San Rafael, Argentina, Feb 7, 2022 / 15:00 pm (CNA).
Pope Francis accepted Saturday the resignation of the Bishop Eduardo María Taussig of San Rafael.
The Feb. 5 decision came a year and a half after the Vatican closed San Rafael’s diocesan seminary. Bishop Taussig is 67.
Bishop Carlos María Domínguez, Auxiliary Bishop of San Juan de Cuyo, is now acting as Apostolic Administrator of San Rafael.
In an interview published by the diocesan weekly De Buena Fe, the spokesman for the Diocese of San Rafael, Fr. José Antonio Alvarez, said that “it’s public knowledge that the diocese has suffered a very significant crisis, which even led to the closure of the local seminary.”
“The situation has been sorted out, but still hasn’t been gotten over. Bishop Taussig, from the first moment, put his office at the disposition of the pope.”
“In the process of these last two years, he reiterated it on a few occasions and finally reconfirmed it in writing in the last months of the past year 2021. From that moment, the Holy Father began to prepare the transition and finally today he communicated what we know,” the spokesman said.
Bishop Taussig was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires in 1982, and he was appointed Bishop of San Rafael in 2004.
Since mid-2020 tensions have run high between the Diocese of San Rafael and a significant group of faithful.
In June 2020, announcing the resumption of public worship suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Bishop Taussig determined that Communion could only be received standing and in the hand, and not kneeling and on the tongue.
A large number of the priests in San Rafael did not comply with directives regarding the distribution of Communion in the hand, among them many former students of the seminary, which was perceived by some to be behind the priests’ reluctance to require Communion in the hand, the bishop said.
Besides the trouble this caused between laity and priests of the diocese, Bishop Taussig’s decision purportedly also caused tensions within the diocesan seminary.
At that time the bishop noted that “the difficulties that the diocese is going through were taken into consideration, in the context of the measures related to COVID-19 prevention, and the reluctance or lack of obedience to the provisions that had been established.”
The Bishop of San Rafael announced July 27, 2020 that by order of the Congregation for the Clergy that the Holy Mary Mother of God Seminary would be closed by the end of the year and the seminarians would be transferred to other diocesan seminaries.
The bishop said the decision to close the seminary was deeply upsetting and “took me by surprise, but it is a directive that comes directly from the Holy See.”
Bishop Taussig explained that the Congregation for the Clergy informed him that due to the trouble the seminary had maintaining a rector–having had seven in the past 15 years–it did not seem worth it to keep the seminary open.
The San Rafael seminary was one of the most successful in Argentina and in all of Latin America, with a large number of vocations.
After meeting with Pope Francis, Bishop Taussig said in late October 2020 that the Vatican’s decision to close the seminary was “not up for discussion.”
Some of the laity of the diocese held various protests and asked people to pray the rosary in front of the diocesan offices. Numerous car caravans made their way through the streets in cities in the Argentine diocese also objecting to the decision.
In December 2021, just over a year after the closure of the Holy Mary Mother of God Seminary, the diocese announced the reassignment of the seminarians who had been in formation there, stating that a group of 12 were being transferred to “four seminaries in as many dioceses in Argentina,” without disclosing how many decided to abandon priestly formation following the controversy.
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