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VLWC

The Vatican has madea statement on the rumblings about Bergoglio's (in)actions during the Argentine junta, attributing the questions to "anti-clerical left-wing" forces who want to discredit the new Pope. The more things change, etc... Thinking about Margaret's post below, it seems to me that a little bit of historical perspective is helpful.As I said in my first post, Liberation Theology represented a sea change for a church in Latin American that had (for the previous five centuries) racked up a pretty consistent record of resisting any kind of social reform in the most economically and racially stratified region on the planet. Certain liberation theologians' openness to Marxism has to be understood in light of the fact that (1) Marxists were the ones working with the most urgency to try to change that reality and (2) non-Marxist nationalists and reformers were routinely branded as communists even when they were not, and were subjected to persecution (along with actual Marxists). Needless to say, this shared experience reduced the hostility to Marxism on the non-Marxist left. In places like El Salvador, Guatemala, and Argentina, right-wing military and paramilitary groups were routinely torturing and killing pretty much anyone who worked for political liberalization and economic reform, including many priests and even a few bishops.In this context, to choose to actively criticize Liberation Theology was not just to fail to take a prophetic stance against state-sponsored terror. It was very much to take sides -- to see departure from orthodoxy as a more pressing matter of concern than the abuses being perpetrated by the state on a daily basis. Indeed, deciding in that context to criticize Liberation Theology for being too political or too open to communism was (implicitly or explicitly) to adopt much of the point of view of the national-security states. From within that worldview, the political killings were unfortunate, but less problematic than the deeper, existential threat posed by global communism. Looking back, I can understand how it came to happen that John Paul II cracked down on Liberation Theology. Sitting at the Vatican, thousands of miles away, preoccupied as he was in the 1980s with the struggle against communism in his native Poland and elsewhere in Eastern Europe, he seemed to view theologians in Latin America who were insufficiently hostile to Marxism primarily through the lens of that anti-Soviet project. They represented the possibility of the enemy within the gates. But for a bishop or provincial on the ground in Buenos Aires, or in Guatemala City, or in San Salvador, the impulse to view Liberation Theology in that light is somewhat harder to understand, if only because the complex reality of the situation was so much closer at hand and not as easily distorted in the haze of geopolitics.Was Borgoglio just adopting uncritically the priorities of the Vatican? Was he toadying up to his bosses? Did he actually share the regime's assessment of the political situation and the broad outlines of the extraordinary actions the regime justified on the basis of that assessment? Any of these possibilities is disquieting. And that is what is troubling to me about the stories about Borgoglio -- even on the versions most favorable to him. What all of this means for the prospects for his papacy, I have not the slightest clue.UPDATE: This story from the Guardian has some interesting details based on interviews with activists in Argentina and relatives of several people who disappeared who interacted with Borgoglio at the time. This postat New Republic by Michael Sean Winters defends Borgoglio's criticism of Liberation Theology. But it utterly fails to understand liberation theology's context or substance and therefore falls into a regrettable false equivalence between theocons writing about the wisdom of markets in North America and the opennesss to Marxism among theologians working with Marxists (and others) on the ground with some of the poorest people on the planet, subjected to constant threats of torture and death. Liberation Theology was always more than just a set of abstract theological ideas. It was a social movement rooted in the experience of the struggle against brutal violence and economic injustice. Say what you want about its theological purity, but it was not the mirror image of, say, Michael Novack's ideological musings on how entrepreneurism can foster virtue. At the end of the day, the question is one of priorities, and what we can learn about Borgoglio's by thinking about how he perceived Liberation Theology during a time of crisis in his country, a time when students were being thrown out of planes into the ocean and pregnant women were being warehoused so they could be killed after their babies were born and handed over to good Christian families. Remaining silent in the face of the obvious atrocities is one thing. The pressures were no doubt immense, and the stakes were high. It takes heroic courage to stand up to a government under those circumstances. But the decision, at that moment, from a vantage close to the killing grounds in Argentina (not from the Vatican or from 20 years later blogging for the New Republic), that the errors of Liberation Theology were a priority that merited vocal opposition, perhaps reveals something about a person's values.UPDATE II: I had not seen this until someone mentioned it in the comments, but this statement by Leonardo Boff is encouraging:

"I am encouraged by this choice, viewing it as a pledge for a church of simplicity and of ecological ideals, said Leonardo Boff, a founder of liberation theology. What is more, Mr. Boff said, Cardinal Bergoglio comes from the developing world, outside the walls of Rome.

