Rorate Caeli

Argentina and a problematic episcopate - sources, sources, sources...

A bishop has to resign in an emergency situation after being caught on video in intimate relations with another man. Another is detained by the police after being accused by a woman, who did not know he was a bishop, of groping her in a bus. Bishops defend the government. Bishops criticize the government. America? No, this is the deeply divided episcopate in Argentina.

Regardless of that, even if one considers the Argentinian episcopate as "solidly united", what does this have to do with the fact that there was great uneasiness in vast areas of the Argentinian episcopate with the appointment of two bishops in late 2005 who had not been included in the lists sent by the nuncio in Buenos Aires to Rome?

This uneasiness, which was reported in English here (parts 1 and 2), had been widely reported in the Argentinian press, and was repeatedly mentioned as recently as yesterday (when the indication of Eduardo Martín as bishop of Río Cuarto was mentioned as a sign of the Vatican to placate the episcopate), is "a complete lie", according to Alejandro Bermudez. And what is his source for this decisive declaration? He says his Roman sources tell him that nothing happene­d..., probably the same sources who told him there would be no consistory announcement yesterday...

Now, why would the entire Argentinian press (all of it) make up this story out of thin air? Why would Clarín, the largest Argentinian newspaper; Página 12, the most important weekly; and dozens of news sources (check here), which have been extremely precise in many of their religion news in the past, publish pages and pages on this crisis between the Argentinian episcopate and the Holy See if it was all a "complete lie"?

A "complete lie" was what Clarin was accused of by many when it first published the troubling news of the video of bishop Maccarone and a young man in intimate relations. But it was confirmed later, by Maccarone himself.

With his comment that the relationship between the Argentinian Episcopal Conference and the nuncio is "symbiotic", Bermudez actually confirms the core of the dispute in the Argentinian episcopate. He is right! It is! Which is why this issue matters to the whole Catholic world. It exposes the sick way in which the choice of new bishops, which should be a free papal choice, suffers so many great pressures, even greater than in the age of emperors and absolute monarchs. How, after centuries of temporal pressures, now the Holy See, which was supposed to be so "free" and "unencumbered", especially after the great Council, is a victim of these mammoth bureaucracies called episcopal conferences, whose members have to "agree" with the names of the nominees, as the most recent nominee, "endorsed by the authorities the national episcopate" -- a clear self-perpetuation of mediocrity and fear, which is the Trahison des Clercs inside Holy Mother Church.

In other words, the nuncio in Buenos Aires, who should be the Pope's faithful representative and who ought to be completely free from outside influence, is submissive to the Argentinian Episcopal Conference. This is why the Holy Father's choices of Sigampa (not exactly a "conservative"), Mollaghan (not much of a "conservative,", either), and the very young Oscar Sarlinga...were so badly received, not because they were truly "conservative", but because they had not been the "most voted", the highest-placed candidates in the ternas (the lists of three names sent by the local nuncio to Rome). If Cardinal Bergoglio is considered a "conservative" in Argentina, one can only guess what an Argentinian "progressive" is like (Bergoglio's perceived "conservatism" is a result of his difficult days in the Society of Jesus in the 1970s, when even Luther and Calvin would have been considered "ultraconservative Catholics"). After returning from Rome, Bergoglio said that there were no divisions in the Argentinian episcopate -- and what else could he say?

This while the resigning bishop of Zárate-Campana publicly states that he was forced to resign -- and the same article reports that one of the few truly conservative bishops in Argentina, Antonio Baseotto, a champion of the culture of life, is being talked into resigning.

Which is why one of the experts on the history of the Church in contemporary Argentina, Juan Cruz Esquivel, wrote in Página 12 on the serious divisions in the Episcopate (its "progressive" majority and its "conservative" minority... or vice-versa) and why this has affected the relations between the Episcopal Conference, whose dominion over the episcopal nominations has been almost complete in the past decades, and the current pontificate.


  1. Beautiful job! I wonder if they'll be a response...

  2. Lousy job; you are increbily naive to think that if the pope could appoint whom he pleased we would have better bishops!

    Do you think he did not appoint Levada to the CDF, and then did not make him a cardinal! Levada, who said of Transubstantiation: we don't use that word anymore! Whom protected sodomites, rapists, and "paedophiles"? Who payed to support gay couples, who hired gays to work in his administration in San Francisco?

