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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Pope Francis and the Dirty War in Argentina


Last year on March 15th the New Yorker Magazine wrote an article: Pope Francis and the Dirty War.  The article called the Pope, “an Argentine with a cloudy past”.
“Cloudy” has to do with his role during Argentina’s anti-Communist actions over 30 years ago. The military regime ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, a time called the Dirty War. Their goal was to eliminate Communists and other “subversives.” As many as thirty thousand people were tortured and killed. There was trafficking in babies: pregnant women were killed after they gave birth and their babies adopted by childless military families and friends of the regime. According to the article many of these children grew up not knowing that their parents “are, in effect, their biological parents’ killers”.

History repeats itself for the catholic church. During Spain’s Civil War, the Church openly sided with the Fascist Franco’s inquisition. In Rome during the Second World War Pope Pius XII signed a concordat (agreement) between the holy see (the pope and his advisors) and the German Reich giving Hitler the credibility he needed to gain power. The Argentine Catholic Church involvement in the military regime’s anti-Communist campaign was once again an alliance with the dictators. One of Jorge Bergoglio’s (now Pope Francis) predecessors, Archbishop Juan Carlos Aramburu, openly sided with the military’s purge.
The catholic church acted as a spiritual guide for the military and some bishops were given soldiers as personal servants in their palaces. Military chaplains were blessing drugged bodies of suspected guerrillas as they were loaded onto military planes, from which they were then hurled to their deaths, unconscious, over the Rio de la Plata.

What was Jorge Bergoglio doing at this time? Accusations, including testimony from several priests and bishops say that he was involved in the Dirty War. He was the head of the Society of Jesus in Argentina (the Jesuits). The key allegation against him is that he pointed out rebel priests to the military, leaving them exposed and that he did not defend two kidnapped clerics or ask for their release.
Gabriel Pasquini, an Argentine writer and editor of the online current-affairs magazine El PuercoespĂ­n said about Bergoglio: “For someone who aspires to be a bastion of moral values, it doesn’t seem like a great precedent. Never, in the years he headed the Catholic Church in Argentina, did he acknowledge its complicity in the dictatorship, much less ask for forgiveness. Will he do so now, from the Vatican?”

Said Jon Lee Anderson of the New Yorker: “Whatever the truth, Francis the Humble, it would seem, has much to clear up about what he thought, how he behaved, and what he did during his country’s Dirty War. As with the role of the Church he has long served, it remains a mystery.”