DAILY CATHOLIC     WEDNESDAY     August 5, 1998     vol. 9, no. 152

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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          BUENOS AIRES (CWNews.com) - In an statement that has increased tensions between the government and the Catholic Church in Argentina, the bishops' conference has said that a recent political move "can be seen as an effort to use religion for political purposes."

          The latest clash between the bishops and President Carlos Menem started last Thursday when the government announced that the Secretary for Religious Affairs would report directly to the president and not to Foreign Ministry, as it has traditionally. The sudden change provoked the criticism of the Secretary for Religious Affairs and the country's bishops. "This looks like revenge and an effort to take political control over religious affairs," said Bishop Rafael Rey, president of Caritas, the Catholic relief service.

          Early last week, the bishops exchanged mutual criticism with the Argentine Ambassador to the Vatican, Andres Cacelli. While Cacelli said, "Some bishops exaggerate the situation, embarrassing Argentina," Bishop Rey said: "Cacelli is manipulating religion in favor of the presidency in a way that is scandalous for an ambassador." Bishop Rey said the Vatican and Pope John Paul II "have a positive attitude toward Argentina's pro-life stand in the international arena," but accused the government of trying to use the Pope's image "as if the Pope is supporting the current government, and that is not the case."

          Menem recently announced that he will not run for a third term, but several political analysts say he could change his mind at any moment. The latest clash between the government and the Church stems from a dispute over economic policy. While Menem insists that the country's economy is improving, the bishops say that 20 percent of the population still lives with a monthly income of US$62. dollars per month, while the cost of living is similar to that of the United States.

Articles provided through Catholic World News Service.
CWN is not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provides this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

August 5, 1998       volume 9, no. 152


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