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Pope Francis: Cooperated with Argentina Military dictatorship?

Catholic cardinals, (115 of them eligible to vote), selected Argentine Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope. The Catholic elected Pope Francis (76 of age) who headed Argentina Jesuits Order during the military dictatorship of 1976-1983.  Francis of Assisi was the founder of this order.

This is the first time a Pope is from Latin America and also the first Pope from the Jesuit Order.  There had been much hope for a non-European pope, and Bergoglio fits that bill.

Bergoglio was consecrated cardinal by Jean Paul II and was a candidate 7 years ago, the second runner, in the last election for a Pope. He was a highly conservative clergy: against abortion, against gay marriage, against women priests, and against many modern issues. He allowed baptizing children from out of wedlock.

Colin Snider posted on March 13, 2013:

Argentina military dictatorship of 1976-1983, murdered upwards of 30,000 people (as well as kidnapping hundreds of children whose parents the regime had tortured and murdered).

Unlike Catholic officials in neighboring Chile and Brazil, where priests, bishops, and even cardinals spoke out against human rights abuses and defended victims of abuses, the Catholic Church in Argentina was openly complicit in the military regime’s repression.

Bergoglio was not exempt from this involvement: military officers have testified that Bergoglio helped the Argentine military regime hide political prisoners when human rights activists visited the country.

And Bergoglio himself had to testify regarding the kidnapping of two priests who he stripped of their religious licenses shortly before they were kidnapped and tortured.

This isn’t just a case of Bergoglio being a member of an institution that supported a brutal regime; it’s a case of Bergoglio himself having ties, direct and indirect, to that very regime.

This is why the selection of Bergoglio over Scherer (Brazil cardinal) is disappointing.

Thirteen years younger than Bergoglio, Scherer’s path was notably different. The Catholic Church supported Brazil’s military dictatorship (1964-1985) in its early years. However, as Ken Serbin has demonstrated, already by the late-1960s and early-1970s, high-ranking officials in the church hierarchy were secretly meeting with representatives from the dictatorship in order to try to pressure military rulers to respect human rights, even for alleged “subversives.”

By the latter half of the 1970s, the Brazilian Catholic church had become one of the more vocal opponents of human rights violations under the regime, and the Archdiocese of São Paulo ultimately played a central role in secretly accessing, collecting, and publishing files on torture, murder, and repression under the dictatorship, eventually published in 1985 as Brasil: Nunca Mais (literally Brazil: Never Again; in English, Torture in Brazil).

Where Bergoglio was active in a context where the Argentine Church openly supported military regimes and human rights violations, Scherer was active in a context where members of the Brazilian Church openly took a stand against such abuses and against the regime that committed them.

A few weeks ago, a student asked me if I thought the cardinals would finally pick a Latin America pope. I commented that if they were smart, they’d diversify by picking a Brazilian and democratizing a bit, but I feared they’d pick an Italian and show a refusal to reform and democratize the church. With the selection of Bergoglio, it appears they’ve chosen to split the difference, diversifying beyond Europe while continuing the conservatism that defined recent popes.”

Would Pope Francisco use his past and his new position to try not only to transform the Church but to provide a platform that advocates human rights and the punishment of human rights violators?

Pope Francis has to come clean and admit his previous positions and actions. I would greatly help if he issues an explicitly statement in support of human rights under any authoritarian regimes.




May 2023

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