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Diocesan commission backs Argentina bishop over seminary closing

November 4, 2020 CNA Daily News 2

CNA Staff, Nov 4, 2020 / 08:00 pm (CNA).- Amid tension and protests in one Argentine city over the Vatican-ordered closure of a diocesan seminary, some Catholics have expressed their support for the decision to close the seminary, and for their diocesan bishop.

“We stand with you, bishop, as an instrument of the Divine will, and by the Ministry you have been invested in, and in sacred obedience, we assure you of our prayers to the Blessed Virgin so that she may strengthen you and that you may continue in the fidelity that God has asked of you,” said a Nov. 1 statement from the social and pastoral ministry commission of the Argentine Diocese of San Rafael.

The statement came after protestors demonstrated last week in front of the diocesan offices and cathedral of the San Rafael diocese, urging a reversal of a decision from the Vatican to close the Mary Mother of God Seminary in the diocese, which was announced in July.

The seminary is well regarded in the diocese, largely because of the large number of diocesan priests who have been trained there. But the Congregation for Clergy ordered the seminary closed this summer, because, according to the diocese’s Bishop Eduardo Taussig, the seminary has had seven rectors in 15 years.

In October, Taussig visited Rome to address the Vatican-ordered closure, and when he returned to the diocese told Catholics the matter was not up for further discussion. Protestors in recent weeks have called for the Vatican to conduct an apostolic visitation of the seminary before its closure.

The seminary has been the flashpoint of conflict in the diocese over a June directive from Taussig, in line with other dioceses in the region, that Holy Communion was to be received only in the hand, and not on the tongue, because of the coronavirus pandemic.

In San Rafael, where Communion is customarily received on the tongue by many Catholics, that order was met with resistance, and many priests of the diocese refused to comply. The seminary has been perceived by some to be behind the priests’ reluctance to require Communion in the hand, the bishop has 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 Aug. 20, 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.

Some in the diocese, including parents of seminarians, say they have written to Pope Francis to urge that the seminary be permitted to remain open. The social and pastoral ministry commission has criticized the protestors, urging support for Taussig and trust in the Vatican’s decision.

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.