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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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I have just been told that this is most likely a made-up story by a supermarket-style rag.Sorry to let my glee take precedence over patience.

Here's an English-language version of the reconciliation of Fr. Jalics with Bishop Bergoglio in 2000.

Speaking of complicity with evil regimes-how about the fact that here today the left ,right and center is taking a hands off attitude toward the regime in syria where over 70 thousand people have been killed and atrocities against civilians takes place regularly.[Yes we're aiding the rebels but after two years of atrocites we're not helping them militarily which prolongs the suffering and deaths of all these people struggling to topple this evil regime.]McCain has called for intervention on moral grounds and he's denounced by all sides for it.All I hear prominent Catholics say -is that for all his faults -Assad is good for the Christians !That and "better this then what may happen if Assad is toppled."[And they will push for war against iran who backs the syrian regime yet they do not want to topple Assad.]That's the prism they choose to see the dirty war going on there through.If Christians here can, from the safety of being outside that murdering regimes crosshairs-politicize the atrocious murder of over 70,000 men women and children-then is it not hypocritical to stir the pot regarding how Pope Francis[Francisco?] didn't do the right thing when he himself was in the belly of the beast?. Of course we want to know looking back at his life what his actions and reasoning at that time was-but what about today and our complicity or sins of omission in"dirty wars"?

Molly Roach, I agree. I think that the primary issue here is obedience to the superior of the religious community. Who knows? Perhaps Bergoglio was trying to protect them from harm or protect the religious community and Church from retaliation. The implication that he was against liberation theology (Pope John Paul known for his anti-Communist and anti-liberation theology, could not have been an influence at that time. He was named pope in late 1978.) The fact that the two Jesuits were kidnapped was an unintended consequence and may have been a Romero moment for Bergoglio.He was young (late 30s) and ordained less than 10 years when he became the provincial. Maybe, these men were older and in the order longer. Who knows?As you wrote: Do I think that Borgoglio acted in a particularly heroic way? No. Neither do I.At least he didnt play tennis regularly with a leader of the junta as did Pio Laghi, papal nuncio during this time. Later on in his life Laghi is supposed to have said that perhaps he wasn't a hero.I may be wanting to see the best in our new pope, but given the talk about his commitment to the poor today, well, Id rather like to think that he is not proud of that part of his life either.

In some ways this strikes me as being similar to overhearing parts of a conversation and later recounting that conversation to someone else as though you had heard every word. I don't say that an effort to get as many facts out as possible shouldn't be made. But at the moment we are dealing with some facts and a good number of surmises.The news media, and not just in the US, are giving lots of prominence to the story. It's become a sub-theme that threatens to overtake the main narrative. We know more than we did yesterday, but at some point I think a limit will be reached. Were the cardinals at least somewhat aware of the potential for a problematic reaction to their decision? Or did they consider it and conclude that such a reaction would be unjustified? The principal story is so encouraging.If the Father General of the Jesuits thought Father Bergoglio was being disobedient, he had the power to remove him from office. He didn't.

Some background on priests and other Catholics involved in armed struggle in Argentina: Bless

There's also the question of his reluctance to provide information about what happened ..." Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court in trials involving torture and murder inside the feared Navy Mechanics School and the theft of babies from detainees. When he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman told the AP." -

Quite a few Argentine human rights activists are now coming out in defense of the Pope."Argentine Nobel Peace Prize winner, Adolfo Prez Esquivel and former presidential candidate and ex-member of the National Commission on Disappearance of Persons (CONADEP) Graciela Fernndez Meijide affirm that Bergoglio did not have sinister relations with the military during the dictatorship. Bergoglio himself, in his book The Jesuit, responds to the criticism, denying his responsibility for the circumstances that led to the priests capture. With more details, former judge, secretary of human rights and ombudswoman of the City of Buenos Aires, Alicia Olivera, affirms that Bergoglio supported her when she was removed from her position as judge by the military dictatorship. Olivera further remarks that he tried to help the young priests situation. This controversy will probably bring some troubles to Pope Francis, but as Robert Cox, former editor of the Buenos Aires Herald, exiled in 1979, opines, while Bergoglio has not done enough to publicly explain the incident, he did as much as he could behind the scenes."

