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Argentine president hopes Pope Francis ‘won’t be angry’ over abortion bill

November 24, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Nov 24, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- Argentine president Alberto Fernández said Sunday he hopes Pope Francis won’t be angry because of a bill he introduced in the country’s legislature to legalize abortion. The president, a Catholic, said he had to introduce the bill to solve “a public health problem in Argentina.”

Fernández made the statement Nov. 22 on the Argentine television program Corea del Centro.

In defense of his position, the president explained “I am a Catholic, but I have to solve a problem in Argentine society. Valéry Giscard d’Estaing is the president of France who approved abortion in France, and the pope at that time demanded to know how being a Catholic he was promoting that, and the answer was  ‘I govern many French people who aren’t Catholics and I have to solve a public health problem.’”

“That’s what’s going on with me more or less. Beyond that, no matter how Catholic one is, on the issue of abortion, it seems to me that this is a different discussion. I don’t agree very much with the logic of the Church on that issue,” Fernández said.

The president’s reference to a public health crisis seemed to refer to unsubstantiated claims from abortion advocates in the country, who claim that women in Argentina die frequently from so-called “clandestine” or unsafe illegal abortions in the country. In a Nov. 12 interview Bishop Alberto Bochatey, who heads the Argentine bishops’ conference healthcare ministry, challenged those assertions.

Pope Francis is an Argentine.

When asked if “the pope will be very angry about” the initiative, Fernández replied: “I hope not, because he knows how much I admire him, how much I value him and I hope he understands that I have to solve a public health problem in Argentina. Finally, the Vatican is a state within a country called Italy where abortion has been allowed for many years. So I hope he’ll understand.”

“This is not against anyone, this is to solve a problem” and if the abortion law passes,  “that doesn’t make it mandatory, and those who have their religious convictions, all of them very respectable, are not obliged to abort,” he said in justification of the law.

Fulfilling a presidential campaign promise, Fernández introduced the bill to legalize abortion Nov. 17.

The bill is expected to be debated by the legislature in December.

The legislative process will begin in the Chamber of Deputies (lower house) committees on General Legislation, Health and Social Action, Women and Diversities, and Criminal Legislation and then go to a full session of the chamber. If passed there, it will be sent to the Senate for debate.

In June 2018, the Chamber of Deputies passed an abortion bill with 129 votes for, 125 against and 1 abstention. After intense debate, the Senate rejected the bill in August by a vote of 38 to 31 with two abstentions and one lawmaker absent.

During the interview, Fernández said his bill would have the necessary votes to pass.

According to the Argentine president, a “serious debate” is not about “abortion yes or no”, but “under what conditions are abortions performed” in Argentina. Fernández accused pro-lifers of wanting “clandestine abortions to continue.” For “those of us who say ‘yes to abortion,’ what we want is for abortions to be performed in appropriate sanitary conditions,” he said.

After Fernández introduced his bill, several pro-life organizations announced activities in opposition to legalizing abortion. More than 100 lawmakers have created the Argentine Network of Legislators for Life to fight abortion measures at federal and local levels.

A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news agency. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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After another major hurricane, Central America needs ‘a helping hand’

November 18, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

Tegucigalpa, Honduras, Nov 18, 2020 / 12:33 pm (CNA).- With Hurricane Iota becoming the second major hurricane to hit Central America this November, relief agencies have tried to prepare for even more destruction and have appealed for donations and support from around the world.

“Right now the world’s attention is focused elsewhere,” Conor Walsh, Catholic Relief Services’ manager in Honduras, told CNA’s Spanish-language sister agency ACI Prensa Nov. 16 before Iota made landfall.

“It’s been a little hard to get resources together to be able to respond effectively considering the scale of this emergency, but we’re doing what we can and we’re reaching out to all people of good will.”

“We are fully aware that there are other emergencies the world is dealing with right now. Let us not overlook Central America,” he said. “Let us not forget our brothers and sisters here in Honduras because they are suffering, and they are very very close to the United States. We should extend a helping hand.”

