The government of Cristina Kirchner has decided to “chastise” Church officials in Argentina for their criticism of its policies by announcing it will cancel a 198 year-old tradition and replace the traditional Te Deum prayer of May 25 at the Cathedral of Buenos Aires with a “multi-religious” ceremony in northern Argentina.
Previously the Te Deum has traditionally been prayed at the Cathedral in Buenos Aires to mark important political changes that took place in the country on May 25, 1810.
No Argentinean bishop has responded to publicly to the decision by the Kirchner administration, but the president of Campus Ministry for Buenos Aires, Father Guillermo Marco—who until recently was spokesman for the Archdiocese of Buenos Aires—told Noticias Argentinas news agency that the move was in response to criticism of the administration by Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio.
“For a long time the only institution that warned against the dangers of some tendencies in this government and the previous one was the Catholic Church,” Father Marco said. “This running away from Buenos Aires is due in part to displeasure over the cardinal’s homilies,” he added.
This is not the first time the Kirchners have reacted to criticism from Church officials. In 2005, President Nestor Kirchner, husband of the current president, broke a long tradition and decided to move the Te Deum celebration to the city of Santiago del Estero and in 2007 he moved it to Mendoza, in response to comments by Cardinal Bergoglio during a Mass in 2006.
“The Church was the only institution that warned of the dangers that we are now seeing,” Father Marco stressed. He noted the paradox of the government’s decision to hold the multi-religious ceremony at the Cathedral of Salta. “I don’t know how many representatives of other religions are going to go to Salta, which is one of the most Catholic provinces of the country, about 98% Catholic,” he said.