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More on Bergoglio and the Dirty War

With his permission, I'm posting this (extensive) comment by Charles Kenney (Professor of Political Science University of Oklahoma, specializing in Latin America), which appeared in the thread of my last post, because it brings together more detail and context on the Bergoglio, Dirty War issue than I've seen reported in any one place. I do also want to highlight a disagreement on a few of these points in this post by Fr. Thomas Reese. I'm not sure how consequential some of those disagreements are to the gravest questions raised, but they are worth keeping in mind. In any event, I thought Prof. Kenney's summary might provide a useful starting point for further discussion. Prof. Kenney's comment appears in full after the jump:UPDATE: I've updated the post to include an image of a government document that Prof. Kenney translates in his comment. The document lends support to Prof. Kenney's version of the passport story over certain elements of Fr. Reese's interpretation of that episode (while Fr. Reese says Bergoglio was trying to convince the government to extend the priest's passport, the document suggests that Bergoglio actually recommended that the passport not be extended). In addition, here is an article from New Republic with additional detail based on Bergoglio's testimony before an Argentine tribunal.

An unlikely St. Patricks message (see St. Patricks Massacre 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 the seven arrested the week before the priests were ever found to be involved with the guerrillas. None of the seven 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, putting them in airplanes, 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 that states the following (this is translated from the original scanned document uploaded by Verbitsky to the Pgina 12 website):Father Francisco Jalics:

  • Dissolute activity in the women's religious congregations (Conflicts of obedience)
  • Detained in the Naval Mechanical School 5/24/76 [- ] XI/76 (6 months), accused with Fr. Yorio

Suspected of guerrilla contacts

  • They lived in a small community that the Jesuit Superior dissolved in February 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.

No Bishop in Greater Buenos Aires wanted to receive them.NB: this information was furnished to Mr. Orgoyen [the government official handling the passport renewal request] 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 Orgoyen, the government official.] 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.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.According to an article published on Sunday, March 17, 2013 by Horacio Verbitsky in the Argentine newspaper Pgina 12, (I translate): Jalics has forgiven the evil they did to him. This says more about him than about Bergoglio. Jalics does not deny the events, which he narrated his 1994 book Meditation Exercises: Many people who had political convictions of the extreme right looked poorly on our presence in the slums. They interpreted the fact that we lived there as support for the guerrillas and they decided to denounce us as terrorists. We knew from where the wind blew and who was responsible for this slander. So I went to speak with the person in question and explained to him that he was playing with our lives. This man promised that he would make sure the military knew that we were not terrorists. Through later declarations by an officer and thirty documents that I was able to access we were later able to prove beyond a doubt that this man had not fulfilled his promise but that, on the contrary, he had presented a false accusation to the military.In another part of the book, he added that this person made credible the slander by virtue of his authority and testified before the officers who kidnapped us that we had worked on the scene of the terrorist action. Shortly before this I had told this person that he was playing with our lives. He should have understood that he was sending us to certain death with his declarations.Verbitsky continues:In a letter he wrote in Rome in November of 1977 to Fr. Moura, the Assistant General of the Jesuits, Orlando Yorio told the same story but replaced a person with Jorge Mario Bergoglio. recent days Jalics provided a written statement that has been translated. it Jalics says that he has become reconciled with the events that took place 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. He says he met once with Bergoglio in recent years, spoke about this, celebrated Mass together, and solemnly embraced.Note: this is not an exoneration by Jalics, 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" discovered only recently, 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 were being tortured and murdered by the regime.I end with a little more context: in the early morning hours of Sunday, July 4, 1976, as the United States celebrated its bicentennial and six weeks after the arrest of Yorio and Jalics, a military death squad went to the parish house of San Patricio and murdered the three priests and two seminarians living there. When those coming to Mass that morning investigated, they found the five men lying face down on the floor in their pajamas in a pool of blood, riddled with bullets. 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.

About the Author

Eduardo Moisés Peñalver is the Allan R. Tessler Dean of the Cornell Law School. He is the author of numerous books and articles on the subjects of property and land use law.



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There is much in Professor Kenneys post that I find troubling. Lets start with this: In this context, Bergoglio would have to have been heroic to speak out. He did not. Since we dont know what Bergoglio did or did not do behind the scenes, its a bit presumptuous to gratuitously claim, 40 years later from the comfort and safety of Americas heartland, that he did not act heroically, no?Bergoglio is accused of believing...Yes, you read that right, he is accused of believing. In other words, a provincial is wrong for allegedly believing priests in his charge may have behaved badly, and doing something about it! So, of course, if Cardinal Law believed any of his priests behaved badly in Boston, and had done something about it, he should be similarly faulted. Oh wait...

