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Pope Francis and the Dirty War: Keeping the Record Straight – Part II

Hagiographies of Jorge Mario Bergoglio may soon obliterate what was written before the media created Pope Francis Superstar. This is an effort to preserve this information along with some background as to what took place during the Argentine dictatorship.

While Bergoglio was head of the Argentine Jesuits (1973-1979) two of his priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, were working in a Buenos Aires shantytown, Bajo Flores. They were captured, tortured and released by the military in 1976. The daughter of a lay Catholic leader, Emilio Mignone, who had been working alongside Yorio and Jalics, was kidnapped a week earlier along with seven other catechists. None were ever seen again. After a ten year investigation into his daughter’s disappearance, Mignone wrote a book, Church and Dictatorship: The Role of the Church in Light of Its Relations with the Military, naming members of the Argentine Bishops’ Conference engaged in a “sinister complicity” with the junta.

According to Mignone, Yorio, Jalics, the priests’ friends and siblings and the court testimony of a Bajo Flores co-worker taken along with Yorio and Jalics and also released, Bergoglio had made it known that the workers in the shantytown no longer had the church’s protection thereby enabling the two raids. Mignone wrote that “because of various expressions heard by Yorio in captivity, it was clear to him that the Navy interpreted some criticism from his provincial, Jorge Bergoglio, as an authorization to take action against him.” Mignone thought Bergoglio’s criticism of their work “served as part of the basis for the arrest, imprisonment and torture of the Jesuit priests.” At least three secular academics familiar with this historical period accept this narration. Of all the people present at the time these events took place, only a friend of Bergoglio’s, Alicia Oliveira, disagreed with this description.

After Bergoglio was elected pope, numerous articles discussed the new pontiff’s role during the Dirty War. The Vatican dismissed them all as coming from “anti-clerical, left-wing elements.”

The pope’s apologists established “straw men” by claiming that Bergoglio’s critics accuse him of active collaboration in the junta similar to the hierarchs named by Mignone and General Jorge Videla and that he actually reported Yorio and Jalics to the authorities. Yorio, who left the Jesuits, died in 2000. Jalics, who remained a Jesuit, made a terse statement: “Before, I was inclined to believe that we are victims of a denouncement. But in the late 90s I realized after numerous discussions that this assumption was unfounded. It is therefore wrong to assert that our capture was done on the initiative of Father Bergoglio.” Jalics did not address the issue of whether their capture was facilitated by Bergoglio giving the impression they were “fair game.”

Pope Francis has made numerous appointments, beatifications and canonizations which honor those who support right-wing dictatorships. A month after his election, the pontiff named Honduran Cardinal Oscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga as head of his group of closest advisers. Rodríguez Maradiaga supported the right-wing coup which overthrew the democratically-elected, progressive President Manuel Zelaya. Pope Francis also picked Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa for this select group. Errazuriz was a vociferous defender of the Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, and praised his regime. The pope chose Archbishop Pietro Parolin as his secretary of state. Parolin is often described as being close to Cardinal Angelo Sodano, John Paul II’s secretary of state who helped direct church resources in support of military dictators and promote Latin American clerics like Bergoglio.

Pope Francis canonized John Paul II as a saint and beatified Paul VI whose ambassador to Argentina, Archbishop Pio Laghi, kept the lists of those murdered during the Dirty War.

Part I is here.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio Elected Pope March 13, 2013

TalkingPointsMemo, March 13:
“…..Bergoglio almost never granted media interviews, limiting himself to speeches from the pulpit, and was reluctant to contradict his critics, even when he knew their allegations against him were false, said Rubin [co-author of The Jesuit].
That attitude was burnished as human rights activists tried to force him to answer uncomfortable questions about what Church officials knew and did about the dictatorship’s abuses after the 1976 coup.
Many Argentines remain angry over the church’s acknowledged failure to openly confront a regime that was kidnapping and killing thousands of people as it sought to eliminate ‘subversive elements’ in society. It’s one reason why more than two-thirds of Argentines describe themselves as Catholic, but fewer than 10 percent regularly attend Mass.
Under Bergoglio’s leadership, Argentina’s bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the Church’s failures to protect its flock. But the statement blamed the era’s violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.
‘Bergoglio has been very critical of human rights violations during the dictatorship, but he has always also criticized the leftist guerrillas; he doesn’t forget that side,’ Rubin said….
Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court, and when he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman said.
At least two cases directly involved Bergoglio. One examined the torture of two of his Jesuit priests — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — who were kidnapped in 1976 from the slums where they advocated liberation theology. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Jalics refused to discuss it after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.
Both men were freed after Bergoglio took extraordinary, behind-the-scenes action to save them — including persuading dictator Jorge Videla’s family priest to call in sick so that he could say Mass in the junta leader’s home, where he privately appealed for mercy. His intervention likely saved their lives, but Bergoglio never shared the details until Rubin interviewed him for the 2010 biography.
Bergoglio told Rubin that he regularly hid people on church property during the dictatorship, and once gave his identity papers to a man with similar features, enabling him to escape across the border. But all this was done in secret, at a time when church leaders publicly endorsed the junta and called on Catholics to restore their ‘love for country’ despite the terror in the streets.
Rubin said failing to challenge the dictators was simply pragmatic at a time when so many people were getting killed, and attributed Bergoglio’s later reluctance to share his side of the story as a reflection of his humility.
But Bregman said Bergoglio’s own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens, and yet publicly endorsed the dictators. ‘The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support,’ she said.
Bergoglio also was accused of turning his back on a family that lost five relatives to state terror, including a young woman who was 5-months’ pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977. The de la Cuadra family appealed to the leader of the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Bergoglio to help them; Bergoglio then assigned a [bishop] to the case. Months passed before the [bishop] came back with a written note from a colonel: It revealed that the woman had given birth in captivity to a girl who was given to a family ‘too important’ for the adoption to be reversed.
Despite this written evidence in a case he was personally involved with, Bergoglio testified in 2010 [sic] that he didn’t know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over.
‘Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies. He says he didn’t know anything about it until 1985,’ said the baby’s aunt, Estela de la Cuadra, whose mother Alicia co-founded the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977 in hopes of identifying these babies. ‘He doesn’t face this reality and it doesn’t bother him. The question is how to save his name, save himself. But he can’t keep these allegations from reaching the public. The people know how he is’…..”

Pagina 12, March 14: By Verbitsky
“….Among the hundreds of calls and emails received, I choose one. ‘I cannot believe it. I am so distraught and so hoarse I do not know what to do. He got what he wanted. I’m seeing Orlando in the dining room at home some years ago saying ‘he wants to be pope’. He is the right person to cover up the rot. He’s the expert at cover-ups. My phone has not stopped ringing. Fito called me crying.’ It is signed by Graciela Yorio, the sister of Orlando Yorio, the priest who denounced Bergoglio as responsible for his abduction and torture he endured during five months of 1976. The disconsolate Fito is Rudolfo Yorio, his brother. They devoted many years of their lives pursuing the allegations of Orlando, a theologian and Third World priest who died in 2000, whose nightmare came true yesterday.”

BBC, March 14:
“….’Bergoglio is questioned because it is said that he did not do enough to get two priests out of prison while he was the Jesuit provincial. But I personally know many bishops who called on the military junta to free prisoners and priests and whose pleas were rejected,’ said Adolfo Pérez Esquivel….In the opinion of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and Argentine human rights activist, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Bergoglio ‘had no ties to the dictatorship. There were bishops who were accomplices but Bergoglio was not,’ Perez Esquivel said in an interview with BBC World.
Pérez Esquivel, who received the Nobel Prize in 1980 for his work in defense of human rights in Latin America, acknowledges that during the military government ‘there were many bishops who were passive’ and ‘the hierarchy in many cases remained silent.’
‘If the Episcopal Conference had been united and spoke with one voice, they would have been a large force to save lives, but that wasn’t the case in Argentina.’
In any case, Perez Esquivel recalled that many religious ‘made quiet efforts to release many prisoners.’
‘There were many priests and religious who were persecuted, imprisoned and tortured. The persecution was in all social sectors. Not only religious but also lay people involved in local communities, parishes, who were also abducted and disappeared to this day.’”

Note: Perez Esquivel did not address the charge that Bergoglio withdrew his protection of Yorio and Jalics. He is not claiming knowledge of the circumstances before or after the kidnapping of Yorio and Jalics or what Bergoglio did or didn’t do to bring about their freedom. He is only asserting that there were prelates who were accomplices – like Primatesta, Arambula, Tortola, Laghi – and Bergoglio was not one of them.

New York Times, March 14:
“…..The Argentine justice system has conducted numerous investigations into the junta’s crimes and no personal blame has been attached to Pope Francis, but the church in Argentina continues to live under the shadow of the Dirty War. As recently as last December, a provincial tribunal denounced the ‘complicity’ of the church in the human rights violations of the dictatorship and a continued reticence on behalf of church authorities and clerics to throw light on such crimes.
Argentine Catholic leaders have long admitted the church’s failings during the Dirty War. As archbishop of Buenos Aires, Cardinal Bergoglio last year led bishops in an acknowledgment of the church’s failure to protect its flock during the 1970s.
However, the statement angered some human rights activists by placing equal blame for the violence on the military and its opponents.”
[Reports Yorio’s account per Verbitsky and Bergoglio’s denial]
‘The future pope told his biographer he had helped to hide potential targets of the junta and ‘I did what I could, given my age and my limited contacts, to plead on behalf of those who had been seized.’”
[The article then quotes much of the BBC’s interview with Pérez Esquivel.]

