Hilary White

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Argentina Military Bishop Sanctioned over Abortion Comments - Vatican Condemns Measure

Hilary White

BUENOS AIRES, March 21, 2005 (LifeSiteNews.com) - The president of Argentina, Nestor Kirchner, has withdrawn support for the Vatican-appointed bishop of the country’s military and has asked the Vatican to appoint someone else. The Vatican however is maintaining Bishop Antonio Juan Baseotto in his position and has criticized the Argentine government for obstructing religious freedom.

The clash started with Health Minister Ginés González García’s announcement February 14, of his support for legalizing abortion and the free distribution of condoms. In late February, the bishop said in a letter to Gonzalez Garcia that when he saw the minister distributing condoms publicly to youths, he recalled the Gospel phrase in which “Our Lord affirmed that ‘those who scandalize little ones should have a stone tied around their neck and be thrown into the sea.’” Bishop Baseotto also told the minister that he risked becoming “an apologist for the crime of murder.”

Many news agencies and the government have claimed that the comments referred to the practice of the former military regime of Argentina who executed opponents by dumping them out of airplanes into shark-infested ocean waters. The reference however, was actually from the Gospel of Mark, “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to sin, it were better for him if a great millstone were hung about his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” Christ’s words are taken seriously by Catholics as an illustration of the magnitude of the ‘sin of scandal,’ or leading others astray.

Vatican spokesman Joaquín Navarro Valls said in a statement, “Obviously, if a bishop appointed legitimately by the Holy See, according to the norms of canon law and the existing agreements, is prevented from exercising his pastoral ministry, it would be a violation of religious freedom, as well as of the above-mentioned agreements.”

In 2002, the Vatican signed a joint agreement that the bishop for the military would be appointed as usual by Rome and have his salary paid by the Argentine government.

Bishop Baseotto has come under fire before from leftist opposition for statements comparing abortion to the Nazi Holocaust and for saying that ‘the disappeared’ - the victims of Argentina’s former military regime - had more supporters than the unborn.

Related LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
  Argentinean Health Minister Pushes for Legal Abortion

Argentine President Proposes Self-Described “Militant Atheist” for Supreme Court

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