Thanks for posting this. I don't doubt it will be very unpopular.When I made a Jesuit retreat, there was a week when we dwelled upon what happened to the six Jesuits in El Salvador (link). I wonder if this is some connection between an anti-liberation theology stance and LC (Communion and Liberation) in which Francis (and JPII and Benedict) is involved. As Wikipedia states, it's ... "Regarded by many Italians during its early history to be a Catholic integralist and anti-Marxist political organization" ...

Thanks for juxtaposing the two writers' explanations, Eduardo. Reese says, "Other rumors circulating say that as archbishop, Bergoglio allowed the military to hide prisoners in an archdiocesan retreat house so that they would not be seen by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights visiting the ESMA prison. Fact: Bergoglio was not archbishop when this took place. Horacio Verbitsky, an Argentine investigative journalist, says that Bergoglio helped him investigate the case."From that, I get the impression that Thomas Reese is using Verbitsky to bolster (at least some of) his claims about Bergoglio. (Convincingly, imho.) Kenney says in his 2.: "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." And Kenney says in 7.: "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 Churchs connection to the incident."But Verbitsky, supposedly, has said that Bergoglio had expelled the two priests a week before their capture. Verbitsky is cited as a source for both sides. So which is it? Is he to be believed when his claims support the claims of Reese and/or Kenney, but not when they refute them?(I'm not challenging any of them, just asking. I find the role of the Church in the dirty war AND the reporting on it fascinating. And I think a lot more is known about it by North American journalists than has been published. If that is correct, I don't blame them. Better to be a live chicken than a dead duck.)

This is helpful. And disturbing. But what to make of the "ifs" and "it appears"? It's rather rough in form, and at times it's hard to know who is talking about whom. Also, the presentation strikes me as putting the worst possible interpretations on some matters that are at best ambiguous. That Father Begoglio in his role as provincial thirty-five years ago made mistaken, even less than courageous, decisions in a very complex situation is one thing. That this erring on the side of what he judged to be prudent links him to acts of murder and torture is, I think, a step too far. I am more persuaded by Father Tom Reese's article in NCR. (Yes, I have known Father Reese for twenty years, and greatly respect him.)

It's obvious that Yorio and Jalics had different views than Bergoglio about what they should be doing in their ministry. And that they clashed about what their ministries should be and what religious obedience required of them. But I get the feeling from some of what I've read here and on other sites that some people believe that if Bergoglio wasn't arrested, he was necessarily a collaborator. I don't believe that. And I'm very unclear as to what exactly Bergoglio could have done to prevent Yorio and Jalics from being arrested, given their activities among the poor and the regime's suspicion of that.

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.

While Yorio and Jalics believed that Bergoglio facilitated their arrest, I'm not sure why he would have done this yet later confronted Admiral Massera to demand their release, as he claims he did. That Yorio and Jalics were released alive lends credence to Bergoglio's version of events.

2. Bergoglio is accused of withdrawing his protection from Yorio and Jalics before they were arrested.

What exactly would this "protection" have consisted of? If they had had this "protection", does that mean Yorio and Jalics would not have been arrested? (Unlike, say, other Jesuits who apparently did have this protection and were still arrested?)

3. Bergoglio is accused of blocking the efforts of a sympathetic bishop to receive Yorio and Jalics.

I'm guessing that this means that Yorio and Jalics would have left the Jesuits and been incardinated as priests in the diocese of that bishop who was sympathetic to them. How exactly would this have prevented the junta from later arresting the two of them?

I don't like Kenney adding horror stories that Bergoglio had nothing to do with in any way. e.g. Dumping bodies from planes and the St Patrick's massacre among others. I call that padding the case against Bergoglio with tangential story lines. which is dismissed in any court by a judge who says 'what's the relevance of that. '???

Besides folks, the NYT ('supposed enemy of all things Catholic?] has an admiring piece about Francis

What puts me off is that people seem to accept the accusations against the Pope very uncritically, but then seem to summarily reject arguments in his defense.

"If Bergoglio withdrew his protection"This phrase has been used a number of times in these threads. What does this mean exactly? What protection did Bergoglio have to give them - in addition to ordering them out of the place where they were gravely at risk? Is it thought that the regime and/or the torture squads would not have arrested the two priests without Bergoglio's permission? Is there evidence at hand that indicates that this happened?

