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Appointment of bishop ends long dispute between Vatican, Argentina

March 29, 2017

This week Pope Francis named Bishop Santiago Olivera of Cruz del Eje, Argentina, to become the head of the country’s military ordinariate, filling a post that had been vacant for a decade because of a longstanding dispute between the Argentine government and the Holy See.

In 2005, when the government—then led by President Nestor Kirchner—threw its support behind a move to legalize abortion, Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto, the bishop for the military forces, denounced the plan in vigorous terms. In retaliation, Kirchner cut off the bishop’s salary, despite a bilateral agreement that required the government to pay the expenses of the military ordinariate. When Bishop Baseotto retired a year later, the Vatican declined to replace him, instead making a temporary appointment.

The impasse apparently ended on March 27 when Pope Francis appointed Bishop Olivera as the official head of the military ordinariate. That appointment could also signal an improvement in relations between the Pope and the government of his native country.


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