    Do you think that he disapproves of O'Malley stealing 60+ churches from the faithful of Boston, only to make a profit on realestate, when before he did, he already had publicaly stated that he had paid all the settlements?! I guess that is why he named him a cardinal, because he disapproves?!

    Do you think he was forced to appoint the new Archbishop of SF, the one who says that brokeback mountain is "very powerful"?

    Both in the USA and Argentina, the pope is perfectly free to appoint whom he wills, and he does precisely that. If he does not have the moral courage to face a bunch of crooks in the hierarchy; how will he ever have the moral courage to live in a way that will be sifted in its evey detail by Jesus Christ in the hour of his death?

    But if you think he is runnning scared from the episcopal conferences of any nation; you have no idea what is going on in the Church. The cardinals did not elect someone they were to fear, they elected someone that represented their own values. And the popes actions only manifest them.

  3. Brother Alexis,

    I did not say that "if the pope could appoint whom he pleased we would have better bishops". Considering that the rest of your comment is based in this false assumption, I do not wish to say anything else.

  4. "Both in the USA and Argentina, the pope is perfectly free to appoint whom he wills, and he does precisely that."

    I think it's not necessary to disagree with everything Brother says to point out that THIS is certainly not true and never has been. The terna system was not invented in the nineteen sixties. Even Pope St. Pius X and Pope Pius XII listened to local interests and appointed bishops and named cardinals under pressure that they had grave reservations about, even when the heresy of Modernism was at issue. In fact, Archbishop Della Chiesa of Bologna was added to the list of Cardinals, pencilled in at the last minute to Cardinal Merry del Val's list by the Pope himself. And guess who became the next Pope?

    One can make an argument that IN PRINCIPLE (never in practice) the Popes have this power, that the times necessitate that they use it no matter how many schisms it might cause, etc. I won't argue with that now. But the bald statement is untrue.

  5. New Catholic,

    You did write "It exposes the sick way in which the choice of new bishops, which should be a free papal choice, suffers so many great pressures, even greater than in the age of emperors and absolute monarchs."

    What does that mean if not "if the pope could appoint whom he pleased we would have better bishops"?

    As for Jeff,

    you wrote "One can make an argument that IN PRINCIPLE (never in practice) the Popes have this power, that the times necessitate that they use it no matter how many schisms it might cause, etc. I won't argue with that now. But the bald statement is untrue."

    You mean that the statement of Principle is untrue? I do not understand, what else you could mean? How can a statement of fact be false, or a bald statement of principle be false?

    The truth of principle, if it is true, is always true, even when baldly stated, otherwise it is not true! For that is what a principle is!

    I am sorry, but you both don't make any sense to me. Are you speaking about Politics? I am speaking about Truth.

    If the pope has the power in principle, but does not use that power out of coercian, he is morally weak, because there never can be any justification for nominating a public or private sinner a bishop, archbishop, or cardinal, since by virtue of the execution of his office, he must confect the Sacraments in the state of mortal sin, and hence, such a nomination would be a mortal sin on the part of the Pope.

    It is an very tiresome excuse (usually of the Modernists) to say, we can't have even a little discipline, or morality, or justice, BECAUSE THERE WILL BE A SCHISM! (wa!, wa!, wa!) as they say.

  6. It means what it says, that it should be a free papal choice, not that a freer papal choice would be better or worse.

  7. Here's my point:

    EVERY SINGLE PONTIFF WHO APPOINTED BISHOPS HAS DONE WHAT YOU CLAIM IS A HIDEOUS MORTAL SIN. *E*V*E*R*Y* *O*N*E*! This is one of the many reasons Protestants have always criticized Her as a sinful institution that accomodates worldly concerns and compromises with the Devil.

    I think Traditionalists should appeal to the way things really worked in the Past, not to some mental reconstruction of how things OUGHT to work or how they IMAGINE they worked. Your view is not Traditionalism, it's Abstract Revolutionism masquerading as Traditionalism.

