Catholic Church in Argentina

Jump to navigation Jump to search
Map of Argentina
Procession in the Argentine Northwest

The Catholic Church in Argentina is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, the Curia in Rome, and the Argentine Episcopal Conference.[citation needed]

According to the CIA World Factbook (July 2014), 92% of the country are nominally Catholic, but less than 20% practice their faith regularly.[1]

Today, the church in Argentina is divided into administrative territorial units called dioceses and archdioceses. Buenos Aires, for example, is a metropolitan archdiocese owing to its size and historical significance as the capital of the nation. An Archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis), SJ, was elected as Pope on 13 March 2013. Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral, the seat of the archbishop, also houses the remains of General José de San Martín in a mausoleum.[citation needed]

There are seven Catholic universities in Argentina: Pontifical Catholic University of Argentina (Buenos Aires), the Universidad Católica de Córdoba, the Universidad de La Plata, the Universidad de Salta, the Universidad de Santa Fe, the Universidad de Cuyo, and the Catholic University of Santiago del Estero. Religious orders run and sponsor hundreds of primary and secondary schools throughout the country, with government funding.[citation needed]


Viceroyalty and national organization (1776-1930)[edit]

Thanks to the famous bull of Pope Paul III Sublimis Deus of 1537 who declares the indigenous men with all the effects and abilities of Christians, there was a great contrast between the Spanish, Anglo-Saxon and French colonization in America. 4 In the Spanish Empire, social unity was conceived through the unity of the Faith of the Catholic Church .

During the Spanish colonial period, the Catholic Church became the main provider of Christian presence and religious social service in the different Spanish viceroyalties in South America , including the territory that would later become the current Argentine Republic .

After the May Revolution in 1810 first, and then with the independence of Spain in 1816 there were disagreements within the national ruling elite about the degree of influence of the church in the country. Without wanting to offend Spain, the papacy condemned the revolutions sweeping South America in time and creating a contentious relationship with the budding Argentina Nation that will finally be resolved in 1966 with the concordat between the Argentine Republic and the Holy See .

Ecclesiastical reform of Rivadavia[edit]

Between 1820 and 1824, Martín Rodríguez governed , whose minister Bernardino Rivadavia promoted an ecclesiastical reform by modernizing a sector of society that had not changed since the time before the May Revolution . This reform included the suppression of tithes , the transfer to the State of some of the assets of the religious orders , such as those of the Sanctuary of Luján , of the Brotherhood of Charity, of the Hospital of Santa Catalina and others. 5 In opposition to the reform on March 19 , 1823 , the "Revolution of the Apostolics" broke out led by Gregorio García de Tagle in which illustrious citizens such as Domingo Achega , Mariano Benito Rolón , Ambrosio de Lezica (father) participated among others but failed after several hours of struggle.

The arbitrary and unilateral spoils of the Rivadavian administration together with the role of the Catholic Church in the genesis of Argentine nationality are the cause of the historical reparation that underlies the current support of Catholic worship in Argentina, regulated by Law 21.540 on the " Assignment to certain dignitaries belonging to the Roman Apostolic Catholic Cult. " 6

Relationship from the National Organization[edit]

In any case, it was established in the first Argentine Constitution, (unitary) promulgated in 1819 - in its article 1 - In that of 1826 (also unitary) - in its article 3 - and then in the federal of the year 1853 , in its article 2 , - still in force with its modifications - reserves a special place for the Catholic Church, the majority religion among the population.

During the wars for independence, the State confiscated many temple assets to support the armies. [ citation needed ] For this reason, after the fall of the tyranny of Juan Manuel de Rosas , in the battle of Caseros , when the Constitution of 1853 was drafted, this debt is recognized in the aforementioned article 2.

Church-state relations in the nineteenth century were characterized by a series of conflicts between the Argentine government and the church over the issues of compulsory secular education, civil marriage and the governmental appointment of religious authorities. Argentina and the Holy See broke diplomatic relations in the 1880s on these issues and it took almost 20 years to restore them.

First half of the 20th century[edit]

The XXXII International Eucharistic Congress of 1934 was held in Buenos Aires , Argentina between October 9 and 14 , 1934 with the presence of Eugenio Pacelli , future Pope Pius XII. It was the first to be held in Latin America and the third in America after those held in Montreal and Chicago .

On the same day that the martyr Hector Valdivielso Sáez - the first Argentine saint - gave his life on October 9 , the International Eucharistic Congress of 1934 began that marked a revival of Argentine Catholicism, a milestone from which a new life of the Church in Argentina, the dioceses increased, vocations grew, new parishes were built, and the laity became aware of their importance in the Church. Because of the magnitude of the crowds that attended public events, never before seen, it was the most important mass event in the country to date and, for some historians, the largest mobilization that has occurred in Argentina to date. 7.

Relations improved in the early twentieth century, with several conservative administrations working with the Holy See to lay the foundations for a mutually acceptable relationship, which involved, among other things, state permissiveness towards religious education in public schools. The government of the Infamous Decade , the subsequent dictatorship and the first eight years of the government of Juan Domingo Perón overthrew the continuity of the fluid relationship between the State and the Catholic Church

50s and 60s: from the crisis to the concordat[edit]

At the end of 1954, for reasons that were never fully explained, President Perón broke off relations with the Catholic Church and began a confrontation with it, during which the government abolished the non-working days of certain Catholic religious holidays, introduced divorce law, 8 9 allowed the opening of establishments to practice prostitution , October November forbade religious manifestations in public places, 12 and the municipality of Buenos Aires forbade traders expose mangers or other religious figures in commemoration of Christmas.13 Church of San Ignacio after the burning of churches on June 16, 1955 perpetrated by the followers of President Juan Perón . On June 11, 1955 , despite being prohibited by law 14,400, the public celebration of the feast of Corpus Christi was held , with an estimated attendance of some 200,000 people. On the same day 11 the government accused the protesters, in addition to the damage, of having burned an Argentine flag and opened a judicial investigation. The next day, a group of clash related to Peronism , the Nationalist Liberation Alliance , tried to burn the Cathedral of Buenos Aires, an action that was prevented by members of the Argentine Catholic Action and the UNES . 14 15 16 17