Hurricane Iota briefly reached Category 5 hurricane strength, then made landfall in Nicaragua Monday night with sustained winds of 155 mph, a Category 4 hurricane. It weakened to a Category 2 strength storm, with 105 mph winds, before becoming a tropical storm, National Public Radio reports.

The storm brought “catastrophic winds, life-threatening storm surge, and torrential rainfall,” the National Hurricane Center said. At least four adults and two minors were killed in Nicaragua, which lost electrical power along almost its entire coast. Tens of thousands of people took refuge in government shelters.

At least two people died on the Colombian island of Providencia, where 112 people were evacuated on Tuesday, CNN reports. The infrastructure on the island was completely wiped out. It is the first recorded Category 5 storm to hit the island and its neighbor San Andres.

Iota is the 30th named storm this season, and the strongest storm of the season. It follows soon after the Nov. 4 landfall of Hurricane Eta, which hit Nicaragua, Guatemala, and southern Belize.

“The situation in Honduras is already critical,” Walsh said before Iota’s landfall. “After Eta came through, thousands of people were displaced from their homes in the north. They’re living in shelters now. They’ve lost everything.”

“In more vulnerable rural communities, farmers lost their crops. This was just before they were going to harvest their bean crops and their corn, two basic staples,” said Walsh.

“Iota is expected to be worse. It is going right through the center of the country,” he said. “We’re bracing for the worst.”

Timothy Hansell, manager of Catholic Relief Services in Nicaragua, told National Public Radio that the relief agency aims to provide cleaning supplies and toilet paper to local residents, rebuild homes, and help farmers recover.

Caribbean coastal indigenous communities were among the hardest hit by Eta’s strong winds and floodwaters, he said. Many of their homes were destroyed. Nicaraguan farmers in the northern and central parts of the country lost as much as 50% of their bean crops, with heavy damage to rice, corn and vegetables.

Likewise, the immediate situation in Honduras is “a very, very critical situation,” Walsh said.

Catholic Relief Services is the U.S. bishops’ foreign relief agency. There are about 60 CRS staff based in Nicaragua’s national capital of Tegucigalpa, the city of San Pedro, and La Esperanza in the west of the country. They normally focus on improving agriculture, water supply and education. Aiding youth vulnerable to exploitation and unemployment is another area of their work.

“All of these programs are being interrupted now because of the emergency,” Walsh said. “We’re using whatever funding we can to provide immediate assistance for the families that have been so badly affected.”

There is great need for drinking water, food supplies, and biosafety equipment like masks, antiseptic gel and soap. There are fears that crowding at hurricane shelters will lead to the spread of coronavirus infections.

“People who are in shelters, for the most part, had to leave their homes without anything, much less a mask,” Walsh explained. “The conditions for propagation of COVID are rife in those shelters.”

According to Walsh, Honduras “is suffering the effects of climate change, and it is not responsible for this.”

“It is our duty as human beings to respond to that in a way that recognizes our common humanity,” he said.

Scientists say a changing climate and hotter oceans have contributed to stronger hurricanes. The water in the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico is consistently 2 degrees hotter than a century ago, according to National Public Radio.

“Honduras is starting from a very vulnerable point to begin with,” Walsh continued. “Even without the hurricanes, even without COVID, Honduras was teetering on the edge because it’s such a poor country and it’s been so hard hit by climate change.”

The country is suffering an “acute food insecurity situation” with low food supplies after several seasons of drought.

“And add to that COVID. COVID locked down the economy. It closed markets. It made it even harder for people to make a living or an income,” said Walsh. “Now, what little is left, Eta damaged, and hurricane Iota is going to finish off.”

“What is going to be the result? In all likelihood, people who have lost everything are going to feel they have no option but to migrate. It’s going to translate into stronger migration pressures once again,” he added.

Walsh encouraged better ways of thinking about Honduras and its people.