Salon, March 14:
“It’s without dispute that Jorge Mario Bergoglio, like most other Argentines, failed to openly confront the 1976-1983 military junta while it was kidnapping and killing thousands of people in a Dirty War to eliminate leftist opponents.
But the new pope’s authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, argues that this was a failure of the Roman Catholic Church in general, and that it’s unfair to label Bergoglio with the collective guilt that many Argentines of his generation still deal with.
‘In some way many of us Argentines ended up being accomplices,’ at a time when anyone who spoke out could be targeted, Rubin recalled in an interview with The Associated Press just before the papal conclave….
‘Perhaps he didn’t have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship,’ said Adolfo Perez Esquivel… ‘Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship. He can’t be accused of that,’ Perez Esquivel told Radio de la Red in Buenos Aires….
‘There’s hypocrisy here when it comes to the church’s conduct, and with Bergoglio in particular,’ said Estela de la Cuadra….’There are trials of all kinds now, and Bergoglio systematically refuses to support them.’
[Repeats comments of Myriam Bregman]
Rubin said Bergoglio actually took major risks to save so-called ‘subversives’ during the 1976-1983 dictatorship, but never spoke about it publicly before his 2010 biography, The Jesuit.
Bergoglio gave his identity papers to a “wanted man” etc. and added that many times he sheltered people inside church properties before they were safely delivered into exile.
[Yorio’s accusation.]
Bergoglio said he had told the priests to give up their slum work for their own safety, and they refused.
‘I warned them to be very careful,’ Bergoglio told Rubin. ‘They were too exposed to the paranoia of the witch hunt. Because they stayed in the barrio, Yorio and Jalics were kidnapped.’
Yorio is now dead, and Jalics has refused to discuss these events since moving into a German monastery….
Rubin said Bergoglio only reluctantly told him the rest of the story: that he had gone to extraordinary, behind-the-scenes lengths to save them. [Said Mass at Videla’s] Once inside the junta leader’s home, Bergoglio privately appealed for mercy, Rubin wrote….Bergoglio: ‘We moved like crazy…I began moving to save them.’
‘It’s a very sensitive subject,’ Rubin told the AP. ‘The Argentine Church was one of the most conservative in Latin America. It showed a good disposition toward the military authorities, who, to make matters worse, considered themselves Christians and called themselves good Catholics.’
Within the Church hierarchy at the time, there were about 50 bishops, and most were conservatives. Some were very progressive, and ended up killed. Bergoglio was somewhere in the middle, Rubin suggested….
Rubin says activists closely allied with the government of President Cristina Fernandez ‘have tried to insert Bergoglio into some human rights trials, even when he truly shouldn’t be.’
On the other hand, activists say the Argentine church waited far too long to apologize for its human rights failures, and has yet to identify those responsible for many human rights violations that the church was aware of at the time….
Bergoglio was named Buenos Aires cardinal in 2001. But it wasn’t until 2006, after then-President Nestor Kirchner declared an official day of mourning for Angelelli on the 30th anniversary of his death, that Bergoglio called him a ‘martyr’ in the church’s first official recognition that the bishop was murdered.
[Recounts the de la Cuadra family story.] “There’s hypocrisy here when it comes to the church’s conduct, and with Bergoglio in particular,” said Estela de la Cuadra. “There are trials of all kinds now, and Bergoglio systematically refuses to support them.”

New Republic, March 14:
[Repeats Perez Esquivel “Bergoglio was not an accomplice.”]
“….’It was a difficult time for the church,’ recalls Robert Cox, former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald. Cox was forced to go into exile in 1979 after he received threats for publishing news stories on the disappeared. ‘The church was worried that if they split, the country would split, and there would be a civil war. This was always their excuse for not taking a firmer stance.’ He speculates that Bergoglio did ‘as much as he could behind the scenes,’ but has not done enough to publicly explain the incident, or the role of the Catholic Church and the dictatorship more broadly.

The Guardian, March 15:
[Quotes part of Graciela Yorio’s email to Verbitsky, then references El Silencio.]
“’Verbitsky is not wrong, but he doesn’t understand the complexity of Bergoglio’s position back then when things were so dangerous,’ said Robert Cox…‘He can’t see how difficult it was to operate under those circumstances.’
But Cox…suggests Bergoglio could have done more. ‘I don’t think he gave them in,’ he said. ‘But Bergoglio didn’t protect them, he didn’t speak out.’
[Quotes Perez Esquivel “Bergoglio not an accomplice.”]
Francesca Ambrogetti, co-author of The Jesuit, says Bergoglio told her he took great risks to save others. ‘I believe he did all he could at that time,’ she said. ‘It’s a complex issue that is very difficult to explain after so many years’….
[Bergoglio: “I moved fast”….how he met Videla.]
Myriam Bregman, an Argentine lawyer in the continuing trials of crimes at the ESMA death camp, says Bergoglio’s appointment to the papacy left her confused. ‘It gave me a feeling of amazement and impotence,’ said Bregman, who took Bergoglio’s declaration regarding Jalics and Yorio in 2010.
‘Bergoglio refused to come [and] testify in court,’ she recalled, making use of Argentine legislation that permits ministers of the church to choose where to declare.
‘He finally accepted to see us in an office alongside Buenos Aires cathedral sitting underneath a tapestry of the Virgin Mary. It was an intimidating experience, we were very uncomfortable intruding in a religious building.’
Bregman says that Bergoglio did not provide any significant information on the two priests. ‘He seemed reticent, I left with a bitter taste,’ she said.
[Reports Elena de la Cuadra’s disappearance, family being referred to Bergoglio by Arrupe, Bishop Ricci’s response.]
Estela de la Cuadra said she was at first astonished, then appalled when a friend texted the news that Bergoglio had been chosen as the new pope.
‘It is unthinkable, horrifying given what I know about his history,’ she said, recalling the disappearance of her sister….
For Estela, Bergoglio did the bare minimum he had to do to keep in line with [Arrupe]. She says the story underlines the close connections between the Catholic Church and the military junta, as well as what she sees as lies and hypocrisy of a new pope who once claimed to have no knowledge of the adoptions of babies being born in concentration camps and then adopted by families close to the regime.
‘I’ve testified in court that Bergoglio knew everything, that he wasn’t – despite what he says – uninvolved,’ said Estela, who believes the church worked with the military to gather intelligence on the families of the missing.
She is also furious that Bergoglio refused to defrock Christian von Wernich who was jailed for life in 2007 for seven killings, 42 abductions and 34 cases of torture, in which he told victims: ‘God wants to know where your friends are.’
She is now requesting classified documents from the Argentine Bishop’s Conference and Vatican archives, which would shed more light on the issues.
That is unlikely to be approved in Rome, though it would – until Wednesday at least – have probably gone down well in the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
The Argentine president is a staunch advocate of taking to court not only military officers responsible for the killing of thousands of young activists, but also civilians who may have played a role back then….
When Bergoglio does occasionally speak out in public, it tends to be with allusions rather than direct references to Argentina’s darkest era. When trials reopened in 2006, he suggested it was not a good idea to churn up the problems of the past, although this was seen as a comment on the rise in the number of trials.
‘We are happy to reject anger and endless conflict, because we don’t believe in chaos and disorder … Wretched are those who are vindictive and spiteful,’ he said in a public sermon.

Perfil, March 15: Interview with Alicia Olveira
There was much talk in recent days about Francis’ relationship with the Argentine military during the dictatorship.
I can attest that he always favored the needy during the dictatorship and he was not in favor of that. He even helped many people to leave the country.
What relationship did you have with him in the ’70s?
I hung out with Jorge twice a week. At that time the military had fired me as judge. He told me what he did. I remember on Sundays going to San Ignacio the town where he was. We made a meal, a small religious ceremony, he greeted people and then took the opportunity to talk to people to bring out. Once there was a young man who could not get out because he was marked. But Bergoglio gave him his [ID] card and his clergy clothes so he could escape.

BBC, March 15:
“….’I see a lot of joy and celebration for Pope Francis, but I’m living his election with a lot of pain.’
These are the words of Graciela Yorio….Ms Yorio accuses the then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio of effectively delivering her brother and fellow priest Francisco Jalics into the hands of the military authorities by declining to endorse publicly their social work in the slums of Buenos Aires, which infuriated the junta at the time….
For Estela de la Cuadra, the election of Cardinal Bergoglio as pope, was ‘awful, a barbarity’…. ‘He gave my dad a handwritten note with the name of a bishop who could give us information on our missing relatives,’ Ms de la Cuadra says…Ms. de la Cuadra believes the handwritten note contradicts [Bergoglio’s account as he] testified under oath on the subject in May 2011….
Almost every day there is a judicial hearing where former officials are tried for human rights abuses. More than 600 have been convicted of charges including torture, the theft of babies, illegal arrests and murder.
Pope Francis has testified twice in two separate cases, but has never been formally investigated. There is no evidence that he was in collusion with the regime.
Alicia Oliveira, a former Argentine judge, says she has been friends with the man who became Pope Francis for 40 years.
‘He was very critical of the dictatorship,’ she says, rejecting claims that he might have had links with the former military regime.
‘He would come to my house twice a week and tell me about his concern for the priests who did social work in slums.’
‘When the priests were kidnapped, he met Emilio Massera to ask for their release,’ Ms. Oliveira adds….
Mr. Perez Esquivel: ‘To be accused in Argentina of having had links with the military regime is something extremely sensitive. After all, almost 20,000 people are still listed in official documents as “disappeared”, while human rights groups put the figure closer to 30,000.
Cardinal Bergoglio was never investigated as there has been no strong evidence that links him in any way to one of the darkest chapters of Argentine history.’

Statement by Father Franz Jalics, March 15:

I lived in Buenos Aires since 1957. In 1974, moved by the inner desire to live the Gospel and enhance visibility of the abject poverty, and with the permission of Archbishop Aramburu and the then Provincial, P. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, I moved to a favela, a slum of the city, together with a fellow brother. While living there, we continued to teach at the university.
About 30,000 people, leftist guerillas as well as innocent civilians, were killed within one or two years by the military junta in the civil war-like situation of the time. The two of us in the slum had no contact to the junta or the guerillas. Due to the lack of information and targeted misinformation at that point in time, our position was open to misinterpretation within the church. At this time, we lost connection to one of our lay partners when the person joined the guerilla. When she was captured and interrogated by junta soldiers nine months later, they learned that she had been in contact with us. We were then arrested in the assumption that we were also associated with the guerilla. After a five-day interrogation, the officer who was in charge of the questioning released us with the words, ‘Padres, you were not guilty. I will see to it that you can return to the slum.’ Contrary to this statement and inexplicably to us, we were detained, blindfolded and shackled for five months after that. I’m unable to comment on the role of P. Bergoglio in this matter.
After we were set free, I left Argentina. It was only years later that we had the opportunity to discuss the events with Father Bergoglio who in the meantime had been appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Following that, we celebrated Mass publicly together and hugged solemnly. I am reconciled with the events and on my part, consider the matter to be closed.
I wish Pope Francis God’s rich blessings for his office
Father Franz Jalics SJ 15 March 2013

Vatican Press Office, March 15:

The campaign against Bergoglio is well-known and dates back to many years ago. It has been carried out by a publication specializing in sometimes slanderous and defamatory campaigns. The anticlerical cast of this campaign and of other accusations against Bergoglio is well-known and obvious….
There was never a concrete or credible accusation in his regard. He was questioned by an Argentinian court as someone aware of the situation but never as a defendant. He has, in documented form, denied any accusations.
Instead, there have been many declarations demonstrating how much Bergoglio did to protect many persons at the time of the military dictatorship. Bergoglio’s role, once he became bishop, in promoting a request for forgiveness of the church in Argentina for not having done enough at the time of the dictatorship is also well-known.
The accusations pertain to a use of historical-sociological analysis of the dictatorship period made years ago by left-wing anticlerical elements to attack the church. They must be firmly rejected.
Regarding “Liberation Theology”: Bergoglio has always referred to the Instructions of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. He has always rejected violence saying that its price is always paid by the weakest.

