Statement of the Executive Committee
of the Bishop Conference:
The Church of Argentina Denounces a Campaign Made Against It
Points to the sheer number and relentlessness of the attacks that “aim to blur the image of the Church.” Believes the attacks are intended to make the people lose trust in the institution.
November 6, 2002
[Translated into English by BishopAccountability.org. Click below to see original article in Spanish.]
See original article.
The Episcopal Conference, the nucleus of the hundred or so bishops of the country, denounced yesterday what it considers a "campaign" against the Church, hell bent – presumably – on the Church “losing society’s trust in their institution” or “refraining from condemning social injustices and instances of corruption.”
In a statement, the Executive Committee -- that is, the upper echelon of the Church – expressed their “astonishment at the sheer number, and doggedness, of the attacks that, most recently, aim to blur the image of the Church.” No attack in particular was mentioned.
The statement came on the heels of recent sex scandals involving two priests. The first of these cases involved former Archbishop of Santa Fe, Archbishop Edgardo Gabriel Storni, who resigned from his position beleaguered by allegations of abuse of seminarians. The resignation was accepted shortly thereafter by Pope John Paul II.
The other case, the more recent of the two, revolved around the popular priest Julio Cesar Grassi, the “inspiration” behind the Happy Children Foundation. Grassi was denounced in an investigation conducted by Telenoche Investiga, which aired on Channel 13, for alleged indecent assault and corruption of minors. The priest has been in detention for nearly two weeks, at the disposal of the Law.
The two cases had enormous public ramifications. Never before had an Argentine archbishop resigned in the midst of a sex scandal. And the program that denounced Grassi was the most viewed this year on television in Argentina, with a rating of almost 40 points.
Because the church is constituted by humans, it is “subject to the temptation of sin,” says the official statement of the Executive Committee, adding, “This demands constant ‘conversion’ and penitence, and so we ask every day for God’s grace to overcome it." But the Church "is not afraid of the truth and doesn’t intend to hide from it."
However, it considers that this “does not give permission to make condemning judgments about individuals or institutions before a fair trial. Doing so would be based exclusively on presumptions that are an affront to the good name and reputation of certain individuals, in addition to dishonoring them, also damaging the sentiment of a large part of the community.”
"It may be that the ulterior motive of this campaign is to strip the Church of the trustworthiness recognized in it by society, or for the Church to refrain from expounding on the moral and social consequences of its principles.”
All things considered, “the Church will never fail to fulfill its mission to provide the community with the truth that arises from the doctrine of Christ, even if it may not appeal to those who, forgetful of the dignity of human beings and the solidarity that must govern their relations, are solely motivated by grow in wealth or power.”
The text is the first official pronouncement of the national Church on the Storni and Grassi cases. So far the only public statement was given last September, following a Bishops’ Plenary. The statement was made by Cardinal Bergoglio, and was limited to the issue involving the former Archbishop of Santa Fe. Speaking on behalf of his peers, he defended the actions of the Justice System to resolve the accusations against Storni.. "There is a court case that follows," he said.
The Executive Committee, author of the statement, is composed of its President, Archbishop Estanislao Karlic (Archbishop of Paraná), his first and second Vice Presidents, Monsignor Eduardo Mirás (Archbishop of Rosario), and Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio (Archbishop of Buenos Aires), and its General Secretary, Monsignor Guillermo Rodríguez Melgarejo.
Regarding the Grassi case, the only immediate statement was made by Monsignor Justo Laguna, the bishop of Morón – who presides over the priest’s jurisdiction – who called for a refrain from “premature judgment” of Grassi “until Justice gives a definitive verdict.”