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.