The Guardian, March 15:
“In a statement at a press briefing, Jesuit Fr. Federico Lombardi, the pope’s spokesman, said the allegations against Jorge Bergoglio ‘must be clearly and firmly denied.’ [Repeating much of the above, Lombardi restated that] the accusations came from ‘anticlerical, left-wing elements that are used to attacking the church.’
Lombardi also pointed out that Jalics had on Friday released a statement saying he had since celebrated Mass with Bergoglio and was reconciled to what happened. In the message, posted on the website of the German Jesuits, Jalics did not explicitly exonerate the new pope, but said he could not ‘take a position on the role of Father Bergoglio in these events.’
‘Bergoglio helped people too,’ said Rodolfo Yorio, Orlando’s brother. ‘He was two-faced. If the military killed someone, then Bergoglio had nothing to do with it, but if someone was saved, he was the one who saved them.’
Others gave a more positive account of Bergoglio’s role during the Dirty War. ‘We were friends already back then and he stood by me when my world became very dark,’ said Alicia Oliveira who spoke to Bergoglio on the phone only a couple of days before he left for Rome. [Repeats prior interview] She said they had not discussed the possibility that he might be elected pope. ‘We don’t need to talk about that. Besides, he has many enemies here, and you never know who might be listening on the line.’”

Miami Herald, March 15:
“Estela de la Cuadra complained that while Bergoglio has testified twice in human rights cases, he has refused to do so in open court. Once, he insisted his testimony be written, and the other time, he agreed to testify, but only if questioned in his own office.
‘He’s arrogant,’ she said.
Late last year, the Argentine church said it would investigate the role of the church in the dictatorship after former junta leader Jorge Rafael Videla told journalist Ceferino Reato in an interview that his government enjoyed a close relationship with the clerical hierarchy.
On Friday, Reato told McClatchy that at that time, ‘Bergoglio did not have any kind of political weight. The Jesuits as a whole did not carry a lot of weight,’ Reato said.
But the allegation of church complicity with the Dirty War still resonates, Reato said, because many sectors of society have yet to take responsibility for their actions during the dictatorship.
‘It isn’t just the church that has lacked this self-critique, it’s also the business leaders and unions,’ Reato said. ‘There’s still a fear of discussing the past.’'”

The Guardian, March 15:
“….In 1976, when she was suddenly without a job, and living in some fear because of a life-long commitment to human rights causes, Oliveira recalls a moving gesture from Bergoglio: ‘He sent me a bouquet of roses.’
Oliveira said the accusations that Bergoglio failed to speak out against the dictatorship, and withdrew the protection of his Jesuit order from the two priests who were kidnapped, are untrue.
‘I personally saw how much he suffered for the priests who were being pursued by the dictatorship,’ said Oliveira. ‘He talked about it to me continually. At the time we were meeting about twice a week. Before they were kidnapped, he told me how hard he was trying to convince them to stop working in the slums, because it was too dangerous, but they insisted on staying to help the poor. So when they were finally kidnapped, he was devastated and did everything in his power to save them.’”

Frankfurter Allgemeine, March 16:
Members of Jalics’ family spoke to reporter Marie Katharina Wagner the same day Jalics’ statement was released. Jalics’ family rejected Bergoglio’s account in The Jesuit that the two priests asked to be dismissed from the Jesuits rather than give up their work with the poor. If that’s what he wanted, the family said, they would have known since he frequently corresponded with his brother. “The Order was his life.”
In his 1995 book, Contemplative Retreat, Jalics wrote: “The injustice of being detained despite evidence of innocence, created dreadful impotence and great anger in me. Yet my anger turned more against those who had made the wrong complaint against us.” He did not give a name, but his family has no doubt he meant Bergoglio. Jalics was convinced that Bergoglio had betrayed him and Yorio to the military. “Several times he had so clearly expressed this allegation in the family circle.”
His brother believes that it was in the mid-eighties when Jalics and Yorio went to Rome to bring their version of the story to the Jesuit’s superior general. They took all the documents they had. Jalics came back disillusioned and told his brother he would burn all his papers from this period.
At the end of the eighties, Jalics met with Bergoglio in Buenos Aires. Afterward, he told his brother that Bergoglio had apologized to him but he did not say specifically what was said. He said he forgave Bergoglio and did not want to spend the rest of his life in anger like his friend, Orlando. At that time, Jalics ceased to talk about the past. When his brother asked him how he had taken the news that Bergoglio was elected pope, Jalics said that it was as he had suspected for a long time.

La Nacion, March 16:
Judge German Castelli: ‘It is totally false to say Jorge Bergoglio handed over the priests. We analyzed it, we listened to that version, we saw the evidence and we understood that his actions had no legal implications in these cases….We do not judge if Bergoglio might have been more or less brave. The question is if he delivered the priests or not. And we agree that there are reasons that we denounce this.”

IPS (Buenos Aires), March 16:
“….Argentine archbishop Jorge Bergoglio was selected as pope at a time when the Roman Catholic Church in this South American country is facing a rebellion by priests and laypersons who reject the role of the church leadership during the 1976-1983 dictatorship and the lack of reparations for past omissions and complicities.
The accusations against Bergoglio for his alleged ties to the dictatorship, which made headlines around the world when his appointment as pope was announced by the Vatican, are just the tip of the iceberg of a controversy that has raged for decades without a solution and which is coming to light as the regime’s human rights violators have been brought to trial since the amnesty laws were scrapped….
[Repeats Perez Esquivel’s prior statements adding:] ‘I believe [Bergoglio] lacked the courage to support our struggle for human rights at the most difficult times,’ Esquivel said in a statement issued by his organization, Servicio de Paz y Justicia (Peace and Justice Service) in Argentina.”

Salon, March 16:
“[T]he former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio emerges from a Jesuit order that has been largely purged of its independent-minded or left-leaning intellectuals; and his reputation at home in Latin America is decidedly mixed. His papacy…comes after 40 years of internal counterrevolution under the previous two popes, during which a group of hardcore right-wing cardinals have consolidated power in the Curia and stamped out nearly all traces of the 1960s liberal reform agenda of Pope John XXIII and Vatican II.”

Indeed. The Jesuit Creighton University in Omaha announced in October 2013 that their business school accepted a “large donation” from the Charles Koch Foundation and their new Institute for Economic Inquiry “is funded 50-50 by pledges totaling $4.5 million over five years by the Charles Koch Foundation and the family of Omaha trucking entrepreneur C.L. Werner.”

Consortium News, March 17:
“….In the 1970s, Father Jorge Bergoglio faced a moment of truth: Would he stand up to Argentina’s military neo-Nazis ‘disappearing’ thousands including priests, or keep his mouth shut and his career on track? Like many other church leaders, Pope Francis took the safe route….
Rather than a serious and reflective assessment of the actions (and inactions) of Cardinal Bergoglio, [Nicaraguan] Cardinal Obando, Pope John Paul II and other church leaders during those dark days of torture and murder, the Vatican simply denounces all allegations as ‘slander,’ ‘calumny’ and politically motivated lies.”

CNN, March 17:
“…..Francis, in particular, was accused in a complaint of complicity in the 1976 kidnapping of two liberal Jesuit priests. Francis denied the charge.
‘The best evidence that I know of that this was all a lie and a series of salacious attacks was that Amnesty International who investigated that said that was all untrue,’ said Jim Nicholson, former U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See [under George W. Bush]. ‘These were unfair accusations of this fine priest.’
But Amnesty International said it did not investigate any individual for their specific involvement. ‘Our research focused on the plight of the disappeared,’ said Susanna Flood, media director for Amnesty International.”

“The current Jesuit superior general Adolfo Nicolas and the new pope met on March 17 and embraced each other in a gesture of brotherhood and reconciliation….In the aftermath of the meeting, Nicolas wrote the whole Society of Jesus warning against ‘distractions from the past’ which could ‘lead us to interpret reality with values that are not inspired by the gospel.’”
“Father Adolfo Nicolas announced that he plans to submit his resignation during the Order’s 36th General Congregation Meeting. If approved, the congregation will then elect its new leader. The General Congregation will take place in 2016….Being elected as Superior General is a post that can have a life term, but there’s also the option to resign.”