“We have to get past this notion that Honduras is a source of problems or a source of migrants that we don’t want. It’s a neighbor of ours. It’s a place of great suffering, where poverty and exclusion explain why so many choose to leave the country,” he said. “The more that we can help Hondurans in Honduras, the better.”

Catholic Relief Services is accepting donations for hurricane relief through its website,


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Cardinal Vela Chiriboga, emeritus Archbishop of Quito, dies at 86

November 16, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

Quito, Ecuador, Nov 16, 2020 / 11:50 am (CNA).- Cardinal Raúl Eduardo Vela Chiriboga, who served as Archbishop of Quito from 2003 to 2010, died Sunday after spending several weeks in palliative care.

Cardinal Vela, who was 86, died of natural causes at the Saint Camillus Hospice in Quito Nov. 15, the archdiocese told ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner.

The cardinal had received palliative care at the hospice “for several weeks due to various health complications,” the archdiocese said.

Fr. Alberto Redaelli, the director of the Saint Camillus Hospice, told the archdiocese that the cardinal died “accompanied by his closest family and friends” and “moments before his death they had been praying Vespers.”

The funeral Mass will be said. Nov. 17 at 10:00 a.m. in the Cathedral of Quito.

The Ecuadorian bishops’ conference said they “mourn his loss, but we are consoled knowing that as a faithful servant, God will receive him into his glory. We thank God for his generous dedication to the Church and the Ecuadorian people,” and asked “all the faithful for their prayers for his eternal rest.”

Cardinal Vela was born Jan. 1, 1934. He studied philosophy and theology at the San José Major Seminary in Quito and was ordained a priest of the Diocese of Riobamba July 28, 1957.

In 1969 he was appointed undersecretary of the Ecuadorian bishops’ conference.

Vela was appointed auxiliary bishop of Guayaquil April 20, 1972. He served as secretary of the bishops’ conference from 1972 to 1975.

On April 29, 1975 he was appointed Bishop of Azogues, where he served until 1989 when he was appointed bishop of the Ecuadorian military ordinariate. He served in that position until 2003, when he was appointed Archbishop of Quito.

Vela served as Archbishop of Quito until Sept. 11, 2010, when he was 76. He was elevated to cardinal that November.

Pope Francis named him his envoy to the Tenth National Eucharistic and Marian Congress of Peru held in Piura in 2015, and also made him his envoy to the jubilee for the 400th anniversary of the death of Saint Rose of Lima, held in 2017 in Peru.

In 2015, shortly before the Synod on the Family, Cardinal Vela told CNA that “The Church is the depository of the faith, and that faith is the teaching of Jesus: we can’t go against his commandment.”

He said there is no room “to expect ‘extraordinary things’ from the synod, outside of the doctrine of the faith,” and that “fundamental truths” cannot be changed, even “by more news outlets stirring things up by saying things contrary to, or wanting to misinterpret, what the Lord commands.”

The cardinal said there is a need to develop “a better pastoral approach to the faithful, as well as to the faithful who are separated, or who are in other unions.”

“However, this does not mean that they will again have the opportunity to return to receiving Communion, because their situation is irregular.”

What can be done, he added, is “to give them other (spiritual) ‘arms’, if the term can be used, such as spiritual communion, and feeling supported and aided in prayer, so that they can discover the mercy God has for each of us.”


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Militants desecrate church in Argentine Patagonia

November 9, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

CNA Staff, Nov 9, 2020 / 08:04 pm (CNA).- A group of militants charged into a Catholic church in Argentina on Friday, beat the priest, desecrated the Eucharist, and vandalized the interior of the church. Five were eventually apprehended.

The attack took place at Our Lady of Luján Parish, located in the town of El Bolsón in Argentina’s Patagonia region near the Chilean border.

The militants were Mapuche activists. The Mapuche are an indigenous people inhabiting present day south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina, including parts of Patagonia. Militants have resorted in recent years to violence over land disputes, particularly targeting Catholic churches.

