A Falkland Islands ingredient has been added to the strained relations between the administration of Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner and the Vatican.
According to reports in the Buenos Aires press the Argentine Catholic Church has requested the naming of two new dioceses in Patagonia but the Kirchner administration had conditioned the request to the inclusion of the Falklands/Malvinas in the Tierra del Fuego dioceses, which apparently the Vatican does not accept. Some time ago Argentine bishops proposed dividing the extended Patagonia territory into a dioceses based in Tierra del Fuego, currently dependent from Rio Gallegos in the neighboring province of Santa Cruz, and a second based in Comodoro Rivadavia, province of Chubut to be split by the creation of the Esquel prelacy. When the presentation was made the Argentine government requested that the bishops include in the new dioceses of Tierra del Fuego, the Falklands/Malvinas islands. According to the Argentine press this would have meant the recognition by another state, the Vatican, of sovereignty over the disputed Falkland Islands. However the Vatican refused to accept the proposal and the Argentine government then decided to freeze the Catholic Church's request, further complicating relations with the papal state. According to the Argentine press the issue was addressed personally by Mrs. Kirchner when in early June she visited Rome for a FAO meeting on the food crisis, and she met with Cardinal Tarciso Bertone the Vatican Secretary of State. Among the pending issues is the naming of a new Argentine ambassador before the Vatican following the non acceptance by the Roman Curia of a former cabinet minister from the Kirchner administration Alberto Iribarne who happens to be divorced. "There are no expectations of a new ambassador for the next four years", said Vatican sources quoted in the Argentine press. Argentina and the Vatican also have clashed over the Argentine Armed Forces chaplain, whom the Kirchner administration has said was involved (passively) in human rights abuses. The Kirchner administration is also extremely sensitive to criticism from the Argentine Catholic Church which has pointed out to some "presumptuous attitudes" of the government, has prayed for a more democratic functioning system and has openly questioned official figures showing poverty in Argentina allegedly has decreased. The Kirchers on their side have a pro abortion stance which irritates the Church.