He seems to be generally well received in Latin American's Council of Churches circles: brief snip about anything negative:"The reactions of Argentineans about the election are rather divided. On one hand, Bergoglio is accused of not speaking out against human rights violations at the time of the military dictatorship, while many proclaim that the bishop helped hundreds of people to escape prison and death during that same period."

Thanks, Eduardo, for the updates.A few comments:- keep in mind that Bergoglio was in his thirties and a priest less than five years when elected provincial.- having trouble trying to locate the history of the province of Argentina (refounded in 1836) but am guessing that there were less than 100 Jesuits in Argentian when Bergoglio was provincial- provincials of religious communities do not normally make public pronouncements - they leave that to the local bishops and hierarchy (how many times have you read an announcement from a US religious community provincial having to do with sexual abuse; how about the Fortnite for Freedom; etc.)- would guess that Bergoglio's efforts to insist upon a neutral, middle ground during the *dirty war* was not well received by some of his Jesuit brothers (leadership of a religious community is not as black and white as some seem to conceive - leadership is based upon example, persuasion, arguments, reason, etc. - no provincial is 100% successful)- my experience of provincials who leave office - they can't wait especially those who have had to deal with internal conflict (again, imagine during the dirty war)- often, provincial emeritus will move into something that gives them a break (whether emotionally or physically) from the province for a number of years (recall all of the verbiage to date about our emeritus bishop of Rome) and distances them from the new leadershipSome other notes - January, 2010, the Jesuit provinces of Argentina and Uruguay combined. There is a Jesuit priest from Argentina currently in the Jesuit headquarters in Rome. Agree with John Page above - lots of comments from folks who have never lived in a reilgious community; don't understand how provinces operate or are led; relationship to apostolotes and to the local hierarchy, etc. The job of provincial (especially today) is one of the most difficult task I can imagine (think constant dealings with abuse - historical or current; legal conferences that take 40% of your time; dealing with the retired members, their medical care, etc.; dwindling resources; manpower; financial stability)

I sincerely hope that the legacy of Francis will not be a repeat of that of Pius XII in terms of what he did/didn't do.

"The job of provincial (especially today) is one of the most difficult task I can imagine..."The sixties and seventies while bringing in needed reform and renewal got excessive to a point that whatever a supervisor in the church said was automatically opposed. In Rochester they marched against Bishop Sheen for closing a church which had less than fifty parishioners. In some cases some reformers were like a a two year old saying no to anyone who opposed. Especially a superior. That was part of the reason for the backlash. The danger of new movements at that time was that too many of the new leaders started to do anything they wanted. Many superiors feared losing more pastors. So it is in that context that Bergoglio operated. He was working on keeping his province intact. While the issues were good too many exploited them. For an example of this look at Neuhaus, Law, Novak and others who did a complete 360 when the climate changed.

Pertinent to this subject today there is a tremendous problem of middle class couples struggling to make anything close to what their parents made. We live in a time where middle class workers are under extreme duress. The new idols are the shareholders and the living wage is becoming a rarity.

For some perspective, read about Cardinal Ral Silva Henrquez who spoke out for human rights against the regime of Pinochet in Chile at about the same times as the dirty war in Argentina .....

Un-oh! Speaking of human rights, what about the right to follow one's own conscience? This article by Jamie Manson at NCR is concerned with Pope Francis' admiration of Communion and Liberation (CL). According to her it is a fundamentalist world-view which"CL boldly claims that the Church embodies authoritative truth that is binding on society at large. . . "Although CL members are comfortable in the modern, technological and political world, they reject the modern insistence on "a freedom of conscience that excludes the religious attitude at its very root.""In other words, Francis seems to lean to a highly authoritarian view of the Church and its place in society. How will this sit with the West? Storms ahead if Manson is right.

In addition to the right and the left, there is the middle which the Church is responsible for protecting from the warring factions. And isn't the Church's main mission to bring God's word and the sacraments to his people, even those caught in the middle of a civil war?

Cardinal Silva Henriquez is one of my great heroes. He was cardinal archbishop of Santiago. Father Bergoglio was provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina. He was not a bishop, and so not a member of the bishops' conference. That's a major difference.Some Chilean bishops were close to the Pinochet regime. One of them was the bishop of Valparaiso, Jorge Medina Estevez, who in June 1996 was named by John Paul II prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments, and therein lies a tale. But the hour is late, and I'll forbear after more comments on this site today than I make in a month.No one denies that the Chilean episcopate was, for the most part, more courageous than the neighboring bishops' conference.

