[News] Can God Forgive Jorge Mario Bergoglio?
news at freedomarchives.org
Wed Mar 20 19:40:26 EDT 2013
March 20, 2013
The Pope and the General: a CounterPunch Special Investigation
Can God Forgive Jorge Mario Bergoglio?
by NANCY SCHEPER-HUGHES
/Dedicated to Jack Kernaghan, SJ./
There are sins and there are mortal sins. There are crimes and there are
heinous crimes. Finally, there are abominations, sins so violent and
godless that they cried out to heaven for vengeance--or so I was taught
in catechism class in Brooklyn in the 1950s.
Today some of those abominations would fall under the secular judicial
category of war crimes and crimes against humanity. But, we were told,
all human transgressions, even the most heinous and abominable, can be
forgiven by God. This is the solid bedrock of Roman Catholic doctrine on
the question of sin, confession and forgiveness. It would be
vainglorious and prideful to assume that any human act, no matter how
egregious, could trump or surpass the absolute and limitless Divine
Mercy of God. But there are conditions to be met. First, the penitent
must make a full, detailed, and complete confession. No dirty, little
secrets can be held back in the confessional.
("Bless me father for I have sinned"). This includes an admission of
personal guilt and responsibility ("/Mea culpa, mea maxima culpa/" ---
it was my fault, my most grievous fault). The confession must be
followed by a sincere act of contrition. ("I am sorry for these sins
because they offend Thee, my God, and Your infinite goodness"). Lastly,
absolution and forgiveness requires the expression of firm resolve to
sin no more and to resist the temptations to do evil.
Thus, even the most heinous crimes against humanity committed by the
generals and their henchmen during the Argentine dirty war (1973-1982)
could technically be forgiven and erased. The /Proceso de
Reorganización/ (the military dictatorship's name for the war) turned
ordinary people into enemies of the state and waged a war through the
process of /limpieza/, a political cleansing of dangerous and dirty
elements, subversives, beginning with leftist guerrillas, those
suspected of supporting the left, union leaders, university students,
artists, writers, journalists, psychoanalysts, nuns and priests who
lived and worked with the poor, and then going after the politically
neutral, the unaligned, until finally the crazy generals went after the
The tactics were ruthless: kidnapping in broad daylight,
disappearances, interrogations, sadistically creative forms of
torture, (abusing children in front of their parents, torturing wives in
front of husbands) and murder, hundreds of the alleged 30,000 by means
of drugging and dropping living bodies into the sea from planes and
The Dirty War created a culture of terror and a space of death that
silenced the surviving and trembling majority and that made a mockery of
the legal, judicial, commercial, and religious institutions, inviting
them to be active co-conspirators in what could be called an
ultra-orthodox Catholic jihad.
Among the tens of thousands of victims were 150 Catholic priests who did
not bend, as well as hundreds of nuns, lay catechists, and religious
persons who embraced the post-Vatican II 1968 Medellin (Colombia)
Conference of Latin American Bishops who agreed that the Catholic
Church should realign itself by declaring a "preferential option for
the poor", and calling for the creation of fairly autonomous "base
communities" in which the poor would learn to read and to interpret the
Bible in a new way, as a path toward building more humane, more
equitable, more inclusive societies that conformed to the humble example
of Jesus and his disciples, their love of the poor, in particular.
The Latin American bishops wanted the poor to know that Jesus did not
want them to suffer and to die from hunger, poverty, and neglect, that
life itself was a Christian value, and death, while inevitable, was not
the sum of a persons' existential /raison d'etre. / Beyond that the
Latin American bishops recognized social justice as a primary moral
value of the universal Catholic Church. Suddenly "love thy neighbor as
thyself" meant something very different. A small revolution occurred in
Latin America, as nuns left the cloisters and joined the working-class
poor, as religious habits, elaborate vestments were exchanged for blue
jeans and simple cotton dresses held together with safety pins and
sturdy black shoes exchanged for rustic sandals.
Liberation theology and the spread of activist 'base communities' was
targeted by the Argentine military dictators, led by General Jorge
Videla. A devout Catholic, Videla was influenced by the
ultra-conservative philosophy of Opus Dei, an international
right-leaning (proto-fascist) Catholic organization, better described as
a social movement.
Opus Dei, founded in Spain in the 1920s, was modeled after the Society
of Jesus, who were known as 'God's Marines'. Opus Dei called for a
'church militant,' one that was aristocratic, paternalistic, and
baroque, its ideology stressing purity, familism, loyalty to home and
nation, and obedience to the Pope. The Society of Jesus may be 'God's
soldiers', but Jesuit 'militancy' bears no resemblance to the cult of
The foot soldiers of Opus Dies in Argentina were drawn from a larger and
more ideologically diffuse internationalist movement known as Catholic
Action, an international call to young Catholics worldwide to stand
tall and proud in defending key values of the Church and to make a
difference in the world. Catholic Action meant different things to
different people in different countries at different times, lending
itself to socialist or to fascist political parties.