On June 16, 1955 there was an attempted coup d'etat and assassination of President Perón, which resulted in the bombing of Plaza de Mayo and its adjacencies, with the balance of more than 300 civilians killed. In response, Peronist protesters destroyed several churches and there were about 800 imprisonment of political prisoners , including hundreds of priests, such as the bishops Miguel de Andrea and Gustavo Franceschi , 18 and only in the Province of Buenos Aires about one thousand priests were arrested and incommunicado.

The relations of the Catholic Church with the dictatorship that overthrew Perón and with the government of Arturo Frondizi were less conflictive. In 1966 the Concordat was signed that formalized the relations between Argentina and the Holy See and still governs the relations between the two, and which specifies that it is the Apostolic See who controls exclusively the appointments of the country's religious authorities.

The 60s, 70s and 80s[edit]

Since the mid-1960s , relations between the church and the state have been characterized by conflicts with leftist guerrilla organizations, conflicts over human rights abuses and endemic economic injustices. During this period the theology of liberation reached a great boom, which coincided with the ascending period of the armed groups of the left, to which some priests and numerous lay Catholics attached. With the increase in political violence during the so-called third Peronism (1973-1976) the influence of conservative sectors in the Church increased, and even more so after the last coup d'etat, in March 1976, which gave way to a bloodymilitary dictatorship , characterized by violations of human rights by the government. [ citation needed ]

The positions adopted by the Church authorities during this period were very personal. Depending on each case, they went from the open support of some bishops and priests to the armed groups of the left, to the explicit support to the dictatorship and to the torture and murder by the same. The vast majority of the clergy remained on the sidelines, either because they ignored the events produced or because they chose not to get involved. [ citation needed ]

The first pastoral visit of a pope to Argentina took place in 1982, when the Falklands war ended : John Paul II had planned a pastoral visit to England , very important for ecumenical relations with the Anglican church , and yet he did not want rebuff Argentine Catholics. He sent a letter to the Argentine people 19 and carried out a brief visit to the country.

Return to democracy[edit]

With the return to democracy in 1983 , there was a return to previous debates, including the situation of children born out of wedlock, marriage and divorce. The disagreements on these issues were very strong during the administration of President Raúl Alfonsín , who, for example, did not hesitate to respond from the pulpit the homilies of two priests during two masses.

During 1987 there was the second pastoral visit of Pope John Paul II to Argentina, with significant participation of youth, since during this second pastoral visit the first World Youth Day was held , an initiative of the Pope and the Argentine Cardinal Eduardo Pironio . It was during the same one that a song was sung for the first time that later will cross all America and the world: "Juan Pablo second, the whole world loves you"

During the administration of President Carlos Saúl Menem 1989 - 1999 , the " day of the unborn child " that Menem himself promoted in support of the defense of the life of the unborn was declared on March 25 . Menem was recognized by Pope John Paul II for his dedication to this cause. Several prominent bishops of Argentina condemned Menem's economic policies because they resulted in a marked increase in poverty.

Relations between the Church and the governments of Nestor and Cristina Kirchner[edit]

Relations between church and state experienced some tense moments during the government of Nestor Carlos Kirchner . Relations with Cardinal Primate Jorge Mario Bergoglio were very strained, before which the government avoided participation in the Te Deum in the Cathedral of Buenos Aires , including those corresponding to the anniversaries of the May Revolution . [ citation needed ]

Conflicts were raised, such as the displacement of the military bishop Antonio Baseotto , who opposed the manifestations of the Minister of Health, Ginés González García , in favor of the decriminalization of abortion and the distribution of condoms to young people with an appointment that was interpreted as incitement to violence. Communicators linked to the government, such as Horacio Verbitsky , disseminated notes and books dedicated to accusing many clerics of collaboration with human rights violations during the dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla . [ appointment required ]

Nestor Carlos Kirchner was succeeded in 2007 by his wife, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner , who defines herself as Catholic. 20 During his term the same-sex marriage law was passed, which kept the conflict between the government and the Church elevated. The Catholic Church, together with faithful of Protestant denominations organized protests against such reform. The former archbishop of Buenos Aires and current Pope, Jorge Bergoglio, issued a statement to lawmakers who oppose the vote calling the effort "a movement by the father of lies to confuse and deceive the children of God." And in a Synod of Bishops of Argentina, in a rare political statement, he urged Catholics to oppose the politicians who supported the bill. [ appointment required ]

Despite these divergent points, the president expressed several times her opposition to the legalization of abortion during her two terms. 21 Shortly after assuming her second term, the president reaffirmed this position in a meeting of more than 45 minutes that she held with the episcopate dome. 22 and blocked the debate in the Chamber of Deputies when members of his party proposed to take it forward by emptying the corresponding commission. 23 24

Also, at the time of sending the draft Civil and Commercial Code approved in 2015, Cristina Kirchner made several demands of the Church among which are: the consideration of the beginning of life from conception, post-mortem filiation and the prohibition of maternity due to surrogacy of bellies . 25

The election of Monsignor Bergoglio as Pope , with the name of Francisco , led to an improvement in relations between the Catholic Church and the national government. The president met repeatedly with the pope, in Rome and in other countries, and her relationship as leaders was very fluid.

Divisions by region[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "CIA World Factbook – Argentina – People and Society". Retrieved 12 July 2014. see also Religions – Argentina