Thursday, July 28, 2011

Five Argentinian priests publish new "tell all" book

La Voz (7/24/2011) with additional material from Dia a Dia (7/20/2011)
English translation by Rebel Girl

They are priests who have just published a book, Cinco Curas, Confesiones silenciadas, with accounts of homosexuality in seminaries, of love affairs with women, and their disagreement with the authorities of the Archdiocese.

Although they have all been suspended from active ministry, they are priests and will be until they die, because in the Catholic Church the sacrament of Holy Orders can not be dissolved.

Nicolás Alessio, Adrián Vitali, Elvio Alberione, Horacio Fábregas and Lucio Olmos are the priests who have dared to tell their stories in a book about their disagreements with diocesan authorities, their critical view of celibacy, homosexual activity in the seminaries, their political activism during the last military dictatorship and their ties with the latest strong man of the Church of Cordoba, Raúl Cardinal Primatesta.

In that respect, Vitali, married with two children, told of a meeting with the cardinal. "He called me into his office and asked, 'Is it true that you left a girl pregnant?'. I said 'yes', firmly. He asked me if I had gone to confession and I told him 'no' because I didn;t think it was a sin to father a child with the woman I loved. There was silence and he said I could continue pastoral ministry in another place in Argentina or abroad, but on the condition that I wouldn't see them anymore. He said the Curia would take responsibility for paying child support as required by law."

Alessio revealed details of the last conversation he had with Carlos Ñáñez, the archbishop of Cordoba, when he was reprimanded for expressing an opinion in favor of equal marriage [for same sex couples]. "'They have filed a complaint against me,' Ñáñez told me nervously in his office at the Archdiocese. He asked me to recant my statements and I flatly refused. We were with Vicar Horacio Alvarez, and they warned that I had left them no choice. I wanted to know who had initiated a complaint against them. Moreover, I told them that if the conservative right had them cornered, the whole Grupo Angelelli would come to their defense. But he didn't answer. He continued with the canonical forms, brought me the written warning and asked me to sign it." Alessio also recounts an instance when the bishop asked him not to use the word "justice" in his homilies.

Wages and militancy. Olmos said Primatesta wanted the priests to live off what they charged for baptisms, weddings and communions, "as most priests live, but I didn't want that; I wanted to work so as not to have to live off the people, that's why I was in Cechetto, because I wanted a manual occupation, in contact with the working class." He also revealed how he joined the Montoneros.

Fabregas talked about the seminary practices that "numb" the minds of future priests. "From 4 to 6.30 pm, again one had to be quiet to study, then, evening community prayer (called Vespers), followed by Mass, and finally dinner, some free time and at 11 pm Silence again. All the schedules were marked by the sound of the bell. Imagine repeating that routine 10 months a year for seven years. Every day. Almost no contact with the outside world. Such a life, at age 18, numbs your brain. They break your spirit, discipline you, make you submit, brainwash you." Fábregas also talks about a nun who corrupted the seminarians and his disillusionment that almost nobody respected the celibacy requirement.

In the book, Alberione speaks of the Church's complicity with the coup of '55. But he also says who earns wages in the Church. "In the Church in Argentina, the only ones who earn a state salary are the bishops and chaplains of public agencies."

Four of the five priests also did a TV show recently in connection with their book:

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

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