[News] ‘Dirty War’ Questions for Pope Francis
news at freedomarchives.org
Thu Mar 14 11:06:43 EDT 2013
‘Dirty War’ Questions for Pope Francis
March 13, 2013
*Exclusive:* The U.S. “news” networks bubbled with excitement over the
selection of Argentine Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to be Pope Francis I.
But there was silence on the obvious question that should be asked about
any senior cleric from Argentina: What was Bergoglio doing during the
“dirty war,” writes Robert Parry.
By Robert Parry (Updated March 14, 2013, to delete incorrect reference
to Bergoglio in Guardian article)
If one wonders if the U.S. press corps has learned anything in the
decade since the Iraq War – i.e. the need to ask tough question and show
honest skepticism – it would appear from the early coverage of the
election of Pope Francis I that U.S. journalists haven’t changed at all,
even at “liberal” outlets like MSNBC.
The first question that a real reporter should ask about an Argentine
cleric who lived through the years of grotesque repression, known as the
“dirty war,” is what did this person do, did he stand up to the
murderers and torturers or did he go with the flow. If the likes of
Chris Matthews and other commentators on MSNBC had done a simple Google
search, they would have found out enough about Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio
to slow their bubbling enthusiasm.
Bergoglio, now the new Pope Francis I, has been identified publicly as
an ally of Argentine’s repressive leaders during the “dirty war” when
some 30,000 people were “disappeared” or killed, many stripped naked,
chained together, flown out over the River Plate or the Atlantic Ocean
and pushed sausage-like out of planes to drown.
The “disappeared” included women who were pregnant at the time of their
arrest. In some bizarre nod to Catholic theology, they were kept alive
only long enough to give birth before they were murdered and their
babies were farmed out to military families, including to people
directly involved in the murder of the babies’ mothers.
Instead of happy talk about how Bergoglio seems so humble and how he
seems so sympathetic to the poor, there might have been a question or
two about what he did to stop the brutal repression of poor people and
activists who represented the interests of the poor, including
“liberation theology” priests and nuns, during the “dirty war.”
Here, for instance, is an easily retrievable
story from Guardian columnist Hugh O’Shauhnessy from 2011, which states:
“To the judicious and fair-minded outsider it has been clear for years
that the upper reaches of the Argentine church contained many ‘lost
sheep in the wilderness’, men who had communed and supported the
unspeakably brutal Western-supported military dictatorship which seized
power in that country in 1976 and battened on it for years.
“Not only did the generals slaughter thousands unjustly, often dropping
them out of aeroplanes over the River Plate and selling off their orphan
children to the highest bidder, they also murdered at least two bishops
and many priests. Yet even the execution of other men of the cloth did
nothing to shake the support of senior clerics, including
representatives of the Holy See, for the criminality of their leader
General Jorge Rafael Videla and his minions.
“As it happens, in the week before Christmas  in the city of
Córdoba Videla and some of his military and police cohorts were
by their country’s courts of the murder of 31 people between April and
October 1976, a small fraction of the killings they were responsible
for. The convictions brought life sentences for some of the military.
“These were not to be served, as has often been the case in Argentina
and neighbouring Chile, in comfy armed forces retirement homes but in
common prisons. Unsurprisingly there was dancing in the city’s streets
when the judge announced the sentences.
“What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentine hierarchy
was any expression of regret for the church’s collaboration … in these
crimes. The extent of the church’s complicity in the dark deeds was
excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina’s most
notable journalists, in his book /El Silencio/ (Silence),” which
alleges Bergoglio’s complicity in human right abuses.
The Guardian article stated: “The most shaming thing for the church is
that in such circumstances Bergoglio’s name was allowed to go forward in
the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would
not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent
of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false
“One would have thought that the Argentine bishops would have seized the
opportunity to call for pardon for themselves and put on sackcloth and
ashes as the sentences were announced in Córdoba but that has not so far
happened. … Cardinal Bergoglio has plenty of time to be measured for a
suit of sackcloth – perhaps tailored in a suitable clerical grey.”
Now, instead of just putting forward Bergoglio’s name as a candidate for
Pope, the College of Cardinals has actually elected him. Perhaps the
happy-talking correspondents from the U.S. news media will see no choice
but to join in the cover-up of what Pope Francis did during the “dirty
war.” Otherwise, they might offend some people in power and put their
careers in jeopardy.
In contrast to the super-upbeat tone of American TV coverage, the New
York Times did publish a front-page analysis
the Pope’s conservatism, citing his “vigorous” opposition to abortion,
gay marriage and the ordination of women. The Times article by Emily
Schmall and Larry Rohter then added:
“He was less energetic, however, when it came to standing up to
Argentina’s military dictatorship during the 1970s as the country was
consumed by a conflict between right and left that became known as the
Dirty War. He has been accused of knowing about abuses and failing to do
enough to stop them while as many as 30,000 people were disappeared,
tortured or killed by the dictatorship.”
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