FINAL UPDATE (I PROMISE): It seems clear to me from the comments that I was not careful enough in writing this post. My point is not to condemn the new pope, but just to clarify what I take the stakes to be of the questions about his involvement in the Dirty War. And I think his attitudes towards Liberation Theology are likely to shed useful light on these questions. That said, I only know that he is reported to have been critical of Liberation Theology (like most of those promoted by the Vatican in that era). I'd like to hear more about how critical he was and how that criticism manifested itself. I think picking as pope someone who was actively involved in Church leadership in Argentina at that time necessarily raises many troubling questions. That said, the data here is sparse and my mind remains open. Emphatically, I did not mean to suggest that the questions I raised in the last paragraph of the post were the only possible explanations of Borgoglio's behavior at the time, just that they are possible explanations and, if true, would be very troubling to me.

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The story is going mainstream. Eugene Robinson tries to strike a right balance in telling it: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2013/03/15/questions_from_a_di...

Thanks, Eduardo. Fair enough, and I appreciate your latest update.

Greg -- I would too. I have not yet found any. Rita -- I apologize for my lack of clarity. I've posted an update to the post to make clear that I really am asking questions. I do, however, come at this with some skepticism built in by (1) my generally favorable attitude towards liberation theology and (2) my generally critical attitude towards the hierarchy's role in Argentina at the time.

How neatly you've judged the motives of someone whom you don't even know. Anyone who criticized liberation theology, according to your account above, cannot possibly have a theological concern, but is either "toadying" to the bosses in Rome or agreeing with the regime on the ground. There are other choices. So sad that you don't believe that, and that you have already therefore condemned him.

Nope. I'm just trying to understand why he would choose to remain silent about a regime killing tens of thousands of people but speak out against a group of people working against that regime in order to criticize their theological purity. Students were taken into airplanes and helicopters and thrown into the ocean. Pregnant women were warehoused until their children could be born; then they were killed and their children given to the families of people close to the regime. Silence. But God forbid that a theologian fail to see the theological error in Marxist materialism. That must be condemned. I'm not judging him. I have no idea what he was thinking. I'm just asking the question and showing that it can come from someplace other than a left-wing anti-clerical desire to discredit the new pope, as the Vatican put it. In any event, my list was not meant to be exhaustive. Feel free to speculate in the comment thread about what motives he might have had. Even as you describe them in an attempt to defend him, I remain troubled.

Eduardo, I hope that you (and many others) will continue to ask questions. E.g., What is in the dossier compiled by Herranz? Has Francis read it yet? Could HE be vulnerable to blackwell? If so, by whom? (Could those who truly were complicit in the dirty war be using it against him, and, by extension, against the Jesuits in general?)

The Vatican statement did appear too defensive. "Left-wing and anti-clerical" are from an ecclesiastical lexicon that is now rather dated.

Link to a story on NCR: http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/argentine-priest-kidnapped-during-d... I stated in Ms. Steinfel's post below, would suggest that this was a complex and messy situation. As someone who worked in Guatamela, read and studied under Guiterriez and Boff, younger clerics with much passion saw liberation theology as a way to impact the *system* - in some cases, the system had been in bed with the local catholic hierarchy for years and lorded it over folks. But, like any civil war situation, it is not black and white; sides shift; folks have various motivations. From my understanding, Bergoglio was in his thirties as provincial and had a mission to keep his priests unaligned in the civil war - rather to serve and protect the people. Guessing that there are continued hard feelings among Argetine Jesuits who may have felt that Bergoglio was not sympathetic to their goals. In hindsight, Bergoglio may have actually served a purpose to keep his priests from being *politicized*.That being said, read the link - you will find a statement by a Nobel Peace Prize winner who states the Bergoglio was not complicit nor could he be identified with those bishops who were aligned with the military.Agree with Rita's sentiments above.