Commonweal, March 17: Charles Kenney, Professor of Political Science University of Oklahoma specializing in Latin America:
“….After much discussion and debate, Bergoglio gave [Yorio and Jalics] a letter ordering them to leave the community they were serving within 15 days; Jalics was to be transferred to Germany. Bergoglio told them that their only alternative to leaving the community was to leave the Jesuits. Yorio indicated in writing on March 19 that this was his intention, but also said he never received a response. Until his arrest he thought he was still a Jesuit and still communicated intensely with Bergoglio. Only after his release and exile in Rome did he find out that Bergoglio had expelled them from the Jesuit Order shortly before their arrest.
…. On May 14 five catechists (and two of their husbands) who worked with Yorio and Jalics were arrested and eventually murdered by the regime without it ever acknowledging that it held them. One of these catechists was Monica Mignone, the daughter of former Education Minister and Catholic activist Emilio Mignone. If Bergoglio withdrew his protection, he did so knowing what risks the priests were facing. After their arrest, Yorio and Jalics were interrogated extensively about the catechists. Neither the priests nor any of the seven arrested the week before the priests were ever found to be involved with the guerrillas. None of the seven was ever seen again. Bergoglio is accused of blocking the efforts of a sympathetic bishop to receive Yorio and Jalics. The bishop reportedly told others that he was fearful for their lives and sought to protect them, but that even after personally meeting with Bergoglio to plead his case Bergoglio did not cede.
….Yorio and Jalics told others in person and in letters that they thought Bergoglio was responsible for their arrest and that he had told others that Yorio and Jalics were involved with the guerrillas. Other Jesuits told Yorio and Jalics that Bergoglio was responsible. The priests’ beliefs are not evidence that Bergolio facilitated their arrest, but this does show that they thought the accusation highly credible.
….Bergoglio is accused of having presented to the regime a written petition to renew the passport for Fr. Jalics on December 4, 1979, while Jalics was in Germany and for fear of his life could not return to Argentina. The written petition supports Jalics’ request and carries Bergoglio’s signature. Another document was found attached to the first. It states that Jalics’ passport should not be renewed, and carries the signature of a government official. There is a third document attached that states the following:
Father Francisco Jalics:
Dissolute activity in the women’s religious congregations (Conflicts of obedience)
Detained in the Naval Mechanical School 5/24/76 [- ] XI/76 (6 months), accused with Fr. Yorio
Suspected of guerrilla contacts
They lived in a small community that the Jesuit Superior dissolved in February 1976 and they refused to obey, requesting that they be allowed to leave the Jesuits on March 19; the 2 were expelled, [but] Fr. Jalics not because he had solemn vows.
NB: this information was furnished to Mr. Orgoyen (the government official handling the passport renewal request) by Fr. Bergoglio himself, the signer of the original petition, with special recommendation that the petition not be granted. Below this is the signature of Orgoyen.
In other words, Bergoglio is accused of having acting visibly and in writing to support Fr. Jalics’ petition, and of having acted invisibly and not in writing to undermine his request. He is accused of making numerous charges against Jalics, including that he was in contact with the guerrillas….
Emilio Mignone, whose daughter Monica was arrested a week before Yorio and Jalics, became a leader in the human rights movement in Argentina. He held that Bergoglio had responsibility in her disappearance. His colleague in the human rights movement, Alicia Oliveira, was Bergoglio’s friend and knew of his efforts to help some of those persecuted by the regime, and defended him. Neither knew at the time of the “passport document” discovered only recently, which seems to show Bergoglio acting in defense of Fr. Jalics publicly while undermining and accusing him in secret….
The concern about Bergoglio’s role cannot be understood while focusing only on two Jesuit priests who survived. It must be understood that Monica Mignone and hundreds of lay church activists like her were brutally tortured and murdered, being guilty of nothing more than serving the poor and thinking the wrong thoughts; that dozens of priests and religious were likewise murdered in Argentina for the same crimes, and that the murderers were praised and blessed for their work by still other priests and religious. These were the same crimes for which Jesuit Rutilio Grande would be murdered the following year in El Salvador, for which Archbishop Oscar Romero would be assassinated three years after that, and six more Jesuits, their housekeeper, and her daughter nine years after that. And so on. Bergoglio has said in the past that we should not focus on his public silence, but know that in private he sought to aid the persecuted. He does appear to have helped some of the persecuted, but if the documents uncovered regarding his assistance in getting Fr. Jalics’ passport renewed are an indication of what he did in private, it appears that there may be still another, even more private level at which he acted, and for which he has much to answer.

National Catholic Reporter, March 17:
“….The Jesuit historian Fr. Jeff Klaiber interviewed Jesuit Fr. Juan Luis Moyano, who had also been imprisoned and deported by the military. Moyano told Klaiber that Bergoglio did go to bat for imprisoned Jesuits. There are disagreements over whether he did as much as he should have for them, but such debates always occur in these circumstances.
Adolfo Esquivel…says Bergoglio was not involved with the military and did try to help the two Jesuits. He himself was imprisoned by the military and his son is married to Mercedes Moyano, the sister of Juan Luis Moyano.
Yorio and Jalics were arrested when a former lay colleague, who had joined the rebels and then been arrested, gave up their names under torture as people he had worked with in the past. This was normal practice for the military. The junta did not get information from Bergoglio. Contrary to rumor, he did not throw them out of the Society and therefore remove them from the protection of the Society of Jesus. They were Jesuits when they were arrested. Yorio later left the society, but Jalics is still a Jesuit today, living in a Jesuit retreat house in Germany.”

Note: No citation is given for Moyano’s statement. Recall that Verbitsky quoted Moyano: “Not only the cases of Yorio, Jalics and Mónica Mignone [but also in the case of two other priests] he let the military know that he was no longer protecting them and with that wink they kidnapped them.” No citation is given that Perez Esquivel is now claiming knowledge about the release of the Yorio and Jalics. Not a “rumor” – Mignone, Yorio and Jalics stated Bergoglio removed their protection.

New York Times, March 18:
“….’The combination of action [in favor of the junta] and inaction [in opposing the dictators] by the church was instrumental in enabling the mass atrocities committed by the junta,’ said Federico Finchelstein, an Argentine historian at the New School for Social Research in New York.
‘Those like Pope Francis who remained in silence during the repression also played by default a central role,’ he said. ‘It was this combination of endorsement and either strategic or willful indifference that created the proper conditions for the state killings.’”

Francisco Jalics issued a second statement posted on the Jesuit website, March 20:

Since my statement of 15 March this year I received a lot of inquiries, so I would like to add the following. I feel almost obliged to do so, because some comments mean the opposite of what I meant.
Now these are the facts: Orlando Yorio and I were not denounced by Father Bergoglio.
As I made clear in my earlier statement, we had been arrested because a catechist, who first worked with us and later joined the guerrilla (due to a translation error she was referred to in the previous declaration as a man). Three-quarter years we have not seen them. Two or three days after their arrest, we were then arrested. The officer who interrogated me, asked for my documents. When he saw that I was born in Budapest, he took me for a Russian spy.
In the Argentine Jesuit province and in church circles the wrong information was disseminated in those years that we are drawn into the slums because we belonged to the guerrillas. But that was not the case. My guess is that these rumors are the reason why we were not immediately released.
Before, I was inclined to believe that we are victims of a denouncement. But in the late 90s I realized after numerous discussions that this assumption was unfounded.
It is therefore wrong to assert that our capture was done on the initiative of Father Bergoglio.

Note: Jalics did not address the issue of whether Bergoglio participated in the rumors or criticism against them. Nor did he deny their capture was facilitated by Bergoglio’s giving the impression they were “fair game.”

International El Pais, March 22:
“….Former judge Baltasar Garzon, advisor to the Human Rights Commission of the Chamber of Deputies of Argentina, said that if Pope Francis wants to cooperate with the victims of the Dirty War, he can open the Vatican archives on Argentina during that period such as the nuncio’s reports to the Vatican and the letters sent to Pope John Paul II by the Mothers and Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo. ‘It would be a way to cooperate with the victims,’ ​​proposed Garzon.’”

Minutouno.com, March 22:
Uruguayan Gonzalo Mosca claimed that he had been a member of a leftist movement. He fled to Buenos Aires in 1977 fearing capture by the Uruguayan dictatorship. His brother, a Jesuit, knew Bergoglio and he was invited to seek shelter in the Jesuit school in San Miguel where he was introduced as someone doing a retreat.
After several days, Bergoglio came up with the plan that he should fly to Iguazu on the border of Brazil and Paraguay and escape into Brazil.
“When he was elected pope, many of the accusations made about him were like he had not been brave enough to confront the dictatorship,” said Mosca. “What I can say is that in my case (Bergoglio) was not only personally brave….He was committed institutionally as well,” he added.
By giving his testimony, Mosca, 63, seeks to “give back what he did for me…Counterbalance all that is being said….His attitude was committed, was brave, and in my case was effective,” he said. “He was such a humble figure, so discreet…” he confessed. He was “a very cool guy…” he recalled.

The Real News, March 21: Interview with Fr. Eduardo de la Serna, Pastor, Jesus the Good Shepherd Parish, Quilmes, Argentina. The theologian, author and coordinator of Priests for an Option for the Poor, said he personally knew both Yorio and Bergoglio back in those days and had worked with Yorio in Quilmes:
“Orlando Yorio died claiming that Jorge Mario Bergoglio not only had left them unprotected, but he directly signaled them to be taken. However, it has not been proved that Bergoglio sent the military to take Orlando Yorio as the priest died claiming. This fact was not uncommon, as it has been proved that schools, university, public and private corporations, they gave list of people deemed to be leftist and undesirable to the military….
“Graciela Yorio’s version is exactly what Orlando told us from day one, it is not an exaggeration – those are Orlando’s exact words. Orlando was naive to believe that the church was changing for good (after the return to democracy). I personally believe that not only was he devastated when Bergoglio was pronounced Buenos Aires’ bishop, but he completely fell apart. He sank. He left the country. He went to Uruguay, where after three years he died of a heart attack. His heart couldn’t take it any longer.
“I understand anyone that tells me: I was frightened, I got scared, I didn’t know, I was afraid to act. I understand that as long as they are telling me that straightforward. If they tell me, I understand I should have done otherwise but I was scared, I can understand that. The problem is when you stood silent and then it looks like you acted appropriately.”

Graciela Yorio testified on April 18, 2013, as one of more than 800 witnesses in a two-year trial of 67 defendants accused of human rights violations against 789 people who were detained at the junta’s feared ESMA.
She testified that even before the March 1976 coup, her brother and Jalics were turned away by Bergoglio after being accused of being “subversive and extremists” for their work with the poor. She said they pleaded with Bergoglio to do something to stop “the rumors, because with these rumors their life was in danger.”
But Bergoglio told them he was under too much pressure from church officials, and urged them to find a bishop who might help. None would, she said….
Graciela Yorio said she and her mother went to Bergoglio seeking help.
“We had three interviews, and he never told us anything. Yes, I do remember that he told us, `I made good reports.’ He also told me to `be very careful, because a sister of another person who didn’t have anything to do with this was detained,’” she testified.
Graciela Yorio said both men felt abandoned by Bergoglio, and by the church hierarchy as a whole.
“My borther was abandoned, expelled, without a bishop, without the support of the Company of Jesus to protect him, and that’s why he was kidnapped. He was practically abandoned by the church,” she said.

