14 Mar 2013

Does the New Pontiff Come with a Dark Past?

During Argentina's "dirty wars," which took place under a military dictatorship, 1976-1983, political opponents of the regime were routinely disappeared while American aid dollars rolled in to the junta. Throughout it all, most of Argentina's bishops remained silent, including Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis).

bergoglio and videla

But Hugh O'Shaughnessy, writing two years ago in the Guardian, suggests that Bergoglio may have been more complicit than merely silent:

The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.


The cardinal's spokesman denied the charges, and, according to the U.K. edition of the International Business Times, "no evidence was presented linking him to the kidnapping" of the two priests he was accused of hiding.

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