It may be helpful to keep in mind the nature of the pope's role. Let's recall the story of the Peter who he is supposed to be succeeding: he fell asleep repeatedly when asked to keep watch during Jesus' last hours, missed the point of Jesus' nonviolence, ran away when Jesus was arrested, and pretended not to know him at all when questioned despite vowing he would never do that a few hours earlier.In short, he cooperated with a military dictatorship when the going got tough. So should this new guy be expected to be any better than St. Peter? Is his role to be a heroic figure of moral perfection or a sort of failure that's willing to embarassedly point towards Jesus and do his honest best?But maybe you're willing to be understanding of his falling short of martyrdom in the face of a murderous government. Surely we can at least demand that he acknowledge his past failings and explicitly ask forgiveness? I'm not so sure when I think of the example of Jesus, who didn't seem to make that demand of Peter, other than to ask, "Do you love me?" and direct him to "Tend my sheep." Why didn't Jesus demand more accountability?I'm not saying that historical investigations aren't of great importance for learning how we can do better next time. (I'm also sensitive to the concern that the pope may be susceptible to blackmail if there are some skeletons there.)

Maybe Pope Francis should become his own official spokesman and retire Fr. Lombardi, S.J.

A simple thought experiment: Suppose we take our understanding of the Gospels as necessary asumptions. Now imagine that Jesus returned to the streets and byways of B.A. in those sdad days. Does Jesus align himself in any way with the military? Does He remain silent when he learns of people thrown into the ocean from helicopters, or infants stolen from their mothers to satisfy the desires of the rich and powerful. Does He remain faithful to the direction of the Sanhedrin? Or does He work to release the prisoners, to speak for those who have been silenced, to urge those solitary from fear to join together?If taking Isaiah 58 and Matthew 25 not just seriously, but as direction for my life makes me "left-wing and anticlerical", then I woud gladly wear the title.Mark

From the late 50s and into the 70s, from Cuba to Chile, Communists were on the rampage in Latin America, infiltrating and trying to co-opt everything from government, to schools, to social services and even the Catholic Church.It is clear to anyone that, once Communists take control (see Cuba), society is trapped and is really stuck for years, even generations, mired in ignorance, low economy, and senseless, often bureaucratic violence and murder. My wife was a child during Chiles 1973 golpa, and to this day she and her family claim that while in the end Pinochet went too far, the fact is that he saved Chile from following in Cubas sad steps. The result is that today Cube is a nightmare, and Chile while not perfect of course - is fine.Certainly ends do not justify means, and certainly any military dictator eventually goes too far and needs to be pushed out - as Pinochet was. However in the case of Argentinas Guerra Sucia, considering the nature and tactics of the Peronistas and their legendary rampages, not to mentioned those factions allied with Guevaras ideas and tactics, it is really breathtaking how todays leftists (in both the Anglo and Latino societies) still try to play the oh poor is me, the down trodden victims who just want a chance. In 1950, The USA and Argentina had very similar economies and similar prospects for bright futures - and then came old Juan and Eva Pern. The nonsense of those two, established, and indeed institutionalized, many if not most of the problems from which Argentina suffers to this day.And Eduardo, let's save the drama about regimes and "tens of thousands", for another time; everyone knows that for all the faults (there are many in fact) of right wing dictatorships, everyone knows that from Berlin to Moscow, from Beijing to Havana, Socialists and Communists have killed many, many more times the number of people, than any Latin American military junta.

I think people should be somewhat certain of their facts before accusing anyone of being complicit with a murderous regime.These allegations, which mostly seem to hinge on one journalist's book, allegations which seem to be countered and denied by a variety of sources, have been wholeheartedly embraced by some within hours of the announcement of the new Pope. Yes, lots and lots of news stories about it, but they all peg back to the one book. Not only have these questionable allegations been enthusiastically embraced, without consideration of all of the counter evidence, they are used to quickly judge the new Pope without taking into account the rest of the man's life; his proven, lifelong service to the poor.Color me skeptical.