The following is probably the last critical reporting of Pope Francis in the commercial media for the next year. 
McClatchy, July 22:
“Four months after Bergoglio became the first pope from the New World, questions largely have faded from the news about what role he played during Argentina’s brutal Dirty War…..
But in his native Argentina, not all are impressed with the stories of his rejecting the stately Vatican quarters the pope traditionally has occupied, or the plush papal finery and luxury cars.
‘He is a good actor,’ said Estela de la Cuadra, who’s 77. The image the Vatican is constructing ‘makes me indignant,’ she said over the weekend….
The church ‘knew what was happening,’ said Robert Cox, a former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald….‘At least they could have insisted on a return to the rule of law, but they did not,’ he said. ‘It would have had an effect.’
The faith that the church has information that would help people find missing children such as Elena de la Cuadra’s is testament to the role of the Catholic Church in Argentina. Priests were close to the generals and often made lists of dissidents who became targets, and shared what they knew about them. Victims and their families also were religious. So when their family members went missing, their local churches were often the first places they turned for help.
Pope Francis has never been charged with complicity in the Dirty War and he’s testified that his intervention saved the lives of several people whom the military otherwise might have killed.
That claim, however, hasn’t persuaded Rodolfo Yorio…. ‘Pope Francis is a marketing phenomenon,’ Rodolfo Yorio said….
Rodolfo Yorio, whose brother refused offers to re-enter the Jesuit order and has since died, said he was unwilling to forgive.
‘Bergoglio wanted to be on good terms with the dictatorship,’ he said. ‘I think that Bergoglio was involved.’
Another friend of Orlando Yorio’s, Washington Uranga, an Argentine journalist, said the priest ‘never told me that he felt delivered or betrayed by Bergoglio.’ But the priest did say ‘he thought he never received sufficient protection or support’ before the military bundled him into a car.
Many human rights advocates think Bergoglio came up short primarily in providing information – and that the situation hasn’t improved since he became pope. In the 2010 testimony, Bergoglio pledged to search for and provide documents to support his answers. But a lawyer who’s involved in the case said neither the pope nor the church had provided any of the documents. The lawyer asked that his name be withheld because of the sensitivity of the subject.
‘The Vatican could come out with an enormous amount of information,’ said Cox, who was forced to leave the country because of his reporting. ‘I wish it would. It would be a wonderful thing for the church, much more important than the sympathetic things the pope is doing.’
Until then, the questions will linger, though many Argentines have shown a willingness to let them slide.
‘There is a nationalistic and patriotic reaction that has surged,’ said Uranga, the journalist, whose reporting specialty is religion. ‘It is a curious thing.’”

On August 5, 2013, Mercedes Mignone testified in court on the matter of ESMA about the capture of her sister, Monica. Mignone testified that her father contacted the archbishop of Buenos Aires [elevated to cardinal  on May 24, 1976] Juan Carlos Aramburu, Fr. Jorge Bergoglio and papal nuncio Archbishop Pio Laghi; “the latter was the only one who showed an interest.”

Biographer Paul Vallely (Pope Francis: Untying the Knots (August 2013)), wrote that “Bergoglio ordered [Yorio and Jalics] to leave the shanty town and, when they refused, expelled them from the Jesuits.”

Jalics and the pope met in private at the Vatican on October 5, 2013, with no statements made afterwards.

Pagina 12, October 6: By Verbitsky
“According to the newspaper of the Italian Episcopal Conference, Avvenire: ‘Jorge Mario Bergoglio,,,acted in a reserved manner to save [Yorio and Jalics] but the torturers of the military dictator, Videla, led the two religious to believe that the current pontiff first denounced them and then abandoned them to their fate. And it took time for Jalics to publicly recognize the good faith of his superior at the time,’ says the brief chronicle of the episcopal newspaper that conspicuously omitted the date and circumstances of the encounter.
Instead, the newspaper of the Italian bishops adds that the true history of the present pope is told in the book. Bergoglio’s List. written by the journalist of the same newspaper, Nello Scavo, which was published by the Missionaria Italian publishing house, which also belongs to that episcopal conference. The book asserts that during those years Bergoglio built a clandestine network to protect those persecuted by the dictatorship and help them escape. Some Argentine media supplemented the press release of the book with the statement that this will end the ‘slander’ which they attribute to me and others close to the president’s circles.”
Verbitsky reminds the reader that fifteen years ago he not only published the allegations against Bergoglio made by Yorio and Jalics but also Bergoglio’s disclaimer. “The two of them, not I, identified his as responsible for their condition. Yorio made this serious charge in a note sent to Rome to the Jesuit general superior once he recovered his freedom; Jalics in a book of spiritual exercises and both in separate interviews with me in 1999. This was ratified by a third priest of the group, Luis Dourron, in a book published this year….
“But after the election as pope, Bergoglio also produced some striking conversions, such as the Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Pérez Esquivel. In 1987, he wrote the preface in the English edition of Church and Dictatorship, the classic book of another great figure of Argentine human rights movement, Emilio Mignone….
“Mignone wrote that the Navy interpreted the withdrawal of Yorio and Jalics’ licenses and ‘manifestations of criticism by their provincial Jesuit Jorge Bergoglio as an authorization to proceed.’ Therefore, Mignone considered Bergoglio as one of the ‘shepherds who gave their sheep to the enemy without defending or rescuing them.’ Pérez Esquivel wrote in his foreword: ‘There will be those who try to discredit this book, claiming that it is only an attack on the church. Nothing could be more erroneous or unreasonable. The text is dispassionate and impartial.’ He had good reason to know since his son Leonardo was brother-in-law of the former Jesuit vice-provincial, Juan Luis Moyano Walker, who was one of the privileged sources of my research on Bergoglio. So sure was Pérez Esquivel on the misconduct of Bergoglio that on April 15, 2005, when the cardinals gathered to elect a successor to John Paul II, he said in a television program that the archbishop of Buenos Aires should not be pope because he was an ambiguous man who believed that working with the poor was a matter for ‘communist subversives, terrorists.’ With irony, Pérez Esquivel expressed his wish that the Holy Spirit be wide awake and not make a mistake in the conclave. The book he prefaced, Church and Dictatorship, has not been reissued but now he has written the preface to Bergoglio’s List. According to Pérez Esquivel, I made a mistake but he did not explain what it was. The only thing I recognize is not to have altered the findings of my research at the rhythm of events and conveniences.
“After the election of Pope Francis, Jalics said from the retreat house in Bavaria that he was reconciled with the events…but he did not absolve Bergoglio, as I commented at the time. In answer to this analysis, the Jesuit produced the second declaration expressed by the German province under what an Argentine priest called ‘due obedience.’ Jalics said that he felt ‘obligated’ to clarify his statement that he had believed in Bergoglio’s participation until he understood that his superior had not delivered him. This time Jalics pointed to a catechist who had joined the guerrilla movement, whose forced disappearance preceded that of the two priests.
“Indeed, the history of the catechist is well developed in my books, and Jalics knew her very well, as evidenced by his statement before the Justice Argentina in 1985, which tells the story of the detained-missing girl…..
“At that time the chronological sequence in which the disappearance of the woman preceded his did not seem to diminish Bergoglio’s responsibility in Jalics’ view, who in 1994 claimed to have abundant testimonial and documentary evidence which he ratified in the interview with me in 1999. In his 2013 retraction, Jalics did not explain how, when, why or in what way this fact of so little novelty would modify his categorical accusations against his former provincial unless it is a question of some incommunicable form of revelation.”

To recap, Mignone’s charge against Bergoglio is that the Navy interpreted the withdrawal of their licenses (by some accounts their expulsion from the Jesuits) and the criticism (by some accounts rumors) by Bergoglio as an authorization to proceed.
Mignone’s and Jalic’s books preceded Verbitsky’s article and book, as did Yorio’s letter. Although Jalics refers obliquely to “the man,” his siblings are adamant that he was referring to Bergoglio. None give credit to Bergoglio for their release.
Jalics never refuted the above account.
Verbitsky reported what Yorio, Jalics and Moyano told him. Independently, both priests’ siblings and friends confirm that Yorio and Jalics told them the same.
Also, one of the workers kidnapped along with Yorio and Jalics and released, María Elena Funes, testified in court on September 23, 2010, that Bergoglio removed their religious licenses while they were working in Bajo Flores as well as his protection.
Attorneys Luis Zamora and Myriam Bregman, who also took part in the ESMA trials, found Bergoglio to be “evasive” or “reticent”.
Secular academics Sam Ferguson, Charles Kenney and Nancy Scheper-Hughes think the Mignone/Yorio/Jalics account to be fundamentally true as does Bergoglio’s biographer, Paul Vallely.
The only person with any direct knowledge of the persons involved who disagrees is Alicia Oliveira and she is also the only person who agrees with Bergoglio that it was his efforts which resulted in the priests being released.
Recall also that Bergoglio told Ambrogetti and Ruben that he had saved “a few” people who were in danger during the dictatorship.
The following article, as well as all Catholic reporters whom I have read except the scholars named above, also disregard Verbitsky’s 21 books and countless articles which don’t mention Bergoglio and his seven awards for his “front-line role in strengthening democracy and safeguarding press freedoms in Argentina and Latin America.”