"What puts me off is that people seem to accept the accusations against the Pope very uncritically, but then seem to summarily reject arguments in his defense."But the opposite of this is true, as well. Polarization.

The article is an almost textual copy of the one written by Horacio Verbitsky in today's issue of Pagina 12. It fails to tell the background of Mr. Verbitsky, a former leftist terrorist who was disciplined in the communist doctrines of Fidel Castro and "Che" Guevara. Mr. Verbitsky trial for terrorist acts while a member of Montoneros was conveniently drop by the Kirchner's government in 2007 due to "statue of limitations". Mr. Verbitsky words and articles about Pope Francis are to be dismissed. If it was not by the protection of the current argentine government, Mr. Verbitsky should be in jail.

Eduardo, it is not the weakness of your arguments that bother as much as your persistence in this matter. As if to justify your faux pas in venturing here to begin with. I know there is no Santa Claus and the tooth fairy does not exist. But on a day when Francis stood outside St. Ann's church and greeted the faithful, you present us with this garbage. Yes garbage. Do you fault Jesus for rebuking Peter telling him to put his sword away? Then what is wrong with Bergoglio rebuking his priest for being too militant? And what does it prove "if" it is true that Bergoglio made errors in judgment? Like Monday morning quarterbacking. So much testimony from those who worked for the poor and yet you are looking for fault. It is a fishing expedition.

Yeah, Eduardo, don't you know this guy craps rainbows and picks up his own tab? Lay off!

I'm still not clear about the sources here. Are we still, in every case, depending ultimately upon one source for the facts of the case: the journalist Verbitsky? I am appreciative of Professor Kenney's gathering of the information from several press sources (being an expert on Peru, he could hardly come up with more original research on Argentina overnight), but do they all circle back to Verbitsky? Verbitsky may be correct, but it would be helpful to know if there's corroboration from other sources.

While the World in its entirety has only excellent reviews about Pope Francis and his work, Mr Verbitsky was the only one who is disseminating manure about Pope Francis. Well, everybody knows in Argentina who is Mr Verbitsky. His creadibility is marginal and his words and reviews are, in general, vindictive like now in the case of the new Pope. Even Nobel Price Mr Esquivel (very strong advocate of Human Rights) has dismissed all false accusations about former priest Bergoglio, including those of Verbitsky who now has two partners participating in his quest of vilifying Pope Francis. Three fishes from the same murky tank.

Does anyone know what the grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo think of the new pope? I got this link, but it's in Spanish and somewhat inaudible: text in Italian has them saying that the new pope represents fascism, dictatorship:

Here's a case. Jack gets a prominent position. Joe know that Jack has done, some years ago, something questionable. For the sake of argument , let's say that, back then, Jack has indeed done something very wrong. What is the Christian way for Joe to act? May Joe rightly say that, until Jack "comes clean" to Joe's satisfaction, he, Joe, has every right to keep bringing up what Jack did back then, and suggest that Jack is somehow not fit for his job or is not deserving of respect or is under a cloud until Joe is satisfied or whatever? By contrast, we see in today's Gospel Jesus dealing with someone caught in flagrante, committing adultery. There were a bunch of Joe's ready to test Jesus, wondering if he would be as righteous as they were about her. Whatever Pope Francis did or didn't do when he was 39 years old, who could rightly feel entitled to pass judgment on his present fitness for his office. Maybe, maybe someone wholly without sin of their own. No one else, so far as I can see.As the priest as mass today said: " We love to look at the sins of others. They reassure us and allow us to ignore our own sins. I know all the arguments about "transparency" and "openness." Important as is the point they make, they do not, at the end of the day, amount to licenses to claim without further ado the moral high ground in judging the moral character of anyone other than ourselves.

Quick background from an excellent source on the current Argentinian government and broader historical Peronist movement for context on Bergoglio's relationship with the Kirchners:

Sorry, I missed a few quotation marks above.. I trust that what I've said is clear. Whether it is right or not is of course another matter.

No need to ask for clarity on facts when someone is caught "in flagrante", is there?But say that your spouse may or may not have committed adultery. Even if you were going to forgive her anyway, still, wouldn't you want to know?

The Joe and Jack parable equally applies to bishops involved in sex abuse scandals, but no one applies it there. The old Romans were well aware that scandals are unquenchable, which is why one had to be "above suspicion". Modern communications make it impossible to keeps all the dirty linen hidden away, so we need to develop a new ethic of understanding and forgiveness. But how? In any case, the parable presupposes that Bergoglio is not blameless, whereas he may well be blameless.