The vandals beat the parish pastor, Franciscan friar Fr. Ricardo Cittadini, briefly took another Franciscan hostage, broke sacred images, and overturned pews.


Un ciudadano envió a @aciprensa un video en el que se aprecia como quedó una parroquia en la Patagonia argentina tras el violento ataque y profanación por parte de vándalos mapuches

— David Ramos (@YoDash) November 7, 2020


A video sent by a local Catholic to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish language news partner, shows the damage inflicted to the Church.

The video shows statues of saints and a crucifix destroyed, pews broken, and the church’s tabernacle opened, with a chalice and ciborium thrown to the ground.

According to the AICA news agency, two women entered the church after asking to use the restroom. They subsequently opened the door for several more militants, who surprised and attacked the priest and another member of the community.

Before fleeing, the militants hung an Argentine flag stained with red paint in one of the windows.

AICA reported that the attack was related to an eviction ruling that orderedMapuche group Winkul Lafken Mapu from land they had occupied in the town of Villa Mascardi, located about 20 miles southwest of Bariloche.

The land is owned by the Diocese of San Isidro. Execution of an eviction order had been postponed at request of the diocese, until security measures could be put in place for those being evicted and for police charged with carrying out the order.

The Diocese of Bariloche issued a statement lamenting desecration of the church, and expressing solidarity with “our Franciscan brothers and with the community of faithful Catholics” of the Our Lady of Luján parish.

“Violence of any kind, whether about the (land) claims or in the responses to them, is never, nor will it ever be, a solution, but rather aggravates existing conflicts. The first victim of violence is peace and harmony between people,” said Bishop Juan José Chaparro of Bariloche, in a statement after the attack.

“While understanding the respect that some members of the Mapuche people ask for, the Church, however, also demands respect and consideration for a sacred place for Catholics, such as a church, especially taking into account that the bishop has listened and dialogued on an ongoing basis with all those who have come to him.”

The diocese stressed that  “the national government must assume – without delay – its proper responsibility for solving the conflicts that have arisen from the claims of the native peoples (such as the Mapuches), which have come up in many places in the national territory, not just in Patagonia.”

In doing this, “legitimate rights, differentiating them from those that may not be, must be recognized in the corresponding cases; the legal mechanisms immediately set in motion so those legitimate rights can be effectively exercised.”

“It is the longstanding reluctance of the national government to fulfill this responsibility” that is the main reason “the conflicts are growing and intensifying every day,” the statement said.

“Out of our faith we implore God our Father, to inspire in us all, sentiments of justice and peace.”


A version of this report was first published by ACI-Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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Agreement allowing Planned Parenthood to operate in Guatemala rescinded

November 5, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Nov 5, 2020 / 02:48 pm (CNA).- Guatemala’s Interior Ministry rescinded Wednesday an agreement it had made last month allowing Planned Parenthood to establish and operate branch office in the country.

The Nov. 4 statement repealed the agreement of Oct. 7, stating it was “not in accord with the interests of the State of Guatemala.”

Guatemalan President Alejandro Giammattei announced the repeal Nov. 2, declaring he would not allow Planned Parenthood to operate in the country. Giammattei’s response was in reaction the initial agreement authorizing Planned Parenthood, which became official that same day.

“I recognize life from conception and therefore I will not tolerate in my administration any movement that violates what is established in our Political Constitution of the Republic, that goes against the values with which I was raised and that conflicts with my principles as doctor,” Giammattei said.

“I am a faithful defender of life and I am emphatic in stating that I will not endorse in my administration the creation, registration or start-up of any organization that goes against life,” the president underscored.

PublinewsGT confirmed Nov. 3 that the Interior Minister, Oliverio García Rodas, submitted his resignation, which was accepted.

“Oliverio García Rodas, taking responsibility, informed me in the evening that he had made the decision to resign due to the error he had committed and considering that it was strongly opposed,” the president said.

