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Today’s post will be a quick one. I have been able to locate an article on an Argentinien website which nicely explains the present situation in the Catholic Church in Argentina. (see Spanish version here) I have translated it below and am posting it FOR THE RECORD. I have also included a chronology of Jorge Bergoglio’s positions during his ecclesiastical career in Argentina for your reference.
From the evidence below, the picture is not pretty.
Two aspects (DATA POINTS) become quite apparent, especially when superimposing the career timeline of Bergoglio with the timeline of the disintegration of the Catholic Church in Argentina.
The first is the present (as of 2014) divergence between Church attendance in Argentina (20%) with that of other South American countries (70%) as referenced to CARA in the article.
The second is the drop of vocations ( I am assuming for the Buenos Aires dioceses) described in the third paragraph, according to one Father Julio Miranda, that went from 200 at the “end of the 1980’s” to 80 today. That represents a 60 percent drop over a 26 year period (assuming 1990 -2015 as the base period).
Jorge Bergoglio was either the Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (1992–97) or the Archbishop of Buenos Aires (1998–2013), during most of this time, absent 2 preceding years and the three years after his enthronement. Practically the entire disintegration of vocations in the diocese of Buenos Aires coincided with the time during which he was directly responsible for the diocese (1998-2013) or held a high level position of authority (1992-1997). Furthermore, the disintegration of the entire Catholic Church in Argentina coincided with at least the last half of his tenure in Argentina, i.e. over the years in which he was a Cardinal-Priest of San Roberto Bellarmino (2001–13) and head of the Argentine Church.
I will end here.
Concluding, the situation of the Catholic Church in Argentina is a disaster. That disaster can be laid at the feet of one Jorge Bergoglio, presently the bishop of Rome, Francis. It was under his watch that the Argentine Church began to resemble, in terms of church attendance the national churches in Western Europe more than they resemble the national churches on the South American continent. It was also under his administration that clerics were advance, such as Archbishop Victor Manuel Fernandez, of “Heal Me With Your Mouth: The Art Of Kissing” fame. It was also under his watch that priest like Father Julio Miranda and the anonymous priest cited in the article were and still are allowed to present their quite “earthy”, shall we call the beast by name- TRANSRATIONAL diagnoses and views.
Is it any wonder then, that there is a “crisis of vocations” in this country. Once again, the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, a jurisdiction that contains 3 million inhabitants, will be ordaining 3 priests this year.
I say again: T H R E E
I would call this a case of: EPIC FAIL
How is it that no one in Rome seen it coming?
Brief C.V. of Jorge Bergoglio. (see here)
|Ordination||13 December 1969
by Ramón José Castellano
|Consecration||27 June 1992
by Antonio Quarracino
|Created Cardinal||21 February 2001
by John Paul II
|Previous post||Provincial superior of the Society of Jesus in Argentina (1973–79)
Auxiliary Bishop of Buenos Aires (1992–97)
Titular Bishop of Auca (1992–97)
Archbishop of Buenos Aires (1998–2013)
Cardinal-Priest of San Roberto Bellarmino (2001–13)
Ordinary of the Ordinariate for the Faithful of the Eastern Rites in Argentina (1998–2013)
President of the Argentine Episcopal Conference (2005–11)
FOR THE RECORD (with emphasis added)
Priesthood: The crisis of vocations in the Church hits
Topic for Sunday
The number of seminarians dropped by almost half over the last 15 years in the country. In 2016, the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires receive only 15 candidates. Reasons.
This year, 2016, only three seminarians will be ordained as priests and will be integrated in the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires. This number, in an ecclesiastical jurisdiction which contains more than three million inhabitants and was the home of origin of the current Pope, marks an unprecedented decline of the priesthood as a choice for the consecrated life. This grim diagnosis that applies to the diocesan church also prevails in most religious orders, suffer from the crisis of priestly vocations. The result of this phenomenon is that a number of parishes in Greater Buenos Aires and inside the country have only occasional coverage of a permanent priest- who occasionally resolves administrative issues or administers the sacraments, but who does not live in the parish, or some dioceses call on foreign priests, from Poland or recently evangelized countries like South Korea, where growth is being sustained. Meanwhile some religious congregations which are in crisis, giving up their parishes to the local dioceses of their jurisdiction, because the priest died or was transferred and no longer have new replacements to fill the vacancies.