Ann, There's a wikipedia page on LC ... ... it sounds scary. An interesting post as the Daily Beast - Siete Things to Know About Pope Francis & Argentinas Dirty War

Crystal --Thanks for the links. It seems to me that CL's principles as presented in Wiki are so general it could turn into anything. Interesting that Cardinal Martini was against it. But it doesn't rely on secresy the way OD and the Legionaires do, so I guess that's a good thing. About Bergoglio being complicit in the horrors, most of the data is matter of he said/she said. Though I'm impressed that years ago Amnesty International clear him, and now the Nobel Prize winner who should be the most objective witness of all has defended him clearly. But I am not one to say that one must publicly oppose terror no matter what. Sometimes that is self-defeating -- it often results in the elimination of those who oppose the tyranny.

The criticisms I've been reading seem to be:1. He didn't publicly oppose the regime2. He didn't do enough to protect two Jesuits targeted by the regime.Apart from whether any of it is true or not, it doesn't seem like it would be possible to do both of those things. Doing either one would have to open him up to criticism of not doing the other.

The two priest were no longer Jesuits. The provincial (Bergoglio) had dismissed them from the order a week earlier.

The Jesuits seem to believe the allegations, to judge from an article in the Guardian today. See especially the remarks of Fr De Vera.

Joseph, The only thing new in the article you reference is that the Jesuits are lukewarm about his election. But one would never know that by reading the pages in America. In general it is a schizoid article capitalizing on the interest in the subject. It certainly was not coherent. So more of the same and what is your point on insisting that your view, evidently decided, is the correct one?

I don't know about the Jesuits in Argentina, but I've always been impressed with the great variety of outlooks among the Jesuits here. They have always ranged from very conservative to very liberal. Some saints and . . .

Gerylyn:"The two priest were no longer Jesuits. The provincial (Bergoglio) had dismissed them from the order a week earlier."I didnt get that impression from the article at all.The article says; Years laterthe priests met with Father Bergoglio, who by then was archbishop of Buenos Aires.Father Jalics said. Afterward, we together celebrated Mass publicly and embraced. I don't think that a provincial can dismiss a validly ordained man from the order.

Here is a fall-back for any of the 'worried'Oscar Romero at 35 was not the same Oscar Romero at 63. so why assume a Francis at 76 is the same as a Bergoglio at 35

Even if all the accusations were true, I have no right to throw stones. If I knew that publicly criticizing sadistic tyrants would lead to ME being tortured, I'm sure I'd have been a clam. But since Leonardo Boff has strongly supported Francis I think my opinion has pretty well set -- it looks like the accusations were false or misjudged the man. He actually helped those priests to be released. He did not abandon them.

Helen, I don't think there's any dispute about the fact that Bergoglio expelled the two priests from the Society of Jesus a week before they were arrested. Or about the fact that provincials can admit ordained men to the Society of Jesus and expel them. (Religious profession and ordination are not the same thing.)Three more leads:"The controversial Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky has claimed that Bergoglio failed to protect two former Jesuits at the height of the violence. The two activist priests had been seized shortly after Bergoglio expelled them from the Jesuit order."

The Daily Beast article delivers little about Francis and mostly about the Dirty War.Why the juxtaposition of the pnoto taken 10-years early of "priest" Arrupe and "priest" Beroglio "giving a mass" with the photo taken 10 years later of an anti-government demonstation?Sloppy reporting is just that, sloppy.

