The Catholic Church played a key role in the defeat of the bill that would have legalized abortion in Argentina on August 8. But at a cost. Its place in Argentine society and the fact that the Constitution establishes that Argentina – and therefore Argentine taxpayers – fund its activities has become a hot topic in the aftermath of the historic debate.
Many are now strongly arguing that it’s time for an official separation of Church and State in Argentina, and are symbolizing so through the use of the orange scarf or pañuelo.
What’s surprising about this movement is that many of its members are in fact members of the Catholic Church – regardless of whether they are actively practicing – and, aided by a group of organizations advocating for a secular state, they have been abandoning the Church to give further visibility to their discontent.
On Saturday, August 18, these organizations, under the umbrella of the Coalición Argentina por un Estado Laico (Argentine Coalition for a Secular State), held their second event in the City of Buenos Aires – as well as other parts of the country – where they provided all elements necessary for the so-called apostasy (the abandonment of their religion). The first one was held on August 8, the day when the abortion bill was defeated in the Senate.
En CABA ya hay mucha gente! pic.twitter.com/jWnwRgW5BM
— Apostasía Colectiva (@ApostasiaAr) August 18, 2018
According to the event’s organizers, the turnout was much larger than expected, with hundreds of people queuing to disaffiliate themselves from the Church. To start the process – which the CAEL will then take care of – they only had to write down their name and last name, and date and church in which they baptized. CAEL was founded twelve years ago and organized the first “collective apostasy” event in 2009, but interest has grown exponentially during the debate over the abortion bill, and especially after its defeat.
“The separation of Church and State is fundamental to achieve a floor of equality for all the citizenship, regardless of the beliefs and convictions the people who inhabit our land may have. We call on all organizations who support our secular claim to adhere and join the collective apostasy, setting a place to receive and process all apostasy requests,” explained the CAEL in the press release announcing the latest event.
The group will hold more events in different parts of the country during the week, and will then present all letters gathered to the Argentine Episcopacy on Friday, August 24.