That skimpy piece on Peronism is not particularly enlightening. Is there any evidence that Bergoglio is politically an anti-Peronist? He might be very happy with Peronists if they respected his authority more.

"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."Can a provincial expel a Jesuit from the community. I am under the impression that can be done only by the Father General in Rome.

Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo is a group created to represent and defend the rights of the "magnificent group of young people who were murdered by the military regime while fighting for freedom and democracy". Two things must be strongly rejected and repudiated: The terrorist acts perpetuated with great loss of innocent lives by this "magnificent group of young people" (all members of the AAA and Montonero guerilla groups) and, on the other hand, the abominable methodology used by the military to control the terrorism. During these tragic years, neither the military nor the terrorists had any regard for human rights. A great tragedy that will continue to divide Argentina for years to come. As time went by, Madres y Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo lost their original luster and purpose, gradually becoming institutions of the "kirchner political predicament" plagued with miscontrol, incompetence and corruption. Now, there voices and statements had lost pragmatisim, intelectual authority and respect. Their assessment of Pope Francis have the same validity of those of Mr.Verbitsky.

As I interpret Francis behavior so far, he was a man in a horrible situation who had to make prudential judgments that may or may not have been wise or even fair. I might add, however, that if he did lie to save someone's life I would not fault him, and if he lied to somehow protect the work of the Church, I also would not fault him for that. Perhaps he was weak. But it is also quite possible that his accusers have exagerated his faults, which perhaps would also be understandable. It remains to be seen if he will be strong in the future, but I am hopeful. His love of the poor seems uncontested.No doubt many books will be written about this history. The questions we are all asking might never be answered to our satisfaction because the evidence is too often a matter of he said-she said evidence. One's own testimony about one's own interest is never extremely strong (unless it costs the speaker a lot in some way), and, unfortunately there are liars in this world, and some of them are highly respected people. (I once heard a highly-respected person lie under oath!) So we'll never have any certainty about what happened in the '70's. In any event, there is a huge lesson to be learned from all this: it is possible that a person be weak and strong, good and bad, wise and unwise in different ways. It is also possible to change with the grace of God. If Francis needs forgiveness, I'm sure he'll find it. And I'm still hopeful, no matter his faults and sins, he might end up a great pope in spite of any prior misjudgments or sins. Think of St. Peter.

"While Yorio and Jalics believed that Bergoglio facilitated their arrest, Im not sure why he would have done this yet later confronted Admiral Massera to demand their release, as he claims he did. That Yorio and Jalics were released alive lends credence to Bergoglios version of events."William L. --Excellent point. Where's the "complicity" in this? Telling his priests not to continue a ministry is NOT telling the junta it is OK to kidnap and torture them.I am constantly amazed at the way some people make a connection between two events in their imaginations and then conclude that there is some real causal relation between them. They go from "Maybe X!" to "It's a fact!!". Totally irrational.

Bill Mazzella:Not that anyone cares (and not that anyone oughtto care), thank you brother. I think you are wrong about a lot of things, but when the nitty meets the gritty, you're always there.God Bless

We return to the Lord. The Lord never tires of forgiving us, never! We are the ones who get tired of asking forgiveness. Let us ask for the grace to never tire of asking forgiveness, because he never tires of forgiving us.This is one of the most beautiful things I have ever read.