An unlikely St. Patricks Day message (see the Massacre of San Patricio below)My take on the question of Bergoglios responsibilities during the Dirty War in Argentina: Fr. Jorge Bergoglio, SJ, now Pope Francis, was a young provincial (36 when appointed, 39 when the coup took place), the context was volatile, the two priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, did not obey his demand that they leave the poor neighborhood where they worked and one or both asked to leave the Jesuits and join a diocese under a tolerant bishop.The Argentine Church leadership, with a few notable exceptions, behaved abominably. They gave public recognition and support to the military dictatorship for years. They gave almost no public recognition or support to the victims and their families. Several priests played central roles in the detention, torture, and murder of suspected dissidents, and justified this in religious terms. Only a few bishops defended the human rights of the disappeared and supported organizations like the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo. One priest, Christian von Wernach, is presently serving a life sentence for his role, while others have been accused but not yet put on trial. In this context, Bergoglio would have to have been heroic to speak out. He did not.The fear of Communism was both rational and irrational, and it led the military, civilians, and many within the Church to fear those among them who might be "subversive" and they allowed this fear to justify some of the most cruel and brutal treatment to which human beings have subjected other human beings in the Americas in the last half century. This is not about comparing evils, as if the evil done by Communist regimes could somehow justify the evil done in the name of anti-Communism.There were Catholics and ex-Catholics, some priests, who participated in or were strongly linked to some of the leftist groups who were carrying out assassinations and bomb attacks. There were many more Catholics committed to the poor who were not in any way involved in violent actions.The regime tended to see anyone who worked with the poor or who defended human rights as subversive, either because they were directly participating in the violence or because their teaching of the Gospel provided ideological justification for leftist positions, violent or not.Of what, to my understanding, is Bergoglio accused?1. Bergoglio is accused of believing that either or both Fr. Orlando Yorio, SJ and Fr. Francisco Jalics, SJ, were dangerous subversives and of communicating this belief to many others in a way that facilitated their arrest. Released after five months, 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.2. Bergoglio is accused of withdrawing his protection from Yorio and Jalics before they were arrested. After much discussion and debate, Bergoglio gave them 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. An important note about the context: Yorio and Jalics went to work in a poor neighborhood in 1974 during a time in which there was an elected government, but there were also armed organizations carrying out assassinations and bombings on both the left and the right. In 1973, one of the people who had worked with Yorio and Jalics in the neighborhood left and joined one of the leftist guerrilla groups and had no more contact with Yorio and Jalics. The Argentine military coup took place on March 26, 1976, shortly after Yorio wrote to Bergoglio asking to leave the Jesuits. After the coup, the person who joined the guerrillas was captured and interrogated. It emerged that he had once worked in the neighborhood with Yorio and Jalics. 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 Mnica 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 those arrested in connection with the priests were ever found to be involved with the guerrillas. None of the catechists was ever seen again. 3. 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. As I try to make sense of this accusation, I try to **imagine** that the two priests were seen by Bergoglio as something like "dangerous communist terrorists," or, to make the point in a different way, as dangerous pedophiles. One could imagine why, as a matter of principle, the Jesuit Superior was unwilling to let them go to another diocese--if indeed it is true that he blocked their way. If this happened, perhaps it could be justified, perhaps not, but it is another part of the reason that Bergoglio is accused of contributing to the priests' arrest.After arrest, Yorio and Jalics were taken to the ESMA (Escuela Superior de Mecnica de la Armada or Naval Petty Officers School of Mechanics), which became infamous as a detention and torture center from which many hundreds were taken and killed by drugging them and dropping them into the ocean so that their bodies would never be found. The two priests were manacled and not allowed to move or use the bathroom for five days while they were interrogated. While this was a form of torture, they were not subjected to electric shock and the other harsher tortures that were systematic under the regime. Unlike more than a thousand of those who were taken to ESMA, Yorio and Jalics survived. They were taken after five days to another location and held, manacled and blindfolded, for five more months before being dumped on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, alive. Yorio was sent to Rome and Jalics to Germany.4. 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, which is hand-written. It states the following (this is translated from Verbitsky): Jalics had dissolute activity in the women's religious congregations, conflicts of obedience, he had been detained in the ESMA for six months, accused with Fr. Yorio, he is suspected of having contacts with the guerrillas, they lived in a small community that the Jesuit Superior had dissolved in Februarly 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. Below this it says "this information was furnished 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 the government official. 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. My understanding is that these documents have been published, but I have not seen them.5. Bergoglio is accused of publishing Church documents in a book regarding the period of the Dirty War, emphasizing that they were published "without omissions." The original of at least one of the documents was subsequently found and it was seen that the published version in fact omitted text that revealed much greater complicity by the Church with the regime than the published version. My understanding is that the original version has been published, but I have not seen it.6. Bergoglio is accused of claiming that he and other Church leaders were unaware of certain thingsthat detainees were being tortured, that detainees were being murdered and disappeared without trial or acknowledgement of their detention; that babies born to detained (and soon to be disappeared) women were being given in adoption to military and police familiesduring periods when documents exist demonstrating that he and others discussed and knew about these things.7. Bergoglio is NOT accused of having helped to hide detainees from an international human rights group's visit to the torture center by taking them to a summer retreat owned by the Church and used by the Cardinal. These events took place, but Bergoglio had no role, and Horacio Verbitsky (the journalist who wrote about this and who provided the evidence for many of the accusations made in points 1-6 above) says not only was Bergoglio not part of this, it was Bergoglio himself who helped Verbitsky find the evidence that proved the Church's connection to the incident.Yorio later returned to Argentina to serve in the Diocese of Quilmes and it was he who contacted Verbitsky to denounce Bergoglio. Yorio died in 2000. Jalics remains a Jesuit in Germany and is active giving lectures and leading spiritual exercises. When contacted by Verbitsky, he confirmed Yorio's denunciations and added his own information. He said, however, that he had forgiven Bergoglio and preferred not to revisit that painful period of his life, and did not want his name to appear in print. When contacted by a second journalist, he said he would neither confirm nor deny the allegations.This was several years ago. In recent days Jalics has said something similar. He says that he has become reconciled with the events and that, for his part, he considers this a closed matter. He says he is unable to comment on the role played by Bergoglio in these events. Note: this is not an exoneration, as some have chosen to interpret it. Jalics also says that, with the permission of Bergoglio, he went with Yorio to live in the poor neighborhood, and that neither of them had any contact with the military junta or with the guerrillas. I think the inclusion of contact with the military junta may have been meant to draw a contrast with Bergoglio or with other members of the Church leadership. Jalics says that due to the lack of information and targeted misinformation at that point in time our position was open to misinterpretation within the church. He does not say who was the source of the targeted misinformation and he does not say who within the Church misinterpreted their position.Emilio Mignone, whose daughter Mnica 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" discussed above, which seems to show Bergoglio acting in defense of Fr. Jalics publicly while undermining and accusing him in secret. Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Prez Esquivel has said that Bergolgio was not one of those who were complicit with the regime, but that Bergoglio lacked the courage to defend those who being tortured and murdered by the regime.I end with a little more context: on Saturday, July 4, 1976, six weeks after the arrest of Yorio and Jalics, a military death squad went into the parish house of San Patricio and massacred the three priests and two seminarians living there. The five were in their pajamas, lined up on the floor face down, all having been shot. This became known as the Masacre de San Patricio, or St. Patricks Massacre. The death squad left two written messages. One said: "for the comrades dynamited in the Federal Security building. We will win. Long live the fatherland."[This was a reference to a guerrilla bomb attack in the cafeteria at the Federal Security building that killed 20 police officers.]The other said: "These leftists died for being indoctrinators of virgin minds and for being MSTM," MSTM being the initials of the Movement of Priests for the Third World.The concern about Bergoglio's role cannot be understood while focusing only on two Jesuit priests who survived. It must be understood that Mnica 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.

