Pope Francis I brings a hopeful future for some Catholics. For others, the new pope brings up questions about a past of kidnapping and the murder of an estimated 30,000 people during Argentina’s “Dirty War.”
There are now more than one billion Catholics in a world of seven billion people. In other words, about one in every seven UMKC students and staff members is a Catholic. Since March 13, when Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected as Pope Francis I, incriminating allegations of his past resurfaced. These included allegations that the Catholic Church and Bergoglio had direct involvement with Argentina’s dictatorial government in committing the Dirty War’s atrocities in the late 1970s and early ’80s An allegation by Bishop Orlando Yorio and Bishop Franz Jalics states that Bergoglio worked directly with the military in their kidnapping.
Both survived the event and spoke out against Bergoglio.
Although Jalics met with Bergoglio in 2000 and said, “I am reconciled to the event and consider the matter closed,” he never withdrew his written allegations.
In 2005, Bergoglio was asked to testify in a human rights hearing about his connection with the government during the Dirty War. He denied all allegations and was never charged.
Court testimonies and denied allegations may be enough evidence for some that Bergoglio had no ties with the vicious junta, but for others it’s not.
One anonymous UMKC staff member who emigrated from Argentina said, “It’s hard to separate the past with what he has become today. The past doesn’t leave and some people can’t forget..
“I watched as this man gave military leaders the communion,” she said. “How can this man give them communion knowing what they are doing to the people?”
Bergoglio was asked a similar question by journalist Horacio Verbitsky in the 2005 hearing: “As leader of the Church in Argentine, how could you not be connected with the military when other priests in the Church admitted to helping them?”
Two priest admitted to working closely with torturing and “biblical justification” of baby kidnapping and “death flights”.
Adolfo Perez won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for his work as a human rights activist during the Dirty War.
On March 15, Perez spoke with Pope Francis and later said “Pope Francis did not have ties with the dictatorship,” even though he may have “lacked the courage to stand with us in our struggle for human rights.”
Thus far all allegations towards Pope Francis have been determined false except for one; his lack to do more during the Dirty War. Was his lack of courage his way of keeping the church alive, or a reflection of self-character?
These allegations can either show Pope Francis is as guilty as an oppressive regime, or at the least, show a lack in certain leadership characteristic.