work.
"If you plant potatoes, you get potatoes," he says. "If you plant weeds you get more weeds. I planted fraternity, and I've got fraternity a million times back."
This Visnews film - shot by cameraman Martin Davis - follows the controversial bishop through some of his duties during his last week in office.
SYNOPSIS: In the south-west province of Peru, known as Puno, Bishop Julio Gonzalez Ruiz, completed his duties last week, before accepting a Vatican order dismissing him from office. He has been called to Rome to answer charges - details of which have been obscure. It is known, however, that the charges include sexual obsession, lowering the dignity of the church and interfering in the private lives of members of the religious congregation. The people still support the forty-two-year-old Bishop, and he refutes the Vatican's charges, saying "my record is clean." Ordained in 1952, Monsignor Ruiz rose quickly through the church hierarchy to become, at twenty-nine, Peru's youngest-ever bishop.
The village of Chimu is typical of the many towns scattered over this twelve-thousand foot Andean plateau. Bishop Ruiz has won the popular. support of most of the one-million in Puno province, primarily because of his programma of social and economic reform. In order to raise credit loans for peasants to start community projects of their own, Bishop Ruiz has sold valuable church treasures.
As area head of the international Roman Catholic Social Relief Organisation, CARITAS, he is credited with ???ing new life to farming and artisan co-operatives child-care and educational centres and irrigation projects. In addition, the bishop helped create a network of one-thousand miles of secondary roads, linking formerly inaccessible parts of Puno province. On many of these projects, the Bishop has worked alongside the peasants as a general labourer. It is thought that this desire to participate has provoked much resentment from more orthodox church circles in Peru Despite his dismissal, Bishop Ruiz has vowed to continue his social work in the area.
During his last week as Bishop, he spoke out against his forced resignation in special masses in several villages. The Vatican originally suggested that he retire because of ill-health -- something from which he evidently does not suffer, despite his routine fifteen-hour working days.
Bishop Ruiz has also incurred much criticism for encouraging people to address him by his Christian name and dancing indian folk-style at village festivals. As of Friday, he is no longer Bishop of Puno, but he remains unrepentant. He says he is living a total revolution and that his battle is one of love and fraternity. His battle is seemingly shared by the people who turned out in the thousands for a rally last week to back the Bishop and demand that he continue working.