LIMA Ė Known for constantly voicing his political opinions, Peruvian Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani showed his great influence in Peru by arranging the first meeting between President Pedro Pablo Kuczynski and opposition leader Keiko Fujimori since last Juneís elections.
Though Fujimori for all these months has been unwilling to attend any meeting with the new president, whose victory in the election she begrudgingly accepted, on Monday she went without hesitation to the meeting prepared by Cipriani, who is also archbishop of Lima, for an attempt to lower the tension of a political conflict that has exploded in the recent weeks.
Ciprianiís influence and that of the Catholic religion in general was fully demonstrated by pictures in the local media of the meeting, in which Kuczynski and Fujimori are seen kneeling together to pray with the cardinal, who is also archbishop of Lima, in the chapel of his house where the meeting took place.
Cipriani, a member of Opus Dei, has an important presence in the media, even having his own radio talk show on which he airs his opinions both on religious subjects and the nationís political scene, and rejects anything to do with birth control, abortion or same-sex marriage.
That standpoint has been criticized by civil rights and social organizations, as well as by the left, who recall how close he was to jailed ex-President Alberto Fujimori, Keikoís father, and who demand a review of the accords signed by the Peruvian government and the Catholic Church.
None of this appears to worry the cardinal, who has been a leading public figure since the years when he was bishop of Ayacucho, the region plunged into a full civil war by the Shining Path terrorist group.
His critics then accused him of caring little for local citizens, most of them Quechua-speaking peasants, who often aired their complaints in front of his office, and slammed his open scorn for the work of human-rights organizations.