The failures of the Argentinian Bishops and Church are well known during the 1970's etc. Perhaps, being so much more influenced by the memories of the Spanish civil war - the then church leadership's fear of communism was very deep in their psyches. Those were very dangerous times and Paul V1 even had to remove the eventual Cardinal Pironio to Rome to save his life. Pironio was an exception amongst the Argentinian Bishops. But we can't forget that not all leftists at that time were without fault...mistakes were made by them as well. Huge mistakes - that many of them now admit. Mistakes that were part of the spiral of violence that Dom Helder spoke of...So it is simply unjust to scapegoat today the then young Jesuit provincial Fr if he must prove to us his 'innocence'.So yes, the Argentinians were not the prophetic Brazilian church of that period. Maybe Fr Bergoglio made mistakes. However, we also need to remember that people can grow and develop. His close friendship with Franciscan Cardinal Hummes of Sao Paulo - himself a great defender of human rights at that time and then Bergoglio's long personal witness of solidarity with the poor - vouch for considerable authenticity For what it's worth I had the privilige of organising their visits to Australia in the 1980's and speaking for several hours to - Dom Helder Camara; Dom Paulo Evaristo Arns and Dom Luciano Mendes de Almeida sj about the issue of human rights . They were human rights prophets and very courageous but they all cautioned me about making simplistic judgements from afar about Argentina and indeed Central America at the time .I especially remember Dom Helder saying that he hoped that he would be not judged by some aspects of his past - he mentioned his flirtation with fascism as a young priest in his 30's. Dom Helder openly confessed he made mistakes in his past - serious mistakes - but because he actually started living with poor people in Recife he was 'converted'.Perfect people need not apply for leadership or membership - in the church . We now have a Pope who - whatever the fog of the 1970's in Argentina - clearly has grown and developed because he loves the poor.I, for one, pray to Dom Helder each day and I am sure he is delighted his Brother Pope Francis has become our Pastor in chief. Like Dom Helder and all of us - he is a sinner but the election of a man who grown especially through love of the poor fills me with joy. Let the prophets of doom here and elsewhere give Pope Francis at least a chance to act ...I am confident he will not disappoint Dom Helder or the rest of us.

You can read some bits of what one of the Jesuit priests that was kidnapped, Franz Jalics, wrote about the situation in a book in this article = Argentinas Dirty War Casts a Pall Over Bergoglio. He didn't mention names but it's interesting still.

Maybe Eduardo is playing Devils Acvocate. That things may be thrashed out once and for all and let Francis lead. Certainly, Eduardo's prodding has led to some clarification which can be a good thing. Jesus prayed that all may be one. This bishop of Rome lights up that prayer and inspires all of us to explain and live out the hope that is in us. Francis reminds one of Jesus; mercy over sacrifice, come to me all who are burdened, healing, forgiveness. John XXIII never tired of saying: "The mercies of the Lord endure forever." Francis got our hearts which can only be effective through Jesus. May grace super abound where sin abounded.

I know that comments on THIS site will not be the final word on this matter, but I am very pleased to see the give and take. The worst thing that could happen would be to instantly raise this man to quasi-sainthood just because he has been elected pope. The truth shall make us free, remember? But no one has ever said that it wouldn't be painless not simply easy.Francis will be better known in this church and the rest of the world once this has been cussed and discussed to death. Then he can move on to his major (but not only by far) real challenge: cleaning out the augean stables know as the Curia.If that doesn't happen he will be in charge of a defeated papacy before he ever gets it off the ground when it comes to other issues.

Bleaming former cardenal Bergoglio of not trying to defend or protect Yorio and Jelics is like bleaming him of not trying to stop the assassination of General Aramburu by Fernando Abal Medina, a fervent catholic, founder of the Montoneros. Abal Medina and Verbitsky are "coreligionists" of the Montonero terrorist group.

As some one who believed the much used charge/argument that bishops covered up for abusing priests because the priests had an obedience vow to the bishop and a bishop thought that all his priests were like his sons. Also a Bishop was so formed that he would stretch any law to 'protect' his errant sons. Just like I would for my five sons.. Now we are supposed to swallow whole a secularist journalist's s claims the a provincial leader would turn over his 'sons' to a fascist sadist killer , an Argentine military officer .. and for what ? some kind of payback or theological dispute or difference with the bishop's 'sons' about the proper pastoral stance toward the poor? Give me break.. .

I dont understand why this horse continues to be beaten. The dirty war in Argentina was a time of terror. At the time Bergoglio was NOT a bishop, he was a provincial. What protection did he have to offer any of the Jesuits other than what was possible if they lived in their usual quarters---parishes and chaplaincies? I think its irresponsible to assert that there are documents which demonstrate that Bergoglio and other religious leaders knew about the various methods of torture when these documents are not provided. The assertions of one journalist really have to be corroborated by others. Without such corroboration, these allegations are empty. Opinion is NOT evidence.

We seem to be getting two types of additional "confirmatory" evidence, either in the main presentation or in the comments:1. Stories that repeat basically the same information already published elsewhere over the past three days. This begins to get tedious.2. New evidence that ends up in hopeless tangles and blind alleys. I am trying to read everything presented, but the more I read the more confused I become.---At one point in Professor Kenney's account, there is a very contradictory and garbled note, taken from a document, that says that Father Jalics was expelled from the Society of Jesus in March 1976, but then it goes on to say that he could not be expelled because he had made solemn vows. This is double talk. I agree with Helen that a Jesuit in solemn vows (a professed Father) could only be expelled by the Father General. One thing we know for sure is that Father Jalics is still a Jesuit.

