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. Continue reading
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