The Spin Begins

National Catholic Reporter, October 7, 2013:
Perhaps the single public figure on the planet right now least in need of rehabilitation of his image is Pope Francis, who’s got poll numbers in most places of which politicians and celebrities alike can only dream.
Nevertheless, rehabilitation is precisely what Italian journalist Nello Scavo delivers in his new book Bergoglio’s List: The Untold Story of the People Saved by Francis during the Dictatorship, which was presented today at the headquarters of the Jesuit journal Civiltà Cattolica in Rome.
In reply to persistent charges that the young Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio was complicit in Argentina’s infamous Dirty War…Scavo asserts that Bergoglio was actually a Jesuit version of Oskar Schindler – quietly saving lives rather than engaging in noisy public protest.
The future pope, Scavo writes, saved as many as a thousand targets of the military dictatorship by providing shelter in a Jesuit college, passing them off as seminarians or laity on retreat, then helping them move out of Argentina.
In one case, according to Scavo, Bergoglio gave a man who bore him a passing resemblance his own passport and priest’s clothing to make his escape.
In other cases, Scavo says, people were saved “indirectly” by Bergoglio, because the targets he helped stay out of prison would have named others who would also likely have been arrested and tortured.
Scavo provides names and details for roughly a dozen people rescued by Bergoglio and claims that each one of those people told him they knew “at least 20 or 30 more.” Taken together with the indirect effects of his actions, Scavo says, Bergoglio was arguably responsible for saving more than the 1,200 lives attributed to Schindler’s intervention during World War II.
One such survivor is today a mayor in Uruguay named Gonzalo Mosca, who was accompanied by Bergoglio onto the airplane that carried him to safety while being hunted by the police. Another is an Argentine lawyer and human rights activist named Alicia Oliveira, whose three small children were lodged in a Jesuit college by Bergoglio while she remained in hiding. Twice a week, she said, Bergoglio would take her to see her children, despite the fact that a warrant was out for her arrest.
“Nobody needs to explain to me who Jorge Bergoglio is,” she told Scavo. “He helped many persecuted people escape, putting his own life at risk.”
The rescued also include Alfredo Somoza, an atheist novelist who today lives in Milan, and Ana and Sergio Gobulin, a married couple now living in the Italian province of Pordenone. The pope has remained friends with the Gobulins, according to Scavo, speaking from time to time on the telephone.
Scavo claims the story of Bergoglio’s pipeline has been previously untold because Bergoglio himself has never called attention to it, and in fact the pope didn’t cooperate with the book project.
There are already plans for translations of the book in at least eight languages, including English, and there’s also been at least two proposals for a movie a-la “Schindler’s List.”
Nevertheless, there are signs that the book may not resolve all the debates over Bergoglio’s role in the Dirty War.
The book itself carries a preface by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, the Argentinian Noble Peace Prize Winner, which lauds Bergoglio’s aid to victims but also questions his public silence during that period.
“He did not participate in the struggle in defense of human rights against the military dictatorship,” Esquivel writes.
On Sunday, leftist Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky published a new piece questioning the reconciliation between the pope and a Jesuit named Franz Jalics, one of two Jesuits arrested and tortured in 1976. Verbitsky, a former leftist guerilla, is close to the government of Christina Kirchner in Argentina, and has long been one of the most acerbic critics of Bergoglio’s history during the dictatorship.
Jalics and the other Jesuit, Orlando Yorio, who has since died, originally suggested that Bergoglio had turned them in. Yet Jalics, a native on Hungary who today lives in a German monastery, withdrew that charge in a March 20, 2013, statement: “The fact is, Orlando Yorio and I were not denounced by Father Bergoglio.”
Francis and Jalics met in person in Rome this past Saturday, Oct. 5, with Jalics assisting the pope in celebrating Mass.
In his Oct. 6 piece for the Argentine newspaper Página/12, Verbitsky asked rhetorically what “private revelation” had caused Jalics to withdraw his accusation. He insisted that Bergoglio must have known about such crackdowns on clergy, because it was common practice for the military to inform their bishops or religious superiors beforehand.
Scavo defends Bergoglio’s choice not to engage in overt opposition by comparison to the role of Pope Pius XII during World War II – the price of being able to save lives behind the scenes, Scavo contends, was being careful in public.
“What use would a human rights champion be in jail, or even dead?” Scavo said.
“At the time Bergoglio wasn’t known, so a public denunciation by him wouldn’t have had any effect on the leaders of the coup,” he said. “Let’s also not forget that the regime assassinated roughly thirty bishops, priests and sisters, as well a hundred catechists believed to be communists.”….
Bergoglio’s List is published in Italian by EMI, a missionary publishing house. An official from the publisher told NCR today it will be issued in English translation by Tan Books, though with a release date next year.”

The book is available on Amazon: “For the first time in English, experience the untold story of Bergoglio’s courage and heroism.”

A film titled Shades of Truth was subsequently presented in the Vatican which “aims to prove that Pope Pius XII (1939-1958) was unfairly branded ‘Hitler’s Pope’ when he was in fact the ‘Vatican’s Schindler.’”

So the reputations of both Pope Pius XII and Pope Francis are being linked and altered at the same time.

“In an extensive interview published in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot, Pope Francis had expressed worries that the current debate about Pius XII was not fair. ‘One thing worries me, and I’ll be honest with you – the image of Pope Pius XII. [He] has been accused of all sorts of things (including having been aware of the extermination of the Jews and doing nothing). I’m not saying he didn’t make mistakes. He made a few. I get things wrong often too. But…he was considered a big defender of the Jews.
‘During the Holocaust, Pius gave refuge to many Jews in monasteries in Italy. In the pope’s bed at Castel Gandolfo, 42 small children were born to couples who found refuge there from the Nazis. These are things that people don’t know. When Pius XII died, Golda Meir sent a letter that read: ‘We share in the pain of humanity. When the Holocaust befell our people, the pope spoke out for the victims.’”

In another interview, Pope Francis repeated that Pius XII was a “defender of the Jews.” He asked, “Was it better for him not to speak so that more Jews would not be killed or for him to speak.”

Historian Susan Zucotti who specializes in studies of the holocaust wrote:

Little evidence supports the notion that Pius XII delivered a directive to members of the Catholic Church to help Jews during the German occupation of Italy. That many such men and women did open their doors is well known, and several thousand Jews in Italy were saved as a result. The pope and his advisers knew that many Jews, along with many more non-Jewish fugitives from the Nazis and Fascists, were hiding in religious institutions outside Vatican City, and being sheltered individually in prelates’ residences in Vatican City itself. However, they seem not to have been aware of the full extent of the rescue effort, nor to have ordered it initially.

A recently-released book, Gerald Posner’s God’s Bankers, notes that “when war came, the Vatican Bank did even better by helping the Nazis and Fascists rob and murder Jews and other non-Catholics. [Posner’s] chapters 7 and 8 are the best short summation I know for the actions and inactions of Pope Pius XII and most of the Curia in furthering the Holocaust. (The professional Roman Catholic defenders will squeal at this review – and are already squealing at Posner – but there is no longer any real controversy about the church’s pro-Nazi role.)”

Holocaust survivors and their heirs have just petitioned Pope Francis to audit accounts at the Vatican Bank believed to have held funds looted during the Second World War by Nazi allied governments.  

Buenos Aires Herald, November 10, 2013: An interview with Adolfo Pérez Esquivel
“Before Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Pope Francis you made comments calling his role in the last dictatorship “ambiguous” but later you supported him and said he wasn’t complicit with the crimes of that era. What led to the change?
I never changed. Verbitsky accuses the pope of being complicit with the dictatorship. I said that he wasn’t complicit but also that he wasn’t a bishop who actively spoke up against the dictatorship. Others were complicit. Bergoglio was a Jesuit leader, and very young – he didn’t have access to the government. I learned that he would go to impoverished neighborhoods to work with the people. This is what we need to value.
But you also wrote a preface to a 1988 book (Church and Dictatorship by Emilio Mignone) that calls into question Bergoglio’s complicity with the military.
Look, I said that he wasn’t complicit with the dictatorship. I don’t know exactly what Bergoglio did with Yorio and Jalics. This issue isn’t closed, nothing is closed. When I said Bergoglio wasn’t complicit, I did it for many reasons. One is because I saw that he went to slums and other people praised him and so I thought this guy can’t be bad. Another reason was that the church named a Latin American pope for the first time, getting out of its usual Eurocentrism. If there are doubts, people should continue investigating.
What is the difference between Verbitsky’s and Mignone’s interpretation?
Look, Bergoglio could have done more, but others in the church could have done more as well. Many of us thought different things about this. We can have differences of opinion.
Some may find it difficult to understand how someone who kept quiet while thousands of Catholics were being killed in Argentina can be named pope? Don’t you think that’s a contradiction?
It was not necessarily like that. Nobody has the absolute truth. We are in a difficult moment. Now, we have this pope and if he made a mistake then he should make amends to the best of his ability.
Bergoglio was also part of a church structure that was complicit with dictatorship. If they freed Yorio and Jalics after six months, then he must have done something.
Yet nothing was said about that until now, after he was named pope. It took 37 years for that to come to light.
Look there are many things that we know now. I did what I did, not only because of who Bergoglio is, a pastor of the church, but also because he is fulfilling a mission. Up until now, he has changed a lot of things and is trying to reform the church. If this man committed errors then it should be proven. But we should also try to protect the head of the church, if not we will destroy everything.

Estela de Carlotto

Miami Herald, March 15:
“Estela de Carlotto, the 82-year-old head of the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, who for years has led the search for babies stolen from pregnant mothers in detention sites, said Friday that Bergoglio ‘knew what was happening but didn’t do anything.’
‘We don’t think he’s a criminal,’ Carlotto said, ‘but he’s complicit by omission.’
Carlotto told a news conference that the pope has shown himself unwilling to explore what took place during the Dirty War, even after restored civilian governments began to try military leaders.
‘As an institution, we have a complaint, and it’s that he never, even when he was the most powerful man in the church, talked about the disappeared,’ Carlotto said. ‘He never called us to see what we needed.’”

Buenos Aires Herald, March 15:
“….Carlotto explained that two priests have judicially denounced Bergoglio which she considered a fact and not an ‘anecdote’ that casts a ‘shadow’ over the pope´s figure, although she pointed out that he has not been indicted.
‘The repentant must be given a chance, but we must first wait for him to repent,’ she added and gave the newly elected pontiff a ‘vote of confidence in this new mission he has begun with great humility.’
Still, she denied Bergoglio’s rapprochement to human rights organisms. ‘He has helped with other excruciating issues but not with ours,’ Carlotto affirmed considering that Bergoglio ‘belongs to the church that darkened the history of the country.’”

A General Audience is held in St. Peter’s Square every Wednesday, the pope’s itinerary and weather permitting. He gets driven around in his popemobile, smiles and waves to the thousands assembled there and gives a brief speech. By prearrangement, a few get to wait behind a barrier in a designated area for the pope to come over, shake some hands, kiss a couple of babies and exchange a few worlds.
Estela de Carlotto was in this area on April 24, 2013, and used the occasion to say a few words and hand the pope a letter. In the letter, she asked the pope to take “the necessary measures to help us in the search of almost 400 grandchildren who today still have not recovered their true identity.” She asked that the Vatican open its archives and the Argentine church open its records so they may be searched for any evidence of what became of the children.
“We pray your Holiness that you explain to members of the church and their followers that it is a Christian duty to offer information about the location of disappeared children in Argentina,” the letter stated. It also asked the pope to “warn them that it is a sin to hide crimes categorized by the international community as crimes against humanity like kidnappings, assassinations and baby thefts perpetrated by state terrorism.”
Carlotto said the pope responded: “You can count on me. You can count on us.” <a

Buenos Aires Herald, August 6, 2014: “Monsignor Guillermo Karcher – a close assistant of the pontiff who usually discusses with him news about Argentina – confirmed today the Argentine pope was ‘thrilled’ about the finding of Estela de Carlotto’s grandson.”

Aleteia.org, August 7, 2014
After 36 years, the identity of Estela de Carlotto’s grandson was revealed. Her daughter Laura’s son was born when his mother was imprisoned in the “La Cacha” clandestine center. Five hours after birth, the child was torn from Laura’s arms and then delivered to a couple that could not have children. This couple then adopted him.
“In statements published by the Italian episcopate’s newspaper, Avvenire, the pontiff explained that the news stirred up deep emotion in him ‘as in all of us Argentines: it affects a part of our history and Mrs. Carlotto’s reunion with her grandson is a ray of light.'”