In the statistics of the OSE (Organisation of seminaries in Argentina) this steady decline is observed. Of the 1,501 seminarians studying to become priests in the country in 1999, the figure had declined to 827 by 2014. In the case of the Metropolitan Seminary of the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, located in Villa Devoto, this year the number of seminairians is 80, with only 15 new entrants, three of them from the slums of the city and Greater Buenos Aires.
The appointment of an Argentine pope, precisely from the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires, with the idea of the “Church of the peripheries”, “missionary” (church) that will convey “the joy of the Gospel”, could not mitigate the fall in consecrated vocations. The phenomenon that is evident in Argentina is common in secular Europe, but not in Latin America, much less in Asia and Africa, where the rate of attendance at weekly mass is about 70% of the Catholic population, compared to 20% on the old continent, according to a 2015 report by the Center for the Applied in the Apostolate (CARA) Research.
Father Julio Miranda, rector of the metropolitan seminary admits to the difficulties. “For now Francisco has had no impact on revenue. These are historical movements that take time to change. In the ’80s, there was a boom of vocations, there were 200 seminarians and then the decreases set in. In those times, being a priest was seen as a social distinction, the “pretty little figure” (possibly “joy of..) of the family. In these times, it is a service to God’s people, to people, depending upon a call that many themselves do not understand. Parents do not always accept with joy when their child wants to be a priest, “said Father Miranda Clarin.
A priest who forms seminarians in the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of Buenos Aires, who asked not to be named, believes that beyond the “exogenous” factors, such as the secularization of contemporary culture and notion that “the ideal of priestly celibacy is no longer valued” there is a reluctance to recognize internal factors. “The seminary is an obsolete institution and reforms to modernize it are no longer enough. Like any internship environment tends to produce regressive effects on people, and in this context, this activity (priestly formation) does not stimulate psychological maturity, sense of responsibility, inner freedom.
The seminarian almost always moves in ecclesiastical circles, without sufficient contact with the outside world, and this usually leads to a clerical vision, which places the Church (not necessarily Christ) as the central reference for understanding the world,” says the priest. The seminary lasts eight years. It begins with an introductory course, six years of philosophy and theology with a semester of pastoral experience in the parish, and the diaconate, leaving the candidate ready for ordination. Overall, about 60% of those who start the introductory course come to the finish.
“Everyone who enters has the intuition that God calls him, but there are many eyes watching them (to discern) if they meet the usual features of that call. There is a time to talk, days of prayer, discernment. And if the call is not there, he is asked to look elsewhere. The seminary is like a courtship. If one realizes that things are not going well, they are not going. The living conditions are not easy. Celibacy, poverty, obedience … But following the vocation is what makes them happy,” said Father Miranda. In church tradition, new vocations came from religious schools, parishes, days of prayer or from the life of faith that was been transmitted in their families. But the parish youth groups are becoming smaller and continuous additional process of dechristianization with the exodus to other confessions, mark an epochal crisis that impacts the Church.
“It is true that the world is moving faster than the proposals that we propose for addressing the priestly vocation” admits Father Julian Anton, director of the Vocational Institute San Jose, a minor seminary in Buenos Aires. But also the world had changed the profile of vocations. Today young people reach the seminary practically alone, without a family or absent parents previously. The climate of faith in the home no longer exists. But if they decided to come, it is because they made a serious search, a solid choice, which is much more complex than choosing a profession. “
Seminarian trainers agree that there are still no signs of vitality and renewal that can reverse the decline in priestly vocations. Neither in Argentina nor in the same Archdiocese gave a pope to command the Universal Church. Perhaps the answers, rather than secular society, are in the ecclesial reality itself.