    My point is not hard to get. Anyone who's ever been a parent understands it. There are all sorts of things that you can do in Principle that you CAN'T do in reality for a variety of Prudential reasons. Every King, every Pontiff, every parent undestands it. One sometimes has to tolerate evil to avoid greater evil. It requires GOOD JUDGEMENT to know when you're doing the right thing and when you're being a moral coward. I said, we can argue about whether the Pope is doing the right thing in these're free to think what you want about it. You may be right, although I doubt it. And I'm free to thank the Good Lord that neither you nor I but Joseph Ratzinger is the Pope! Ad multos annos, Sancte Pater!

    But you're not free to argue that, "the pope is perfectly free to appoint whom he wills, and he does precisely that", because no Pope in history has ever done that. You're not free to argue it, I say, unless you simply want to revel in ignorance of Church history and the nature of institutions.

  8. Jeff you wrote:

    "But you're not free to argue that, "the pope is perfectly free to appoint whom he wills, and he does precisely that", because no Pope in history has ever done that."

    O.K. Jeff, what about St. Peter?

    ..or what about Our Lord, was He not perfectly free to choose the Apostles wanted?

    To say that I am not free to argue the principle, boarders on the worse kind of liberal totalitarianism. I am trying to take you seriously Jeff; and I have read a good number of Church Histories, so I believe I am arguing reasonably.

    I just do not understand what you are saying, like for example when you write: "One can make an argument that IN PRINCIPLE (never in practice) the Popes have this power" -- I ask why cannot I not argue this in practice. What on earth do you mean by "practice". Are you saying that the Pope is always coerced, and that ever Pope is always coerced.

    Just stop and think about it.

    As for New Catholic: I see nothing rational in arguing that a freer papal choice is a better one, unless you are speaking in scholastic categories, and that does not seem the case. What we need to remember is that "what is better" is a question, in choices, of morality, for the moral good pertains to acts of the will and the administration of persons. As I said before, the holiness requisite by the office of a bishop requires a minimum in a candidate: if an evil pope were coerced by anyone whomsoever to nominate a holy candidate, then not only is there no sin, but there is great virtue on the part of that anyone, and even some virtue on the part of the pope; but it is not I who say this, it is St. Alphonsus dei Liguori, doctor of the Church in moral theology; who says that it is morally licit and indeed may be virtuous to bribe or otherwise coerce an evil do to do good. I use this example only to show that it is not Christian to praise freedom for freedom sake; but only the moral good for the sake of Goodness. This world is passing away, and the holiness of the Church is a very great boon to the fulfillment of Her Sacred Mission to save souls.

    If bad bishops are sacked, or even good bishops are sacked; we never really know why: I can imagine a 100 reasons why any pope might sack a bishop and given another reason for it, that's certain discretion. But there is no reason to nominate a crook.

    Take this example: the Pope's own Apostolic Signatura declares Archbishop so and so a thief for stealing millions of dollars from several parishes, in violation of canon law and the moral law, and orders him to make restitution. He does a fig leaf maneuver and gets the pastors to give him the property anyhow, in violation of the moral law and the intent of the Apostolic Signatura's ruling. Now this Archbishop is nominated by the Pope as a Cardinal. If there ever was or would be or is such a pope, has he not commited a grave public scandal, by rewarding a theif?

  9. By " an evil do do" I meant to write "an evil doer to do"

  10. I'm going to let you have the last word on this, Brother. It's one of those arguments we're not going to settle. I usually let the things lapse when I'm satisfied that I've made a clear case for any readers to follow.

    But I have another bone to pick with you. "Lousy job" about this post incenses me. New Catholic is one of the very few posters on Ecclesiastical Politics who goes to the sources and does a thorough analysis in light of them. He is almost the only one who consistently gives us the sources themselves to check, if we can and wish to.

    I think you're words were too harsh and you should mitigate them, especially in light of his very gentlemanly response. I think this is true even if you disagree strongly--or think you do--with some of his suppositions.

  11. Jeff and New Catholic,

    I will praise you both when you speak truly, and either not praise your or criticize you otherwise, because otherwise I would be no religious of Jesus Christ, the Eternal Truth.

    But I never criticized anything other in the article but what I did so criticize. Of course I recognize the right of the Roman Pontiff to be free from all unjust influences and constraints, whether civil or ecclesiastical.

    It is just that, among men with talent, one must fear first of all the influence that any vain estimation might lead one away from holiness or from the Truth.

    Be holy, and be sober!


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