“I reiterate the government’s commitment to respect life from conception, since it is something that my faith and the Political Constitution of the Republic profess,” Giammattei told the press.

When the initial agreement authorizing Planned Parenthood was made public Nov. 2, various political and citizen groups voiced their opposition, and lawmakers from the Viva party called for the Interior Minister to resign.

The Family Matters Association of Guatemala issued a statement thanking Giammattei “for his firm statement” defending and protecting “the lives of Guatemalans from conception, as established in our Magna Carta.”

AFI Guatemala pointed out that Planned Parenthood “is responsible for more than 350,000 abortions in the United States annually. It’s public knowledge that Planned Parenthood’s major source of income is from abortion” and that company executives have acknowledged its involvement “in the sale and trafficking of organs of aborted babies,” the pro-life organization said.


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New protests over closure of seminary in Argentina

November 3, 2020 CNA Daily News 0

CNA Staff, Nov 3, 2020 / 06:00 pm (CNA).- Demonstrators this weekend protested the Vatican-ordered closure of Mary Mother of God Seminary in San Rafael, Argentina.

Protestors gathered Saturday and Sunday outside the diocesan offices, in San Martín Plaza and in front of the city’s cathedral. The protestors prayed the rosary and held signs calling for the diocesan seminary not to be closed.

Signs held by the demonstrators included messages such as “We’re not confused, we’re outraged,” “Enough of the threats, Bishop”; “For the sake of our seminarians, explain the real reason,”  “We ask for an Apostolic Commissioner,” and “Holy Father, give us back the seminary and the seminarians.”

Car caravans with similar messages also drove through the city, ending at the diocesan offices.

San Rafael’s Bishop Eduardo Taussig announced in July that the diocesan Mary Mother of God Seminary would be closed by the end of 2020, by order of the Vatican, and that the seminarians would be relocated to other Argentine seminaries.

In August, the bishop said that the Congregation for the Clergy informed him that because the seminary had trouble maintaining a rector–having had seven in the past 15 years–it did not seem worth it to keep the seminary open.

That announcement came amid escalating tensions in the diocese between the bishop and a group of lay Catholics and priests, which began in mid-June, when Taussig announced that Holy Communion in the diocese could only be received standing and in the hand, not directly on the tongue while kneeling, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The bishop’s directive, consistent with norms announced in other dioceses in the region, may have also created tensions within the diocesan seminary itself.

A large number of the priests in San Rafael have not complied with directives regarding the distribution of communion in the hand, among them many former students of the seminary, which has been perceived by some to be behind the priests’ reluctance to require communion in the hand, the bishop said.

This refusal to comply had caused “serious scandal inside and outside the seminary and diocese,” said Taussig.

Taussig said that reception of the Eucharist in the hand or on the tongue are both equally accepted by the Church.

Speaking to TVA El Nevado on July 27, Fr. José Antonio Álvarez, spokesman for the Diocese of San Rafael, said that “due to the undisciplined reaction of a good part of the clergy of the diocese at this time, this diocese does not have the possibility of putting together a formation team in conformity with the discipline of the Church.”

On August 20, Mgr. Taussig announced that he would impose canonical sanctions on priests who persisted in disobedience by giving Communion on the tongue and not in the hand.

After meeting with Pope Francis in late October, Taussig said that the Vatican’s decision to close the seminary “was not up for discussion” and will take effect later this year.

Catholics have repeatedly spoken out against the closure of the seminary, calling for caravans, prayer and demonstrations outside the San Rafael diocesan headquarters.

In response to protests last month, Taussig published a letter October 30, asking Catholics not to “come together for these anonymous gatherings,” as “they aggravate the situation and may harm the seminarians themselves more, whom we all want to care for.”

The bishop called previous demonstrations “acts of rebellion and contention.” Messages stuck to walls and doors included a sign calling for the bishop to resign, another called him a traitor.