Heres what I think. A young Jesuit provincial informed his men that he wanted them to continue to reside in their parish or chaplaincies rather than take up residence in the barrios where revolt was fomenting. Two of the Jesuits under his leadership decided that they would continue to live in the barrio, not as advocates of violence but in solidarity with the poor. They were in conflict with their religious superior. I think that Borgoglio saw that he could not protect his men if they were residing in the thick of the growing revolt. And events proved that. I do not believe there is any evidence at all that he was working directly with the junta. I think he was reacting, feeling out and finding his way. It was a time of violence, outrage and immense confusion in Argentina. The fall-out continues there, evidenced by the 2010 apology of the hierarchy for their failures during that time. Do I think that Borgoglio acted in a particularly heroic way? No. But I do think he was making the effort to be a responsible provincial and lay down boundaries that would allow him some control in a frightening and unpredictable time.

"Respected Brazilian theologian Leonardo Boff said Thursday he did not believe that Pope Francis, acting in his capacity then as Jesuit provincial, could be implicated in connection to the acts of the Argentine junta, and that he in fact assisted some of the junta's intended victims." http://www.cnn.com/2013/03/15/opinion/clarke-pope-francis/index.htmlBoff also let everyone know that he is pumped for this papacy more generally. Odd that he would given that Pope Francis is supposedly "against" Liberation Theology.

The Guardian story linked above is at least the third story I've seen in the last couple of days on this topic. All stories are essentially regurgitating the same charges put forward by the same three people: Verbitsky, Bregman and de la Cuadra. I agree that these things need to be looked into. I would note that, in the case of Verbitsky, his most sensational charges have already been partially or fully discredited. Yet these at-least-partically-discredited charges continue to spread like a virus from one media outlet to another.The new Holy Father is already immersed in a public controversy, and based on Eduardo's and John Page's commentary, it looks like the Vatican media office may not be up to the task. The Vatican needs to adopt the sort of media reaction timetable that a well-run US presidential campaign does - quick and effective responses.

Sorry for not understanding this - what does the title of this post, "VLWC" mean?

"Maybe Pope Francis should become his own official spokesman and retire Fr. Lombardi, S.J."Yes! He can talk, can't he?

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy

Since he is now our pope, I think we must try to figure out whether or not he is trustworthy. But how to do it? First, it seems to me we should wait for more evidence from more objective, reliable sources.I think that the testimony of the Nobel Peace Prize Winner, Escrivez (sp?) is most important. If we can't trust him, who can we trust? If he is not objective, who is? True, he might not know all the facts, but he probably has access to a lot more facts AND is a better judge of sources than the media. But again, we need to know something about his character too. Second, there are the findings of Amnesty International. Both sources are, on the surface at least, of the highest caliber.But we can also look at his apparent character, at his actions that are recorded by TV, etc. Certainly he *appeared* as a humble and kindly man when he appeared on the balcony and when he refused the fancy accoutrements. But ISTM there is a certain ambiguity about his going to pay his bill -- was that a bid for attention or an attempt to show that he is just one of us? If so, then it's not an attractive quality, but it certainly can't be taken as indicating that is the sort of person who conspires with murderers. Yes, this paragraph is about body language, but body language does reveal character at times -- unless we're dealing with a splendid actor.We also know he's a very intelligent man, but one who never deviates from the official Vatican line in matters of personal ethics. BUT did he also go along with the government on matters of social justice? Obviously, he went against the government when he concentrated on helping the poor, so we cannot say he was just a fascist fellow traveller bishop doing whatever the government told him to do. Given that fact, I think that it is extremely unlikely that he would easily tolerate torture IF he could avoid it. But in hellish situations like that, it might have been worse for other people if he had spoken out publicly. Complexity, complexity, complexity. complexity . . . . . . .

Tomorrow's press conference should be fascinating.

Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy.Not all that vast.

"Adolfo Perez Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel peace prize for documenting the junta's atrocities, takes a similar view. "Perhaps he didn't have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship," he told the Associated Press. "Bergoglio was no accomplice of the dictatorship. He can't be accused of that."This important statement by someone who documented the junta's atrocities, plus Boff's statement mean something. Eduardo chooses not to lay the emphasis here but on his own and others restructuring the probability of Bergoglio's complicity with the regime. This is troubling despite his reservations that he is open to all the facts.