ElMundo, November 5, 2014:
“Bergoglio sent a handwritten letter to Estela de Carlotto… in which he said: ‘By means of these lines, I would like to be close to you in these days in which you have been reunited with your grandson. That is a joy for the grandmother who has travelled a long road of suffering.’ he added in the letter, dated August 7.
“Francis recognized the work that, during these years, has been done by Carlotto to find the babies taken during the last dictatorship and praised that the suffering ‘had not paralyzed you but rather upheld the struggle. Thank you, Madam, for his fight. I am glad of heart and ask the Lord to repay you for so much tenacity and work,’ the pope ended.”

UnoMasUno, August 23, 2014
Carlotto announced that Elena de la Cuardra’s baby, Ana Libertad, had been located in Holland. “Ana Libertad is granddaughter Ana Alicia de la Cuadra, one of the founders of Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who, before dying in 2008, reported that Bergoglio had withheld information on the whereabouts of her son to help the repressors go unpunished.
“After the initial happiness at the news, Estela de la Cuadra, Ana Libertad’s aunt, renewed criticism that the hierarchy of the Catholic Church “knew everything” the oppressors were doing.
“They had oiled the contacts, knew the internal organizational chart and whom to contact…had organized this containment of the relatives, (but) in spite of Bergoglio, Ann Libertad is here,” she affirmed.
De la Cuadra recalled that Bergoglio never wanted to acknowledge that there were lists of missing persons, even though after he was elected pope the names of victims of the dictatorship appeared of those he supposedly saved.
“Then came Bergoglio’s List and it turns out that he was aware of everything and saved half of Argentina, a pity that he didn’t save the other half – an immorality,” she said, knowing that the pope will not return to face justice.

The discovery of the de la Cuadra baby didn’t seem to stir similar “deep emotions” in the pope or any other response.

ANSA, November 3, 2014
A private meeting was arranged between Bergoglio and Carlotto for November 5, 2014. “We are proud of the Argentine pope,” Carlotto said ahead of her audience with the pope. “We will all be there, a total of 18 Carlottos,” she said.

The day after the meeting, Carlotto held a press conference:

LaRepublica, November 6, 2014
“The meeting was held yesterday in an atmosphere marked by ‘a great warmth and sincerity.’
“The criticism Carlotto directed to the pope after his election was indirectly referred to and the pope considers the subject to be ‘a past topic.’ ‘When we got the news we were gathered in the house of the Grandmothers and we all said ‘Oh!’ because we do not feel much joy. The joy that is an Argentine pope was very well received. But we had never heard Bergoglio talk of the missing,’ she recalled.
“Her criticism in which she asked for a ‘mea culpa’ from the pope was held because ‘malicious versions’ had circulated in Argentina, she explained. She…claimed that ‘if anyone is still speaking ill of the pope, they are lying,’ referring to those versions of the role of Bergoglio during the dictatorship. ‘Among Christians we forgive.’
“She said her visit was not due to ‘institutional reasons,’ but as a ‘grandmother who has regained his grandson.’ For this reason, she did not ask the pope to open the Vatican archives to try to clarify some questions of the last military dictatorship although that is what she had asked for previously.
“She is satisfied that her organization ‘currently has a very good relationship’ with the Argentine church. She highlighted the role of the president of the Episcopal Conference Argentina, José María Arancedo, who recorded a television commercial with the Grandmothers to ask others to help identify the 385 people stolen as babies but yet unidentified.
As to opening the Vatican archive, Carlotto said ‘that road is not closed’ but must be taken ‘little by little.’
Argentina’s ambassador to the Holy See, Juan Pablo Cafiero said that a judicial request from Argentina could access the archive of the Vatican….”

Carlotto and Cafiero seem unaware that these archives will never be made available until the distant future, if ever. Every cardinal “promises and swears….not to make known to anyone matters entrusted to me in confidence, the disclosure of which could bring damage or dishonor to Holy Church.”

Secrecy and cover-up was very much a part of the Catholic institutional culture and was, in fact, a policy,” the leading expert clerical sex abuse, Fr. Thomas Doyle O.P., noted.

“It is well known that Bishop James Quinn addressed all the American bishops (c 1991) with instructions on procedures to secrete documents in the office of the Apostolic Nunciature in Washington DC, where they would be protected by diplomatic immunity,” noted another expert, A. W. Richard Sipe.

Per investigative journalist Robert Parry, the “Vatican has refused to open its archives for any serious research into its relationship with the CIA and other Western intelligence services.”

Pope Francis said there was “an agreement between the Vatican and Italy from 1929 that prevents us from opening the archives to researchers at this point in time. But because of the time that has passed since World War II, I see no problem with opening the archives the moment we sort out the legal and bureaucratic matters.”

Not true. The Lateran Treaty made no mention of this. But thanks to the years of research by historians John F. Pollard and Michael Phayer into the archival records of the Italian, British, Japanese, Argentine and U.S. governments, there is little need for Vatican documents affirming financial and back-channel support for the Axis.

Nevertheless, on January 12, 2015, Pope Francis told the Sri Lankans who suffered through a 30-year civil war, “The process of healing also needs to include the pursuit of truth, not for the sake of opening old wounds but rather as a necessary means of promoting justice, healing and unity.”

Hagiographies

Elisabetta Piqué’s Pope Francis, Life and Revolution, was published by Loyola Press, “a Jesuit ministry,” in 2014.

Pique, “an internationally respected journalist…has remained close to the pope since first meeting him back in 2001. He baptized her two children. [She is married to the Rome correspondent for the Jesuit publication, America.] Over 75 individuals were interviewed including lay people, priests, bishops, and cardinals who have known or worked with Francis at various times in his life…. Piqué clears Bergoglio of the gravest charges of misconduct during the Dirty War [and] agrees that he risked himself in heroic efforts to hide and rescue people targeted by the military. A friend and enthusiastic admirer of Bergoglio from the start…Piqué barely has the time of day for Bergoglio’s accusers”

When The Great Reformer (Henry Holt and Co.) was published, the author, Austin Ivereigh, went to the Vatican to hand a copy to the pope in person, as tweeted by Ivereigh himself on November 21, 2014.

From Wikipedia, the English-born Ivereigh was briefly a Jesuit novice. In 1993, he completed a D.Phil. thesis for the University of Oxfor published as Catholicism and Politics in Argentina, 1810-1960. He has edited scholarly journals and Catholic publications and now writes for several Catholic media. He was press secretary and then director for public affairs for the cardinal archbishop of Westminster, the most important Catholic prelate in the UK.

Ivereigh and Jack Valero, the director of Opus Dei in the UK, created Catholic Voices. Ivereigh said the model for Voices was inspired by the response he coordinated with Valero to the media storm when The Da Vinci Code was released.

Opus Dei has been the leader in educating Catholic communicators since superstar John Paul II’s legendary press secretary, Opus Dei numerary (i.e. unmarried celibate) Joaquín Navarro-Valls, handled PR for the Vatican. The Opus Dei University of the Holy Cross in Rome has a College of Marketing and Communications and has held numerous conferences, seminars and training programs. Another Opus Dei numerary, Greg Burke, formerly with Fox News, is part of Pope Francis’ media team. Ivereigh has lectured and made videos for Opus Dei.

Kathryn Lopez, editor for the conservative National Review, is head of the U.S. Catholic Voices. She lectures at the Opus Dei center in Washington D.C. and is training others for the upcoming visit of Pope Francis to the U.S. in September.

The following quotes are taken from book reviews of The Great Reformer (here, here, here, here and here):
Bergoglio had two objectives during the Dirty War, both of which were set by the superior general in Rome. The first was to protect the Jesuits. The second was to assist the victims of the repression. The two objectives were, obviously, in tension with each other: if it had been known that their provincial was abetting subversives sought by the state, all Jesuits would have been suspect. It was a high-wire act, but Bergoglio pulled it off. Not one Argentine Jesuit lost his life during the dirty war, and he managed to save dozens of people. What he did not do was speak out publicly against the regime, but he could hardly have done so without sacrificing his objectives, for no obvious gain.
[Ivereigh provides no citation that Arrupe set these “objectives,” according to a New York Times review.]
Bergoglio ordered Yorio and Jalics out of Bajo Flores for fear their lives were at risk.
Bergoglio discussed the matter with the two men who said they could not in conscience leave the community….Bergoglio decided not to dismiss the men from the society but to give them time to seek out a bishop who might be happy to take them. If he had dismissed them, no bishop would touch them. It was during this time of seeking other options that the two men were apprehended.
Bergoglio did nothing to facilitate their capture. Rather, he was a diligent, caring provincial trying to move them in the best direction while respecting their freedom.
Evidence shows that the charge that Bergoglio did not do enough to protect Yorio and Jalics is false.
After their capture, Bergoglio moved heaven and earth to secure their release.
As regards the Dirty War, Bergoglio “acquitted himself with dignity.”
Argentine Jesuits thought Bergoglio divisive over a fundamental approach on the austere practices of St. Ignatius.
Liberation theology was attacked by Ratzinger for veering too close to Marxism.
Liberation theology is linked to Marxism which is why John Paul loathed it.
The Verbitsky claims were summarized in anonymous envelopes delivered to Spanish-speaking cardinals in Rome in the days before the [2005] conclave…He quotes an unnamed cardinal saying that the conclave voters knew the charges were false.
Verbitsky’s charges trailed Bergoglio after his election, particularly in a New York Times report that left open the possibility of his collusion.
Verbitsky’s antipathy toward Bergoglio reflects a dogmatic leftist view of the church as so complicit in crimes of the regime as to stain even Bergoglio.
Bergoglio picked up many of the refugees himself, installed them sometimes for weeks or months in the seminary, arranged false identity papers, drove them to the airport, and saw them safely onto planes.
Bergoglio’s years of being muzzled, as he helped friends and colleagues avert the lethal dragnet or grieve for loved ones disappeared, probably explains Francis’s free-wheeling style with the Vatican press corps on airplane rides during his foreign trips.
As provincial, he implemented a bold new program at the seminary…with direct missionary outreach to the poor and manual labor (because the poor are those who have to work). But Bergoglio’s reform was eventually disowned by the older, left-leaning Jesuits, who did not believe it was sufficiently grounded in a scientific analysis of the social situation of the poor, and were offended to discover Jesuit seminarians learning and praying the devotions of the uneducated.
[“Base communities” was one of the foundations of Liberation theology]
The pope comes ready-made as a radical, shaped by the experiences of living as a Jesuit through one of the bloodiest times in Argentina’s history.

Bergoglio’s Pontificate

During his reign, Pope Francis has provided many insights into his views on dictatorships and fascism.