Taussig said that the demonstrations “first of all harm the seminary itself. The laity who put up insulting posters, who brought their children along and allowed them to pound on the windows and doors, who harm the unity of the Church and scandalize its members (and non-members looking on with surprise from the outside), are seen as ‘fruits of the seminary’. Because they reflect, at least indirectly, the formation received from those who have also graduated from the seminary. The announced caravans will also be judged in the same way.”

A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.


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Brazilian court prohibits ‘Catholic’ name for abortion advocacy group

November 1, 2020 CNA Daily News 1

CNA Staff, Nov 1, 2020 / 08:00 am (CNA).-  

A Brazilian court has ruled that “Catholics for the Right to Decide” must remove the term “Catholic” from its name, as the organization’s goals are incompatible with the values of the Catholic Church. The organization is an outgrowth of the U.S.-based Catholics for Choice, which advocates for pro-abortion policies.

“In defending of the right to decide on abortion, which the Church clearly and severely condemns, there is a clear distortion and incompatibility of the name used in relation to the aims and specific actions of the association, which directly attack morality and good customs, in addition to harming the public good and interests,” said a decision from Judge Jose Carlos Ferreira In a Sao Paolo lawsuit.

The suit was filed by the Don Bosco Center for Faith and Culture Association, which argued that the use of the term “Catholic” by the pro-choice group is fradulent, since “under the pretext of defending the ‘reproductive rights of women,’” it is actually promoting the “murder of babies in the womb.”

A lower court had dismissed the complaint as unfounded and said that only an ecclesiastical authority had standing to bring such a complaint.

But the Don Bosco Center then filed an appeal with the Second Chamber Court, which ruled in the center’s favor Oct. 27.

Ferreira wrote in his decision that Catholics for the Right to Decide represents a “public, notorious, total and absolute incompatibility with the values” of the “Catholic Church in a general and universal way.”

In addition, the judge ruled that “freedom of speech will not be compromised in the least, and the association may defend its values and ideas (including abortion) as it deems appropriate, provided that it uses a consistent name, without presenting itself to society under the name of another institution that publicly and conspicuously adopts opposite values.”

Chris Tonietto, a Brazilian legislator and attorney who worked on the case, said after the ruling that “the name was considered subversive because it perverts the meaning of Catholicism itself, which is why we say that they created confusion.”

“This organization has always acted to create confusion, so much so that the name ‘Catholics for the Right to Decide’, was certainly used in an abusive and undue way,” he said.

On its Facebook page, the NGO stated that “it was not officially notified” of the court’s decision and “became aware of the decision through the press.”

The organization pledged to “take the appropriate measures after receiving the court order.”

Catholics for the Right to Decide was founded in 1993, as the U.S. organization Catholics for Choice expanded into Latin America.  In recent years, the group has invested millions of dollars to promote the legalization of abortion in Latin America.

In October 2012, a spokesperson for the U.S. bishops’ conference told journalists that Catholics for Choice “is not a Catholic organization.”

“It never has been, and it was created to oppose the Catholic position on abortion,” the spokesperson said.



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After Pope Francis’ civil union remarks, archbishop recalls Argentina’s civil unions debate

October 28, 2020 CNA Daily News 4

CNA Staff, Oct 28, 2020 / 05:00 pm (CNA).-  

After remarks in a newly-released documentary from Pope Francis on civil unions, the archbishop emeritus of La Plata, Argentina, has offered his recollection of a 2010 debate on civil unions which took place within the Argentine bishops’ conference, while the country’s legislature was preparing to approve a same-sex marriage bill.

In comments sent to ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner, Archbishop Héctor Aguer noted that “the recent statement by the Supreme Pontiff promoting civil unions between people of the same sex caused a stir, in the Church and outside of it; i.e., proposing that they be granted a legal framework.”

The archbishop referred to comments published in “Francesco,” a documentary that premiered in Rome last week, in which Pope Francis was seen to call for civil unions legislation. The pope’s previously unpublished remarks were found to have come from a 2019 interview conducted by Mexican television network Televisa.

