The Argentinean press reported last week that the reason for the Vatican declining to give official approval for the country’s newly named Ambassador to the Holy See, Alberto Iribarne, a divorced and remarried Catholic, could lead to the naming of a replacement.
Reporter Jose Ignacio Llados of the Buenos Aires daily “La Nacion,” said the lack of approval by the Vatican Secretary of State has irked the government of Cristina Kirchner and has become a new source of tension with the Church, “just when it seemed relations had been focused after the meeting between Kirchner and the executive committee of the Bishops’ Conference, led by Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and the meeting with Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone.”
Llados explained that the Argentinean government bears most of the blame for the lack of approval because it ignored the two conditions the Vatican has for the acceptance of an ambassador: that he or she not harbor anti-religious sentiments and that he or she not present canonical irregularities if the person in question is Catholic. In the case of Iribarne, the “canonical irregularities” do not relate to his being divorced, but rather to his remarriage outside the Church.
Llados said that while the State has the right to name anyone it wants to be ambassador, the receiving State also has the right to accept or decline. Therefore, the solution is in holding preliminary consultations, which was not done by the Argentinean government.
The Argentinean government compiled a list of divorced ambassadors that represent their countries before the Holy See…but it failed to mention that none of them are Catholic and therefore they are not subject to canon law.
“Nobody questioned the moral integrity of Iribarne,” Llados said. “It’s not a moral problem, but rather a canonical irregularity of the designated ambassador.”
The newspaper Clarin reported that Kirchner supporters have confirmed that “there was not even the slightest chance the Vatican would change its position,” as “there is no precedent for granting the placet to a divorced and remarried Catholic, not with this Pope or any of the previous ones.” “Therefore,” Kirchner supporters said, “if the idea is to progress in relations with the Holy See, insisting on Iribarne carries the risk of further deterioration.”
The newspaper reported as well that “the closest case to Iribarne is that of a Nicaraguan official who was granted the placet after it was shown that is annulment case is currently being processed and on the condition that his wife not accompany him during official diplomatic acts until his case has been settled. Iribarne has not opened an annulment process nor does he seem willing to keep his current wife in the background.”