Please show me where I say he was complicit with the regime. I am heartened by Boff's reaction.

Jesus commanded Peter, "Put your sword away!"Then Eduardo interrupted, "But the Romans have killed thousands of innocent people. This is no time for careful theological distinctions!"Seriously, though, what exactly was Bergoglio's criticism of liberation theology? Do we have any quotations in his own words? If he was criticizing cooperation with armed resistance (or that aspect of some forms of Marxism), then it is hardly fair to say he was "deciding in that context to criticize Liberation Theology for being too political or too open to communism." If your criticism is merely that he was wrong not to explicitly praise liberation theology, then say so.

I used the words "lay the emphasis." Here for example where you write: "Was Borgoglio just adopting uncritically the priorities of the Vatican? Was he toadying up to his bosses? Did he actually share the regimes assessment of the political situation and the broad outlines of the extraordinary actions the regime justified on the basis of that assessment? Any of these possibilities is disquieting. And that is what is troubling to me about the stories about Borgoglio even on the versions most favorable to him." Even tho you are asking questions they are what is called "leading" questions like a lawyer might posit. Whereas after you state that Michael Sean Winters defends Bergoglio you then criticize Winters understanding of LT which implies that you disagree with his criticism.

Margaret Hebblethwaite seems to like him, and she's rather unimpeachable I think:http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2013/mar/14/the-pope-francis-i-k... surviving priest from the kdnapping episode also seems good with Bergolgio:http://www.elnuevodia.com/jesuitatorturadoporlajuntamilitarestaenpazcone... facts are facts, and good to get all the info out.

I agree, David. It's part of the insanity of this process that the facts get revealed after the guy is appointed and when those who want to know them are accused of being anti-clerical leftists (I'll own to half of that equation though I won't say which half).

Agreed that the anti-clerical leftists claim is ridiculous.

"Im just trying to understand why he would choose to remain silent about a regime killing tens of thousands of people but speak out against a group of people working against that regime in order to criticize their theological purity."I'm usually on board with Mr Pealver on this blog. But I find his case not terribly persuasive.From what I read he opposed the activity of clergy in secular politics. As a liberal Catholic, I'm 100% on board with this. It's my job (with a billion or so others) to be involved with base communities, economics, political ideologies, and such. Priests and bishops, from Fr Fessio to Fr Berrigan, keep away. Not your fight. Not your vocation. Not your calling. Not as long as you are active priests.I'm a skeptic on the Pius XII wasn't a martyr front, and I am here too. Sure: Fr Bergoglio as a Jesuit priest, later a provincial, and as an archbishop, certainly had the opportunity to pull a Romero on the world. Heck, you could say that about any pundit. Why didn't I, for example, learn Pashto and move myself and my family to Afghanistan in 2002 if I was so steamed about the so-called War On Terror?If my sister and brother progressives want to hop on me for ideological impurity, I have no problem calling them out. I know we're in vast agreement on 98% of the agenda, more or less. But if I think someone's not on the right path, and it's serious, I'm not going to go lemming on them just for the companionship.So sure: let's keep gathering facts. Let's pay attention to the care taken with these "facts" as they are released. Bergoglio skeptics have already egged their faces with that vacation home. Mr Pealver has associated himself with journalists who are in dire need of a sharp editor. But he's been a comrade for years on dotCommonweal so I'm willing to cut him some slack on this. Show me something substantive. Please don't go Karl Rove on me.

3rd paragraph, "he" above = Fr Bergoglio

Is the Vatican statement the work of the Opus Dei fellow recruited from Fox news? That could explain a lot.

Grant has a tweet saying the pope set aside his homily from the secretary of state and gave his own off-the-cuff. Fact check?

And to quote a friend: "Can Pope Francis send curial officials to jug?"

Todd -- that's the best defense of Bergoglio's stance that I think can be made. If that turns out to have been his reasoning, I wouldn't agree with it, but I would be comfortable that he was not sympathetic to the goals of the regime or just playing the bureaucratic game. What we have right now, however, is a dearth of facts and few means to get them. I would love to hear him talk about it himself. And, again, the process seems backwards to me.

