The Catholic Church in Argentina has a long tradition of religious tolerance, including tolerance of people of all religions, but it is under strain.
In the early 1990s, Pope John Paul II declared that the country was in the midst of a “crisis of the soul” and urged people to seek a spiritual “foster”.
“Today we are at a crossroads, and we cannot let go of the path of Christ,” he wrote.
“If we choose to follow him, we can help the world heal, heal the planet and build a better future.”
In April 1996, Argentina’s Catholic Church was rocked by mass sexual abuse allegations against priests in the city of Buenos Aires.
The accusations prompted widespread condemnation by politicians and religious leaders, including Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, who called the scandal a “crime against humanity”.
Since then, Argentina has faced repeated attempts to reform its church, led by the Pope.
His encyclical on the environment in 2009 urged Argentina to abandon its reliance on coal and gas.
But a change in the country’s leadership has led some church leaders to consider abandoning the current policies of the Pope and Francis, including the controversial plan to replace the Catholic Church with a Protestant church.
The change of leadership in Argentina’s political system has been accompanied by growing concerns that the new government is not committed to the church’s traditional values.
The Pope has criticised Argentina’s new government’s “radical change of faith” and has called for dialogue and reconciliation.
However, many Argentines are uneasy about the political climate and the new policies, and they have expressed concern about the potential damage caused by Francis’s papacy.
One of the main reasons why Argentines have been uneasy is the church hierarchy’s handling of the mass sexual assaults allegations against Catholic priests, which led to a wave of criticism.
The Church has responded by creating a commission to investigate the sexual abuse claims.
Argentina has also introduced legislation to combat the problem of “mafia” influence in the Catholic church, but critics say it has been poorly implemented.
“The Vatican’s new policy is a major problem because it’s a very powerful organisation,” said Carlos Guillen, a journalist based in Argentina and the founder of the Catholic Global Network, an online community for Argentines.
“But I don’t think it’s going to help Argentina much.”
“The new pope has shown himself to be a very effective politician, but what is really important for Argentina is to see if the new pope is really committed to these kinds of reforms.”
The Vatican has also been forced to respond to Argentina’s own scandals.
The Vatican’s internal watchdog, the Congregation of the Doctrine in the Apostolic See, issued a report in February 2016 that found that the Vatican had failed to protect victims of clerical sexual abuse.
“Vatican City, in particular, has been a center of abuse of the vulnerable,” the report stated.
It added that a Vatican document issued in 2009 “included recommendations for further reform in the Vatican” but that it was “not in compliance with the requirements of the Congregations Code of Canon Law”.
The Vatican was also forced to admit to the United Nations that it had allowed priests to abuse children during the 1960s and 1970s.
The report said that, “given the scope of the problem, the need for effective protection and redress and the serious consequences that this poses, it is not the time for a change of heart.”
In June 2016, Pope Francis announced that he would be taking on a new position in his papacy, the Pope Francis has been accused of being “paternalistic” and “lacking the maturity to deal with serious challenges”.
He has also faced criticism for his stance on immigration, calling for a “complete, total, and immediate return to the Catholic way of life” and for the deportation of undocumented immigrants.
In October 2016, the US Department of Justice announced it was investigating whether the Vatican is violating the emoluments clause of the US Constitution by providing preferential treatment to church officials.
The emolument clause states that US presidents can’t receive payments from foreign governments while in office.
A recent US Supreme Court ruling overturned the law, allowing for the pope’s office to continue to receive payments to the Pope from foreign countries.