It has since been widely reported that Pope Francis supported the idea of civil unions legislation while he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires, as a compromise during the 2010 debate in Argentina over same-sex marriage.

Last week, Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, the current Archbishop of La Plata, posted on Facebook that “What the pope has said on this subject is what he also maintained when he was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires.”

The archbishop added that before he became pope, then-Cardinal Bergoglio “always recognized that, without calling it ‘marriage,’ in fact there are very close unions between people of the same sex, which do not in themselves imply sexual relations, but a very intense and stable alliance.”

“This can be contemplated in the law and is called ‘civil union’ [unión civil] or ‘law of civil coexistence’ [ley de convivencia civil], not marriage,” Fernandez wrote.

Archbishop Aguer, who led the Archdiocese of La Plata from 2000 to 2018, recalled the 2010 debate about civil unions.

“Cardinal Bergoglio, then being the Archbishop of Buenos Aires, proposed in a plenary assembly of the Argentine bishops’ conference to support the legality of civil unions of homosexual persons by the state, as a possible alternative to what was called – and is called – ‘marriage equality.’”

“At that time, the argument against him was that it was not a merely political or sociological question, but that it involved a moral judgment; consequently, the sanction of civil laws contrary to the natural order cannot be promoted. It was also noted that this teaching has been repeatedly stated in the documents of the Second Vatican Council. The plenary of the Argentine bishops rejected that proposal and voted against it,” Aguer said.

The archbishop added that “in 2003 the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith declared that ‘respect for homosexual persons cannot lead in any way to approval of homosexual behavior or to legal recognition of homosexual unions.’ It’s not unreasonable to think that such unions, to which it is proposed to grant legal recognition, are not ‘platonic’; therefore, it would be implicitly approving the coverage of homosexual activity in the law.”

The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that those who identify as LGBT “must be accepted with respect, compassion, and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill God’s will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lord’s Cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.”

The Catechism elaborates that homosexual inclinations are “objectively disordered,” homosexual acts are “contrary to the natural law,” and those who identify as lesbian and gay, like all people, are called to the virtue of chastity, and called to holiness.

The archbishop said that in his view, the Catechism proposes “a path of spiritual improvement oriented towards the achievement of chastity, through the practice of ‘the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom,’ prayer and sacramental grace.”

For Aguer, “the ecclesiastical approval of ‘civil unions’ would bring on the de-Christianization and dehumanization of society.”

The archbishop affirmed his respect for the pope, but said that in his view, the pope’s remarks in a documentary “do not have a magisterial character.”

“I compare it with the conversations that the popes have during their trips with journalists in the plane’s passageway; They may be interesting, but they lack the specifications that are proper to a magisterial genre; although issued by a relevant personality, they are no more than private opinions.”

In addition, Aguer said, “in the case of a matter on which there is certain Catholic teaching, if the Holy Father had the intention of introducing a change, the reasonable thing is to maintain that he would expressly state it with authority and good arguments.”

The archbishop warned against a tendency he called “Pope-olatry,” among some Catholics, saying it “is not healthy behavior.” He noted that “the initial repercussions” to the pope’s words “already caused contrasting reactions, which raises fears of a widening of divisions among the faithful, a deepening of the ecclesial ‘rift’ which undeniably exists.”

“I hope that theologians, cardinals and bishops with greater wisdom and authority than I, will bring some light to these dark moments,” he said.

For Aguer, “it’s very painful to think of the spiritual damage the faithful who suffer due to their disorderly inclination will suffer if the Church should back the recognition of civil unions, sanctioned by the state as a right to have a family; this would place an obstacle to the possible healing process described in the Catechism.”

“Because the mercy of the truth is owed to these persons,” he said.

The archbishop urged Catholics to prayer, and urged them to “hope, which lights up suns in our night.”


A version of this story was first published by ACI Prensa, CNA’s Spanish-language news partner. It has been translated and adapted by CNA.