Here is Fr. Jalics most recent statement dated March 15. He says that after their arrest he and Yorio were interrogated for five days, and that the officer who conducted the investigation told them that they were innocent and would be returned to the neighborhood in Buenos Aires, where they had been living. Nevertheless, they were held for another five months. He says he has no position on Bergoglio's role in the events of the past, and that he and Yorio had reconciled with Bergoglio, celebrated a public Mass together, and embraced each other. He concludes by wishing God's blessing on his papacy.

It seems clear that Fr. Jalics has recently forgiven Francis, but that doesn't really speak to what Francis may have done in the past. The excerpts from Fr. Jalics' 1994 book are pretty disturbing ....

What do people think Bergoglio should have done as provincial? Two priests were working with people who were being arrested by the government. This may have, I conjecture here, meant a threat to all Jesuits in Argentina; the order being suppressed by largely conservative bishops of Argentina; the priests drifting away from the Society leading toward dissolution; others? B. was chosen by the Master general ( Arrupe?) to take charge of the province, and probably also by the local Jesuits? Why? What was he being asked to do? Would that mission be served by "protecting" Jesuits who in effect had said their particular ministry was more important to them than the Jesuits?As presented, the case seems too narrowly focussed on the two brothers and the dirty war, without considering either the Jesuit community or the larger Church community. What we do know is that neither detainee died, unlike many other detainees, and the Jesuits remained in Argentina to become powerful voice for the poor as seen in B's promotion to the episcopacy. Without some convincing description of what else should have been done, I am inclined toward accepting B's actions as reasonable,

One thing we know for sure is that Father Jalics is still a Jesuit.John, If Jalics and and Yorio had not been expelled from the Society, another strange thing is that various reporters say things like this: "After their detainment, Yorio and Jalics were offered reinstatement into the Jesuit order. Jalics accepted, but Yorio did not."And this: "The priests complained of Bergoglio to Superior General Pedro Arrupe in Rome. But they had already been expelled from the Jesuit order, allegedly due to contact with woman and 'conflicts of obedience.'" if only Arrupe could have expelled them from the Society, why didn't Thomas Reese mention that in his NCR article? He said, "Contrary to rumor, [Bergoglio] 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." could have put an end to the "rumor" immediately by simply providing chapter and verse from canon law and the constitutions of the order that say it is impossible for a provincial to expel a member, etc.Agree that the "note" is strange. Who were the women religious with whom Jalics was . . . doing whatever he was doing? Were they disciplined? Did they survive the dirty war?

The idea that Jesuits in the 70s/80s in Latin America were considered to have gone off the rails because they'd put themselves in danger by working with the poor seems not very believable given the response of Arrupe to threats made against Jesuits there. Hence the number of well respected Jesuit martyrs of that time/place.

(Not to forget also the female martyrs of same like Jean Donovan)

Here is another view which claims Verbitsky is doing the Kirchen's governments bidding. Here are some relevant paragraphs.Instead the Kirchner government's pit bulls in journalismmen such as Horacio Verbitsky, a former member of the guerrilla group known as the Montoneros and now an editor at the pro-government newspaper Pagina 12immediately began a campaign to smear the new pontiff's character and reputation at home and in the international news media.The calumny is not new. Former members of terrorist groups like Mr. Verbitsky, and their modern-day fellow travelers in the Argentine government, have used the same tactics for years to try to destroy their enemiesanyone who doesn't endorse their brand of authoritarianism. In this case they allege that as the Jesuits' provincial superior in Argentina in the late 1970s, then-Father Bergoglio had links to the military government.

I admit that I am not a very tech-savvy guy. So I understand that there may be a technical reason for what I want to ask about here.I can see the website feature that allows me to print out Eduardo Penalver's lengthy opening statement to this thread, in which he quotes Prof. Massey's comments at length. I have printed out Eduardo's lengthy opening statement.However, I do NOT a comparable website feature here that would allow me to print out all the comments in this thread, as I would like to be able to do.So could the powers that be who are in charge of this website possibly add a new print-out feature that would allow us to print out all the comments on a given thread?As I say, I know that I do not know the technicalities that would be involved.

Thomas, Right click and click print.

