13 February 2008

See No Holy

And now for some good news... The powers that be in Argentina finally seem willing to end the unjustified existence of a shameful institution and, in the process, remind other powers that be that we can't always be treated like fools.

This is most unusual news, one that hasn't exploded onto the headlines but trickled slowly onto less visible places, but by now the matter is like a thick stain.

(You have no idea how difficult it is to write like that. Enough.) Some time ago, former Minister of Justice Alberto Iribarne was proposed as ambassador to the Vatican (or, as they humbly prefer to call themlseves, the Holy See). The normal diplomatic procedure is to let the other country know the name of the ambassador, and ask for its placet, that is, it's official OK. If the other country says nothing for a while, it's understood that they won't OK the proposed candidate, so he or she is silently withdrawn, and replaced in due time with another one, hopefully more acceptable.

Iribarne, so they say, has all the credentials to become an ambassador anywhere... except he's divorced, and currently lives with a woman he isn't married to. The moral censors of the Vatican couldn't let this pass. A man who lives in sin! I mean, you can let child abusers work there, and admit war-mongering murderers like George W. Bush through the gates, but — a man whose sexual union with a woman hasn't been ritually blessed by a Catholic priest? No way.

Yet this wouldn't've become a public issue if it weren't by a mysterious leak to the press. Somebody somehow got the news and published it, and there was a wave of outrage from Argentina, and a counter-wave of supposedly hurt feelings from the Vatican. From our side came support for Iribarne, one of the very few politicians that can be said to have earned the respect of most of his colleagues. Some also noted that, by the Vatican's strict rules, a quarter of all adult Argentine citizens would be considered unfit to talk to the Church as representatives of their country, simply because they didn't repeat the bunch of predigested nonsensical promises that the priest forces couples to utter before the altar.

Adding insult to injury, apparently, the Vatican proposed that Iribarne could be accepted after all, but only if his... how do you call that... let's say female mate... did not ever accompany him in official diplomatic ceremonies. That is, if Iribarne acted like a pious single man, or a widower. Iribarne flatly refused, saying he wouldn't dare impose such indignity on his companion. That's a man, girls.

Argentina isn't going to cut off diplomatic relations with the Vatican — that, sadly, would be unthinkable — but neither is it going to appoint another candidate for the embassy. The post will be left vacant for a couple of years, and a minor official will be left there ad interim. This turns out to be, actually, much ado about nothing, because most diplomatic relations between Argentina and Popeland is conducted through the Papal Nuncio.

What this did serve for was to decide, indirectly, the fate of an institution much younger than the Vatican, much younger than the ludicrous idea that a tiny piece of land with a theocratic dictatorship led by non-elected high priest should be considered, and treated as, a country. I'm speaking of the end of the Military Vicariate. But that's news for another day.

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