If you put on the trendy "no enemies to the left" spectacles always popular among some zealous progressives you only give license to the worst thugs (after all, they care so much - their heart etc., etc.). Bravo Bergoglio for challenging the simplisms of ideological politics. It would be refreshing if more, even among the academic left, would follow his example.

The question is not whether he had any enemies to the left. Could any person be elected Pope who did not? The question is whether he had any enemies to the right.

I have seen the Vatican statement elsewhere, but the link provided at the top of this thread doesn't work for me. Is it just me?Ann Olivier:Pope Francis's gathering with the press tomorrow will be a opportunity for him to thank the journalists who have come to Rome to cover the Conclave and the Inaugural Mass on St. Joseph's Day. Between five and six thousand journalists are in Rome to report on these events. The meeting will be held in the vast Paul VI Audience Hall. I doubt that there will be any opportunity for questions. But this is a pope of surprises, who so far seems to be eluding the control of the Vatican handlers. He will certainly make some remarks, and may address this controversy. But I tend to doubt it. It's not the right setting. Perhaps in time he will agree to one-on-one conversations with a journalist, as Benedict XVI has done with Peter Seewald.

Ms. Steinfels - are you asking about his first homily in the Sistine Chapel?Link: http://en.radiovaticana.va/news/2013/03/14/pope_francis:_1st_homily_(full_text)/en1-673526Appears that it was written out in latin but the pope chose to set that printed talk aside and talk to the gathered cardinals in Italian and without reference to any printed material.

link fixed

For background information on how anyone could be critical of liberation theology, here is a link to the CDF statement: Instruction on Certain Aspects of the "Theology of Liberation"http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_... be critical is not to reject the goal of liberation. From the CDF document:"This warning should in no way be interpreted as a disavowal of all those who want to respond generously and with an authentic evangelical spirit to the "preferential option for the poor." It should not at all serve as an excuse for those who maintain the attitude of neutrality and indifference in the face of the tragic and pressing problems of human misery and injustice. It is, on the contrary, dictated by the certitude that the serious ideological deviations which it points out tends inevitably to betray the cause of the poor. More than ever, it is important that numerous Christians, whose faith is clear and who are committed to live the Christian life in its fullness, become involved in the struggle for justice, freedom, and human dignity because of their love for their disinherited, oppressed, and persecuted brothers and sisters. More than ever, the Church intends to condemn abuses, injustices, and attacks against freedom, wherever they occur and whoever commits them. She intends to struggle, by her own means, for the defense and advancement of the rights of mankind, especially of the poor."Personally, I think very highly of liberation theology. However, I think this statement from the CDF raises some fair critical questions. The alternatives are not so absolute as this post makes out. I agree with Bill Mazzella. Eduardo, you say you are merely asking questions, but they are leading questions. When I read your post, I understood it to say that the situation is black and white. That is, if anyone criticizes liberation theology, they must either be moral cowards, or out for their own advancement, or support throwing people out of helicopters. This seems unfair to me.

The question is whether he had any enemies to the right. I hope they don't poison him.

Here are another two paragraphs from the instruction quoted above that bear on this question:17. In this full presentation of Christianity, it is proper to emphasize those essential aspects which the "theologies of liberation" especially tend to misunderstand or to eliminate, namely: God and true man; the sovereignty of grace; and the true nature of the means of salvation, especially of the Church and the sacraments. One should also keep in mind the true meaning of ethics in which the distinction between good and evil is not relativized, the real meaning of sin, the necessity for conversion, and the universality of the law of fraternal love. One needs to be on guard against the politicization of existence which, misunderstanding the entire meaning of the Kingdom of God and the transcendence of the person, begins to sacralize politics and betray the religion of the people in favor of the projects of the revolution.18. The defenders of orthodoxy are sometimes accused of passivity, indulgence, or culpable complicity regarding the intolerable situations of injustice and the political regimes which prolong them. Spiritual conversion, the intensity of the love of God and neighbor, zeal for justice and peace, the Gospel meaning of the poor and of poverty, are required of everyone, and especially of pastors and those in positions of responsibility. The concern for the purity of the faith demands giving the answer of effective witness in the service of one's neighbor, the poor and the oppressed in particular, in an integral theological fashion. By the witness of their dynamic and constructive power to love, Christians will thus lay the foundations of this "civilization of love" of which the Conference of Puebla spoke, following Paul VI. [34] Moreover there are already many priests, religious, and lay people who are consecrated in a truly evangelical way for the creation of a just society.

