Argentine Catholic Apostolic Church

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Not to be confused with Catholic Church in Argentina.
Iglesia Católica Apostólica Argentina (Argentine Catholic Apostolic Church)
Abbreviation ICAA
Classification Independent Catholic
Polity Episcopal
Associations Worldwide Communion of Catholic Apostolic National Churches
Region Argentina
Founder Leonardo Morizio Domínguez
Origin c. 1973
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Branched from Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church

The Argentine Catholic Apostolic Church (Spanish: Iglesia Católica Apostólica Argentina, ICAA), also known as the Argentine National Church, was a church derived from the Brazilian Catholic Apostolic Church (ICAB). ICAA was founded c. 1973 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Leonardo Morizio Dominguez, its first archbishop and primate. After ICAA dissolved, its bishops founded separate congregations.


Morizio Dominguez was a former Roman Catholic priest, apparently after converting from Judaism,[speculation?] and served as a military chaplain during the 1960s. He was consecrated as archbishop and primate in 1972 by Luigi Mascolo, an ICAB bishop.

ICAA styled itself as a national church and was registered in the Registro Nacional de Cultos (Spanish for National Register of Religions) c. 1978.

Pedro Ruiz Badanelli[edit]

In 1973, Pedro Ruiz Badanelli (es) (1899–1985), converted and was consecrated as a bishop by Morizio Dominguez. Badanelli was a notable former priest of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Argentina, an academic canon lawyer, founder of university departments, and dissident catholic supporter and friend of President Juan Perón. In 1958, Badanelli wrote, in his book Perón, La Iglesia y un Cura, that he rejected the idea of an Argentine state religion similar to the Church of England, and denied the rumour that in 1960 ICAB Bishop Carlos Duarte Costa clandestinely consecrated him in Buenos Aires. Nonetheless Badanelli later adhered to ICAA (though his dissidence and militant support of Perón had never actually earned him excommunication[speculation?]) and was consecrated by Leonardo Morizio Dominguez in 1973. Badanelli objected strongly to the Roman Catholic hierarchy's public proposal that ICAA clergy should wear pearl grey colored cassocks, like the ICAB clergy, to distinguish them from Roman Catholic clergy.

Relationship with the military dictatorship[edit]

Given the political situation in Argentina in 1974–1976, and the return of Perón from exile, the national Church could be assumed to have come into its own,[according to whom?] although Perón himself, by Badanelli's own testimony, had no interest in supporting a national Catholic Church. ICAA was linked to the Argentine Anticommunist Alliance, a death squad, and its alleged leader José López Rega. The widely considered complicity of the Roman Catholic hierarchy with the Military Junta (1976–1983), as opposed to the organized resistance at Catholic 'grass roots' level, invites questions as to why the oppressors should have seen any benefit in espousing the actions of this schismatic church,[speculation?] although a schismatic bishop[who?] celebrated a Nationalist Christmas Eve Mass at the site of a proposed national mausoleum of Argentina (es) in 1974.

After 1983 deregistration[edit]

After the National Reorganization Process, the latest military dictatorship, ended in 1983, ICAA was deregistered from the National Register of Religions. By this time Morizio Dominguez consecrated José Eugenio Tenca Rusconi (c. 1930–2003), a former Roman Catholic priest, as a bishop, who in turn later consecrated all of the current ICAA bishops.[a]

Tenca Rusconi dissolved ICAA in 2001 and each of its bishops – Bergonzi Moreno, Frías, Arnedo, Gabucci, Lencina – founded separate congregations. After Tenca Rusconi died, Bergonzi Moreno recreated an ICAA[clarify] and operates another group, Fraternidad Sacerdotal de Cristo Obrero; Guedes operates a sanctuary in Ingeniero Maschwitz and two other groups, Sacerdotes Obreros, Misioneros del Espíritu Santo; and Gustavo Gabucci leads the Instituto María Rosa Mystica, Sacerdotes Carismáticos Misioneros. Guedes and Gabucci attended the 2005 international council of the Worldwide Communion of Catholic Apostolic National Churches. These congregations generally aim to preach a traditional catholic message to disaffected portions of the overwhelmingly – at least nominally – Roman Catholic population of Argentina.


ICAA was dogged by controversy in recent years.[when?] A TV report exposed "sham" marriages by priests pretending to be Roman Catholics, phoney miracles and fake exorcisms perpetrated by members of the ICAA. Other branches[which?] of the Church have achieved extraordinary feats[peacock term] in the field of working with immigrants and marginalised groups. Badanelli ordained and consecrated Alvaro Andrade Arregui, known as "Padre Pedro", who achieved notoriety in Argentina through a charitable works coupled with illegal practice of medicine, theft, securities fraud, attempted sexual corruption of minors, and other crimes.[1] The Roman Catholic authorities and other Catholic groups, however, consistently warn about the dangers of associating with ICAA.


  1. ^ In 1992 Tenca Rusconi ordained Dante Luis Bergonzi Moreno (1965–) to the priesthood and consecrated him as a bishop three years later. Bergonzi Moreno is the current Bishop–Primate of ICAA and operates a sanctuary in Alejandro Korn, Buenos Aires. Tenca Rusconi also consecrated Ramón Frías, Eduardo Lencina, Gustavo Gabucci, and a Monsignor Arnedo as bishops. Bergonzi Moreno, in turn, has consecrated Carlos Walter Vich Pizarro and Carlos Adrian Guedes Dominguez as bishops.


  1. ^ "Rechazan una demanda iniciada por un religioso". (in Spanish). Buenos Aires. 2010-07-16. Archived from the original on 2015-10-17. Retrieved 2015-10-17.