One month after his election, the pope appointed eight cardinals as his personal advisers. Honduran Cardinal Oscar Rodriguez Maradiaga is head of this Council of Cardinal, sometimes referred to as the vice pope.

“Opus Dei participated actively in the coup against constitutional President Manuel Zelaya, said a study….[A]ctive members of this clan are making intromissions in the Honduran national politics, despite Honduras being officially a secular country….Opus Dei is headed by Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez who has not denounced the violation to the  Constitution that the coup was, and has instead blessed it.”

The cardinal was condemned by Adolfo Pérez Esquivel: “Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez: The path you have chosen to be an accomplice of the military dictatorship is not the way of the Gospel. You cannot be against your people and allow violence and repression in the name of supposed safety and law and the committing of serious human rights violations.”

Manuel Zelaya became president in 2006 and responded to grassroots demands with progressive policies like raising the minimum wage by 80 percent and providing direct assistance to the poorest Hondurans; poverty and inequality declined. In 2009, Zelaya was ousted in a violent coup by powerful right-wing elites, with tacit support from the US government.
The post-coup governments reversed Zelaya’s reforms, empowering corporations and reducing labor protections and freedoms. The country’s already-high homicide rate jumped by 50 percent from 2008 to 2011, accompanied by a major increase in political repression; the murder rate in Honduras was the highest in the world in 2013. At least 35 Honduran union activists have been reported murdered since the 2009 coup. Honduran workers and community leaders who met with an October 2014 AFL-CIO fact-finding mission reported increased militarization and widespread corruption among security forces.

The pope also chose Cardinal Francisco Javier Errazuriz Ossa for his select group of advisers. When the former Chilean dictator, Augusto Pinochet, was arrested in London in 1998, Errazuriz said the arrest of Pinochet was a barbarity, British justice was defective  and the British themselves uncivilized. (Hugh O’Shaughnessy, Pinochet: The Politics of Torture) Errazuriz “later criticized human rights lawsuits in Chile against Pinochet and other officials of the former regime, saying, ‘Excessive justice could be detrimental to reconciliation and social peace.’”

In a 2003 interview, Errazuriz praised Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973 – 1990) : “Chilean coup leaders left the economy in the hands of experts…Such changes can only be implemented during a dictatorship.”

The now-retired cardinal archbishop of Santiago made more recent headlines in Chile for protecting Fr. Fernando Karamina, a spiritual leader among Santiago’s most influential families. In April 2010, a civil criminal complaint was filed by four victims against Karadima for sexual abuse, men who were once devoted followers of Karadima. The claims were dismissed by a court ruling that there was not enough evidence to charge him. One of the claimants protested, “We would have liked to appeal, but with defense attorneys like his, who have the Appeals and Supreme Court eating out of their hands, and a number of powerful people who continue to protect Karadima, we knew it would be an uphill battle that we were likely to lose.”

Karadima’s legal defense team has familial and group ties to “Comando Rolando Matus,” a paramilitary organization of the National Party (Chile, 1966–1973). It played a key role in the destabilization of the country during Salvador Allende’s democratically-elected leftist government leading to a coup by the church-supported military dictator, Gen. Augusto Pinochet.

Like Bergoglio, Errázuriz is also an opponent of Liberation theology. While Secretary of the Congregation for Religious at the Vatican, Errázuriz demanded the Latin American Conference of Religious, regarded as too heavily influenced by Liberation theology, make deep reforms in its most controversial programs.

“[Karadima] is the worst scandal of the Chilean Catholic Church…. [Power] is the true point of the case. The abuses were not possible without a network of political, social and religious power working for 50 years,” Chilean political analyst Ascanio Cavallo, Dean of the Journalism School of the Adolfo Ibáñez University, stated.

In January 2015, the pope appointed Juan Barros Madrid, formerly Military Bishop of Chile, as bishop of Osorno, Chile. Within a month, 1,300 lay Catholics, 51 of Chile’s national lawmakers and thirty priests in the diocese demanded the pope rescind the appointment because at least three of the victims of sex abuse by Karadima said Barros was present when they were molested and Barros later covered up for Karadima. On March 15, 2015, the pope’s nuncio to Chile expressed support for Juan Barros Madrid. As president of the bishops’ conference, Cardinal Ezzati said that “the Holy Father has chosen a pastor for the Church of Osorno and we, as Catholics, are in communion with the pope.”
Barros was installed as bishop on March 21, 2015, “amid riot police and shouting protesters…. hundreds of churchgoers dressed in the black of mourning denounced Barros. “I hold the pope accountable,” stated Juan Carlos Cruz, one of the accusers.

John Paul II was advised on Latin American affairs by his Secretary of State Angelo Sodano. Sodano led “John Paul II’s belligerent anti-communist crusade….With the struggle against Liberation theology as background, Sodano built a network of papal nuncios and bishops from which he exerted his influence over Latin America…. There is a whole generation of nuncios, diplomats and bishops who owe their rise to Cardinal Sodano….The star of Jorge Mario Bergoglio starts rising in the 90s.”

Bergoglio chose Archbishop Pietro Parolin (later elevated to cardinal) as his secretary of state. Parolin is described as a “protégé of,” “raised by” and “close to” Sodano.

The pope has further increased Parolin’s power by appointing him to the supervisory commission of the Vatican Bank and to the important Congregations of the Doctrine of the Faith, for Bishops, for the Evangelization of Peoples and for the Oriental [i.e. non-Roman] Churches as well as making him the ninth member of his privy council.

Yet another indication of Pope Francis’ commitment to Latin American oligarchs is his advancing the ecclesial career of his friend, Uruguayan Guzman Carriquiry Lecour, first to secretary and then vice president of the Pontifical Commission for Latin America.

As an “activist” member of Opus Dei, Carriquiry is committed to working on behalf of landowners and other business elites.

Pope Francis has elevated to sainthood Popes John XXIII and John Paul II. He has declared Pope Paul VI “blessed,” beatification being the step before sainthood. Paul VI was kept informed by Laghi on the collaboration of the Catholic prelates with the junta. John Paul II backed the Argentine, as well as every other, Latin American military dictatorship. At the same time, Pope Francis also approved the beatification of Bishop Alvaro del Portillo, Opus Dei founder Josemaría Escriva’s “best support, and a most faithful collaborator of John Paul II.”

Under Escriva’s guidance, Opus Dei rose to power during the Franco dictatorship. “By the latter stages of the Franco regime, ten out of 19 cabinet officers belonged to or were closely allied with Opus Dei….Internally, Opus Dei is totalitarian and imbued with fascist ideas turned to religious purposes, ideas which were surely drawn from the Spain of its early years,” wrote ex-member John Roche, a professor at Oxford University in England.  

In July 2013, Pope Francis ordered the beatification of 522 “martyrs of the faith” killed by republican militias in the build-up to and during the 1936-1939 Spanish Civil War resulting in Franco’s victory. “More than 100 support groups for victims of Franco’s forces wrote an open letter to the pope calling on him to apologize for the church’s role, which they said helped to legitimize ‘the military uprising and the Franco dictatorship that claimed so many victims.’… Critics of the Catholic Church argue that while it is happy to honor those killed by the republicans, it has failed to address the far higher number of republicans who were murdered by Franco’s forces.” Or for that matter, the murder of thousands more Spaniards by Franco after the war ended.

Recently, Pope Francis declared Salvadoran Archbishop Oscar Romero, assassinated by a right-wing death squad in 1980, to be a “martyr of the faith,” thereby clearing the way for Romero’s beatification on March 23, 2015. Other than a few killed during World War II, Romero is the first person who died at the hands of a right-wing movement or government to be honored by the Catholic Church. But already, Romero is being “rehabilitated.” “Romero had no interest in Liberation theology, says his former secretary….At the same time, the pope also recognized the martyrdoms of three priests killed in Peru by the Shining Path, a Communist guerilla group,” opposed to the dictator Alberto Fujimori. In 2009, Fujimori was convicted of “crimes against humanity” for his security forces’ killings and kidnappings in opposition against leftist guerrillas.

Opus Dei Archbishop of Lima, Juan Luis Cipriani Thorne, elevated to cardinal by John Paul II in the same consistory as Bergoglio, “has been the center of much controversy and criticism from organizations defending human rights, among other groups. Among the events and controversial acts of Cipriani include…his proximity to the government of Fujimori.  

For the first time in the history of Opus Dei, a non-Spaniard holds a leadership position. In December 2014, the pope’s friend, Argentine Monsignor Mariano Fazio, was appointed vicar general. “In the first two years of this pontificate, the relations between the pope and Opus Dei have been excellent….” The current head of Opus Dei, Bishop Echevarría, has an “excellent relationship with the pope.” 

In the geographical area [Latin America] that is used today to indicate the new center of mass of the worldwide Catholic Church, midway through the last century almost the entirety of the population, 94 percent, was made up of Catholics. And still in 1970 Catholics were in the overwhelming majority, at 92 percent.
But then came the collapse. Today the proportion of Catholics is 23 points lower, at 69 percent of the population. The negative record belongs to Honduras, where Catholics have dropped to under half, from 94 to 46 percent. To get an idea of how sharp the decline has been, it should be enough to think that it has taken place entirely within the time span of the episcopal ministry of Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, archbishop of Tegucigalpa and coordinator of the eight cardinals called by Pope Francis to assist him in the governance of the universal Church.”

“Veronica Gimenez Belivau, a professor and theology researcher at the University of Buenos Aires, calculates that while 76 per cent of Argentines call themselves Catholic today, only about 10 per cent are practicing….Professor Gimenez said, ‘In Argentina, 11 per cent of the people have no religion at all.’ If Cardinal Bergoglio was chosen in the hope that a Latin American pope would restore the sapped strength of the Catholic Church here, Professor Gimenez is not sure it will help. ‘It will invigorate the group that is involved in the church already. The core of Catholic activists, including young people, will get a boost and a new sense of legitimacy. But for the rest of the Catholics it will not mean a lot of change.'”

Within eight months of his election, Pope John Paul II took an incredible “victory lap” in his native Poland. The crowds were so enormous that it was said that that was the beginning of the end of communism in Poland.

Pope Benedict XVI went to Cologne four months after his election to participate in the World Youth Day festivities. He was welcomed by German President Horst Kohler, met with representatives of the Muslim community and visited the Synagogue of Cologne among other activities.

Pope Francis has yet to go to Argentina although “a trip to South America this year could include stops in Ecuador, Bolivia, and Paraguay, while, a possible visit in 2016 or 2017 could include stops in Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, and Peru.”

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