Charles Kenney, what an extraordinary amount of information. More than even I think we should heed Hans Kung's call that the pope explain fully and frankly the situation. I think that the whole mess compels a rethink of the phobia against Marxism just as the Pius XII mess compelled a rethink of the phobia against Judaism (though I do not, pace Bill Mazzella, say that the main accusations against either prelate are necessarily true).

According to Thomas Reese, S.J. provincial, Father Bergoglio was responsible for the safety of his men. He feared that Orlando Yorio, S.J., and Franz Jalics, S.J., were at risk and wanted to pull them out of their ministry. They, naturally, did not want to leave their work with the poor.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.

The issues about Marxism, liberation theology and the Catholic church are complicated to say the least with rumors and innuendoes and lies.I am not very knowledgeable about the dirty War in Argentina during the late 1970s and early 1980s. I am, however, reminded of the responses of two prominent members of the Reagan administration to the news of the rapes, torture, and murders of three American sisters and a Catholic lay worker in El Salvador on 16 December 1980. Secretary of State Alexander Haig, a Catholic and former Army general, said that he believed that the four missionaries had run a military checkpoint and had exchanged gunfire with Salvadoran military forces. United Nations Ambassador Jeane Kirkpatrick, also a Catholic, said: "I don't think the government (of El Salvador) was responsible. The nuns were not just nuns; the nuns were political activists. We ought to be a little more clear-cut about this than we usually are.

Thanks for the link to Thomas Reese's article, Helen. It seems to cast further doubt on Verbitsky. (And on Charles Kenney's point #2 in the post above yours.)(Agree about Jeane Kirkpatrick. I remember well her disgusting testimony.)



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.