Thanks for sharing more information on a very difficult question. I still am not sure how to respond, though I would have hoped that the future pope would have been more forthright in support of the poor and in opposition to government repression. Sad to say, too many church leaders take the careful road in difficult times.For another perspective I have translated an interview with Jesuit theologian Jon Sobrino who escaped martyrdom with his companions in El Salvador. original Spanish is here: how the headline misquotes Sobrino, making the future pope seem insensitive to the poor. This is something that needs to be avoided in the current flap.

I've read a good deal about this issue and I have come to a couple of conclusions. First is that we may never know exactly what went on. Second, I am inclined to agree with Fr. Reese's assessment that some people are saints and martyrs, some are collaborators and most just do what they can and try to keep their heads down. While in a perfect world, we would like to think that a future pope would have stood up to the junta, in the real world he did not, but rather, chose to act in a very human way. He did what he felt he could do without putting himself at too much risk.

Thanks, Mr. Dunn - well said. May I add:- as others have remarked - we have a journalist who appears to have an ax to grind - other sources?- as John Page said well - guessing at the age of 39 and faced with two of his own priests demanding to leave the Jesuits, it was a confusing time and the issue may have had more to do with community needs, issues, etc. than a focus on prophetic proclamations at that time. Agree - as provincial, he may have given them communications about dismissal but that would have to be confirmed from Rome. That takes time - some planned and deliberate to allow passions to cool; some unplanned - it just happens. This would have been a final step in negotiations - guessing that there were passions on both sides- some compare to Romero - keep in mind that El Salvador, Guatemala, Mexico, Chile, Brazil, Argentina, Nicaragua were each different. Romero at the age of Bergoglio was an ardent conservative, part of the hierarchy aligned with regimes, etc. It took a conversion experience late in life for Romero's stand- the same goes for those quoting liberation theology - liberation theology means different things and how to live and implement were expressed differently even in the same countries.

"It is easier to disintegrate an atom than disintegrate a malicious story" Albert Einstein

Jim Dunn, Thanks for your comments. I would just add - While in a perfect world, we would like to think that a future pope would have stood up to the junta - such a stand makes it more likely he would not have survived to be pope.

"While in a perfect world, we would like to think that a future pope would have stood up to the junta, in the real world he did not, but rather, chose to act in a very human way. He did what he felt he could do without putting himself at too much risk."Based on what is being reported, I'm not prepared to damn him with this faint praise.

1) It's interesting that Pope Francis identifies Jorge Luis Borges, who also lived in Buenos Aires, as one of his favorite authors (along with Dostoevsky). Borges was also judged guilty of the crime of "not doing enough." Until "enough" is specified the charge is an apparently irresistibly cheap one and grossly irresponsible, IMHO.2) For those who want to make sure they are doing "enough" now here's a suggestion relevant to abuses from both leftist and rightist regimes:"Church-organized human-rights groups and justice-and-peace commissions became common features in Central America, Chile, and elsewhere in Latin America during the military dictatorships of the 1980s, and they were indispensable to advancing rights and freedoms. We need similar groups in many Middle Eastern, Asian, and African countries today. If the promise of Dignitatis Humanae is to be fulfilled, it is crucial that the laity be trained to document religious persecution and other human-rights abuses."

Jim Pauwels,It was not my intent to damn him and I hope it didn't come out that way. My view is that he was very human-- not evil, but not saintly. And that actually gives me some hope for this papacy.

"He did what he felt he could do without putting himself at too much risk.Or maybe he did what he thought was best for the safety of the entire Jesuit Community in Argentina and this was his primary responsibility.

Jim Dunn - I also have a lot of hope for this papacy, and I'm glad you're able to draw hope from these historical events.

"Thomas, Right click and click print."I think between the right click and "print" one has to click on "select all.""While in a perfect world, we would like to think that a future pope would have stood up to the junta, in the real world he did not, but rather, chose to act in a very human way. He did what he felt he could do without putting himself at too much risk."Pius XII redux?

Jim - there is no comparison between the events in Nazi Germany, Pius XII who was the Vatican agent who signed the Vatican-Germany concordat, and the years that built up to WWII and the Argentine dirty war and the role of Bergoglio over a small Jesuit province.BTW - the German concordat sold the German Democratic Party and most catholic bishops down the river in the name of Vatican politics. And this was years before any hint of the holocaust.Have you given any thought to the reality that Bergoglio may have wanted to keep his Jesuit priests from being aligned with either side but especially guerillas who were committing atrocities and thus weakening, if not destroying any credibility that he would have had as provincial?

