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Catholic Church in Argentina

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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]

History[edit]

Colonial and Early Republican Period[edit]

During the Spanish colonial period, the Catholic Church became the dominant religious presence and social service provider in the Spanish holdings in South America, including the territory that would later become independent Argentina. Following independence from Spain in 1810, there were sharp disagreements within the national ruling elite over the degree of Church influence in the country. Not wanting to offend Spain, the Papacy condemned the revolutions sweeping South America at the time, creating a contentious relationship with the budding Argentine nation. Still, the first Argentine Constitution, promulgated in 1853 and which remains the basis of Argentina’s modern legal system, reserved a special place for the Catholic Church in the country through state financial support while also allowing religious freedom. Church-State relations in the 19th 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 off diplomatic relations in the 1880s over these issues and went nearly 20 years before reestablishing them. Relations improved during the early 20th century, as various conservative administrations worked with the Vatican to set the basis for a mutually acceptable relationship, which involved, among other things, state permissiveness toward religious education in public schools.[citation needed]

Perón and the military regimes[edit]

By the 1950s, the increasing power of Juan Domingo Perón produced tensions between his administration and the Church over issues such as the attempted legalization of divorce and prostitution, and particularly state regulation of religious education. These culminated in an open confrontation between the two, which paved the way for a military coup against the regime by discontented and largely Catholic-inspired factions of the military in 1955. During the three subsequent decades, relations between Church and State were marked by conflict over human rights abuses and economic injustices endemic to the country’s succession of military-led dictatorships. The 1966 Concordat formalized relations between Argentina and the Vatican and specified Vatican control over appointments of religious authorities in the country. A brief return to democracy in 1973 gave way to increasing political violence and polarization, leading to another coup in 1976. The period following this latter coup was known as the Dirty War, which was characterized by serious and constant violations of human rights by the government as it sought to eliminate leftist opposition. The stance adopted by Church authorities during this period was ambivalent, ranging from the outspoken criticism of a few bishops to open support for the military’s efforts by a few others. The Church’s mixed ethical record through this period continues to haunt debates about the role of the Church in politics to this day.[citation needed]

Recent developments[edit]

With the return to democracy in 1983, there was a return to prior debates, including divorce, remarriage, and the status of children born outside of wedlock. Disagreement on these topics was strongest during the administration of Raúl Alfonsín, but thereafter relations between governments and the Church remained generally amicable. During his presidency, Carlos Menem was vocal in his support for the Vatican’s position on abortion, declaring March 25 the "Day of the Unborn Child," and was recognized by Pope John Paul II for his dedication to this cause, though several of Argentina’s preeminent bishops condemned his economic policies for the poverty they created. Relations between Church and state experienced some tension after the election of Néstor Kirchner in 2003. His administration clashed with Church authorities sharply over issues of abortion, contraception, and sex education, and castigated the Church for its willingness to accommodate the military regime during the 1970s and early 1980s. Kirchner was succeeded by his wife, Cristina Fernández, in 2007.[citation needed]

Contemporary affairs[edit]

In July 2010, Argentina was one of the first countries in the Latin America that legalized same-sex marriage, putting Argentina at odd's ends with the Catholic Church[2]. Protesters, largely consisting of members of the Argentine Catholic Church and Evangelical and Protestant groups were sparked against the legislation, while demonstrating in front of the Congress[3].

Argentina’s Synod of Bishops called upon Catholics to oppose politicians who supported the bill. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the Archbishop of Buenos Aires and Primate of Argentina, has said that if a proposed bill giving same-sex couples the opportunity to marry and adopt children should be approved, it will ‘seriously damage the family.’”[4]. At stake[5], he stated is “… the identity and survival of the family: father, mother and children. At stake are the lives of many children who will be discriminated against in advance, and deprived of their human development given by a father and a mother and willed by God. At stake is the total rejection of God’s law engraved in our hearts”[5][4].

Kirchner declared that "Argentina must leave discriminatory and Dark Age visions behind"[6], and declined to attend the Te Deum Mass for the Argentinian's Independence Day, considered a long-term presidential tradition[6]. Despite these public disputes, the Argentine government has also been criticized from the left for its institutional relationships with the Catholic Church.

Pastoral regions[edit]

Divisions by region[edit]


See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ "CIA World Factbook – Argentina – People and Society". Retrieved 12 July 2014. see also Religions – Argentina
  2. ^ "Argentina legalizes same-sex marriage". CNN.com. July 16, 2010. Archived from the original on Jun 28, 2017. Retrieved Aug 13, 2018.
  3. ^ "Large protest held ahead of Argentine same-sex marriage vote". Jul 14, 2010. Archived from the original on Jul 15, 2010.
  4. ^ a b E. Pentin (Jul 15, 2010). "Cardinal Bergoglio Hits Out at Same-Sex Marriage". Archived from the original on Feb 21, 2013.
  5. ^ a b D. Marzak (Jan 11, 2017). "The Virgin Mary – Argentina Pope Francis vs Global Neoliberalism". Archived from the original on Aug 13, 2018.
  6. ^ a b U. Goñi (July 15, 2010). "Defying Church, Argentina Legalizes Gay Marriage". content.time.com. Archived from the original on Jan 17, 2018.

References[edit]