An Argentine bishop has said the seminary in his diocese was ordered to close last month by a decision of the Vatican’s Congregation for Clergy, after a controversy surrounding the reception of the Eucharist during the coronavirus pandemic.
Bishop Eduardo Maria Taussig of San Rafael said that the Santa Maria Madre de Dios Seminary in Mendoza, Argentina was ordered to close in December, at the conclusion of the academic year, by the Congregation for Clergy, and not the Diocese of San Rafael.
“The decision took me by surprise, but it is a directive that comes directly from the Holy See,” Taussig said.
The bishop said the decision to close the seminary was deeply upsetting, and he has since been discussing with the Vatican where the former students of the school will be sent to in order to continue their studies.
Each seminary transfer will be made on an individualized basis, Taussig said to local media on Friday.
“We are going to discern for each [seminarian] and decide the most appropriate school and timeline for their transfer. Some will go to Mendoza, to San Juan. We will see these changes in the coming weeks.”
As many offices in Rome are closed during the month of August, those talks will continue in early September, said Taussig.
Taussig said that the Vatican’s decision to close the seminary was made in early July, in a move that took him by surprise.
The bishop said that the Congregation for the Clergy informed him that due to the trouble the seminary had maintaining a rector – having had seven in the past 15 years – it did not seem worth it to keep the seminary open.
Taussig said that he spoke for an hour with Cardinal Stella, and on July 8 he received a letter from the Congregation for the Clergy which stated “the need to close the diocesan Seminary at the end of the academic semester.”
“As a bishop, I know that when Rome has spoken, the discussion is over.”
“We bishops make a promise of fidelity and obedience to the Holy Father,” said Taussig, adding that the Vatican has many perspectives to consider when making decisions, and that these decisions were made in light of similar situations around the world.
The diocese announced the closure July 25, and the bishop noted at that time “difficulties that the diocese is going through were taken into consideration, in the context of the measures related to COVID-19 prevention, and the reluctance or lack of obedience to the provisions that had been established.”
A large number of the priests in San Rafael have not complied with COVID-19 directives regarding the distribution of communion in the hand, among them many former students of the Santa Maria Madre de Dios seminary, which has been seen by some to be behind the priest’s “reluctance” to require communion in the hand, the bishop said.
This refusal to comply had caused “serious scandal inside and outside the seminary and diocese,” said Taussig.
Taussig said that reception of the Eucharist in the hand or on the tongue are both equally accepted by the Church.
This page is available to subscribers. Click here to sign in or get access.