Surely all of this matters greatly. As I understand it, the Catholic belief is that the Cardinals-Elector seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit in selecting the Pope. Their discernment of the guidance of the Spirit then is a central issue.Perhaps the proper way to look at the Argentine situation in the 1970s comes from the choice of Francis of Assisi as an inspiration for the new Pope. Francis was one of a long line of the Churchs greatest human servants Paul, Augustine and Francis are known even to me - whom we remember as guidance in our lives not for their youth and early actions (quite the contrary), but for what they became. Those who have not had to work in time and place of war typically misunderstand what that involves, and how difficult it can be to return to the world ready and able to contribute positively. That is not an excuse for wrong actions in time of war, just a reminder that we are should be slow to judge.Were the Conclave to have selected a true fascist, a betrayer of his companions, we would have a terrible dilemma: how could the Holy Spirit have led the Electors in that path? If the Conclave, instead chose a man who has used the hard lessons of his youth to help him formulate a life of service and humility, an understanding of how the Church can serve in todays world, we (all Christians and indeed all people of good will) will celebrate the epiphany offered to, and discerned by, the Conclave in 2013.Mark

Gratitude to John Page, Gerelyn, Bill deHaas and many other commenters. The range of information is very helpful. Such a full airing of the record with comparisons of sources will hopefully resolve some questions. My faith in Pope Francis is sustained, though it is certainly instructive how the charges may be used. Someone mentioned too many "if's" and I agree.I am more and more convinced that Horatio Verbitsky, former member of the Montoneros guerilla group, publisher now of the newspaper Pagina 12, and inveterate critic of Pope Francis, lacks credibility. Argentine president Kirchners government is now pressuring merchants, under threat of reprisals, not to buy advertising in newspapers. The only newspapers that aren't on track to be financially ruined by this intimidation are those that the government controls and finances through official advertising, like Mr. Verbitsky's Pagina 12. Argentines refer to the paper as "the official gazette" because it so reliably prints the government's line. Intellectually honest observers with firsthand knowledge of Argentina under military rule (1976-1983) are telling a much different story than the one pushed by Mr. Verbitsky and his ilk. One of those observers is Adolfo Prez Esquivel, winner of the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize. Last week he told BBC Mundo that "there were bishops that were complicit with the dictatorship, but Bergoglio, no." As to the charge that the priest didn't do enough to free junta prisoners, Mr. Prez Esquivel said: "I know personally that many bishops who asked the military government for the liberation of prisoners and priests and it was not granted." Former Judge Alicia Oliveira, who was herself fired by the military government and forced into hiding to avoid arrest, told the Argentine newspaper Perfil last week that during those dark days she knew Father Bergoglio well and that "he helped many people get out of the country." In one case, she says there was a young man on the run who happened to look like the Jesuit. "He gave him his identification card and his [clergy attire] so that he could escape." Ms. Oliveira also told Perfil that when she was in hiding at the home of the current minister of security, Nilda Garr, the two of them "ate with Bergoglio." As Ms. Oliveira pointed out, Ms. Garr "therefore knows all that he did." Graciela Fernndez Meijide, a human-rights activist and former member of the national commission on the disappearance of persons, told the Argentine press last week that "of all the testimony I received, never did I receive any testimony that Bergoglio was connected to the dictatorship."

Carolyn, thank you for running this down so comprehensively!

For more context, there were articles yesterday about Francis supporting the canonization process for Franciscans killed in the Dirty Wars: at the Vatican Inside of La Stampa, says that Francis expressed a desire that these be the first people he beatifies, while other articles cite inaction by Bergoglio.As I understand it, the Jesuits were kidnapped in May 1976 and released 5 months later. The Franciscans were kidnapped in July 1976 and killed that day. Their bishop was forced off the road coming back from a service for the three victims, and killed. This bishop had a long history of involvement with unions and other groups promoting change in Argentina.

This may be too late, but is relevant:Priest kidnapped by junta: not denounced by pope"The fact is: Orlando Yorio and I were not denounced by Father Bergoglio."(Fr. Francisco) Jalics said "false information was spread" at the time that he and Yorio had gone to the slums because they were part of a guerrilla movement - and he suspects those rumors were the reason why the priests weren't freed immediately."I myself was once inclined to believe that we were the victims of a denunciation," Jalics said. But "at the end of the 90s, after numerous conversations, it became clear to me that this suspicion was unfounded. It is therefore wrong to assert that our capture took place at the initiative of Father Bergoglio."

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