According to the Google translation, three paragraphs toward the end of the article cited by David Gibson, (2:32 PM) (http://www.elnuevodia.com/jesuitatorturadoporlajuntamilitarestaenpazcone...) read as follows: The issue of alleged collaboration with the Board Pope Francisco was approached years ago by Argentine journalist Horacio Verbistky and now resurfaced after the election of the pope.Bergoglio himself replied to the accusations in 2010, in the book "The Jesuit" and rejected such collaboration.The human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize Adolfo Prez Esquivel refused these days these charges from the British BBC television, where he said that there were bishops who were accomplices of the dictatorship in Argentina, but Bergoglio no.

Enemies to the Right? He'll certainly have them now. Will that be good enuf?

3,000 deaths by drone (the admittedly hazy consensus figure on Pro Publico) isn't tens of thousands, but we are on only the Beta version of the drones and just warming up. Does anybody here know Ellen Grady, Ithaca, NY, arrested three times so far for protesting the worldwide assassination program? (America, March 11.) Sen. Rand Paul noticed the program, but his compassion extends only to Americans and mostly only those in this country. Nothing about collateral civilians here and there. Our junta is still in power, though, chalking them up.Grady and Rand make one and a half on the side of the angels. And the opposition party applauds, so there is no hope there.I can't believe the balance of attention between Argentina 30-40 years ago and this country right now. I must look up motes and beams.

Eduardo, what I would love to see is links to stories about what Bergoglio did and said in the decades you are referring to. How did he criticize liberation theology? Did he recognize and distinguish between different theologians? Did he do so in the context of no criticism of capitalism? Why would Boff ever be saying what he is if Bergoglio were what you say he was? David Gibson's links are very helpful, especially The Guardian one. I really hope Francis is allowed to be pope for a while before he gets to boxed in, even by Vatican press officials. I think the "anticlerical left" comment was not helpful.

Thanks Eduardo for an interesting post. As strong supporter of liberation theology who helped organise protests against dictator Videla's visit to New Zealand at the time, I agree with you on the general context of marxism/communism and the need of the Church to work with Marxists, and others, for social justice. We need to be humble and open and work with others even if we may disagree on some things.There does not seem to me to be much of a case against Fr Bergoglio. He intervened to save the 2 Jesuit priests, he risked his own life by sheltering fugitives from the dictatorship in his own home and even gave his identify papers to one of them who looked like him so he could flee the country.There were valid criticism's of some liberation theology enthusiasts who were tempted to employ methods not in accord with the gospel - armed revolution and a certain tendency to try to transform the Church into a political party. I expect Bergogolio's reservations on liberation theology would have been along those lines. Would be interested to hear more.I would be very wary of suggesting that Fr Bergogolio wasn't outspoken enough without knowing everything he said and in what context (lots of pressure not just from the military dictatorship but also within the Church and possibly even from Rome). Fr Bergoglio may have been rather constrained in what he could say or do in such a context.God Bless

What seems very odd to me is that Bergoglio, a Jesuit and the Provincial, took the stance of the Vatican over the stance of the Superior General of his own order. Pedro Arrupe made clear that he supported the Jesuits working with the poor, even if it put them in danger from right-wing juntas .... "They may end up as martyrs, but my priests are not going to leave because they are with the people." I think of the courage and commitment of Jesuits like those killed later in El Salvador and of Oscar Romero - Bergoglio seemed to be the opposite of all that.

I hope this is not the Spanish version of The Onion. If this is true, the man is charging out the opening gate and heading in the right direction (Yes, I know this is not the subject of this discussion ... but it appears to be damned good news!):http://www.periodistadigital.com/religion/vaticano/2013/03/15/francisco-... site offers a pidgin English translation service.As se hace, Francisco!

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About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the John P. Wilson Professor of Law at the University of Chicago Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.