What it meant to me as a high school student at the Our Lady of Wisdom
Academy in South Ozone Park Queens in 1960 when I marched as a standard
bearer in a counter-May Day parade proclaiming Catholic Action, remains
a mystery. But to this day I can sing the militant anthem we sang:
/An Army of Youth flying the standard of truth./
/We are fighting for Christ the Lord./
/Heads lifted high, Catholic Action our cry,/
/And the cross our only sword./
/On earth's battlefield, never advantage we'll yield,/
/As dauntlessly on we sing,/
/Comrades true, dare and do,/
/'Neath the Queen's [Virgin Mary] White and Blue./
/For our flag, for our faith, for Christ the King./
/Christ lifts his hand, the King commands,/
/His challenge, "Come and follow me"/
/From every side, with eager stride,/
/We form in the lines of victory./
/Let foemen lurk, and laggards shirk/
/We throw our fortunes with the Lord./
/Mary's Son, til the world is won,/
/We have pledged You our loyal word./
In Brazil, a young man who later became the beloved little 'red'
Archbishop of Recife, Dom Helder Camara, in the 1960s began his
political life as a young, impassioned participant in the Catholic
Action movement in the slums of Brazil in the 1920s and 1930s. In
Argentina, Catholic Action was associated with a Peronist 'Catholic
populism' of the sort associated with Jorge Mario's earlier years as a
There are many paradoxes. A guerrilla movement, calling themselves the
/Montoneros /(named after the 19^th century gauchos who resisted
pro-British liberals), had its origins in the Catholic Action Peronist
Youth movements. Monteneros in the 1970s worked closely with "worker
priests" (another movement) in social work camps in rural areas. The
original Monteneros aspired to many of the same social gospel principles
of liberation theology, at least until the Monteneros radicalized and
went underground. At the same time small Marxist guerrilla bands
formed, including the ERP, the Peoples Revolutionary Army and the FAR,
the Revolutionary Army, inspired by Cuban, Chinese and Vietnamese
The military coup of 1973 and General Videla's dirty war arose out of
this socio-political crucible, one in which radical ideologies--
Marxist, Socialist, Fascist, and Catholic--clashed and sometimes
converged. The meteoric rise to Ecclesiastical power of Jorge Mario
Bergogio, began simultaneously with the rise of Videla in 1973, with
Bergoglio's appointment as Provincial, head of the Society of Jesus in
Argentina. He was young, just four years after ordination to the
priesthood. His appointment could be described as being the right man at
the right place in the right time, or -- for those who suffered the
catastrophe of the dirty war -- as the wrong man in the wrong time at
the wrong place.
As Horatio Verbitsky, the unauthorized biographer of Jorge Mario
Bergogio, has described him, Bergoglio is a blend of seemingly
irreconcilable dispositions. On the one hand, he is a man of the people,
known in Buenos Aires as the Cardinal who dressed simply and traveled
incognito by bus and subway. He showed compassion for the 'common
man', the ordinary worker whose dignity had been challenged by so many
decades of political and economic instability.
No doubt the College of Cardinals was impressed with Bergoglios'
modesty, his austerity /and/ his bedrock conservative theological and
social agendas. In Argentina, Cardinal Bergoglio was a bulldog of the
Vatican, even though he spent little time there. He was close to
Benedict XVI, and graciously bowed out and stepped down as candidate
for pope in 2005, deferring to Cardinal Ratsinger. There is speculation
that Benedict may have even let it be known, before his resignation,
that Bergoglio was his preferred successor. The alacrity of the vote
suggests as much. Moreover, like Benedict, the former Jesuit Provincial,
Archbishop, and Cardinal of Buenos Aires espoused a rigid and
fundamentalist interpretation of Catholic doctrine and social morality.
As Jesuit Provincial in Argentina, Bergoglio shaped the Argentine
Society of Jesus in his own image and likeness, and in so doing he
isolated the Argentine Company of Jesus from the rest of Latin America,
if not the world. He was a controversial and divisive religious leader
who provoked a severe rift in the Society of Jesus between priests who
were ready to challenge the dictatorship's gross violations of basic
human rights and those clerics, old and young, who followed their
Provincial leaders's attempts to distance themselves from politics.
Bergoglio espoused an insular theology of pious sacramentalism, an
almost medieval mystical spirituality, detached from, and incapable of
responding to the political repression. While praising traditional
pastoral ministries to the poor, visiting and caring for the sick,
feeding the hungry, burying the dead, as a proper Christian mission,
Bergoglio condemned the formation of ecclesiastical base communities in
which the Scriptures were read in a Marxist key as a 'pedagogy for the
oppressed', as Paulo Freyre phrased it. Words like 'liberation',
'structural violence'/, 'conscientizaçao' /(the Brazilian key word
signifying the awakening of a critical consciousness ) were not
acceptable and Bergoglio cautioned the Jesuits to reject the false
theology of liberation, and to avoid contact with those who used the
scriptures to politicize and empower the poor. This was dangerous. It
could be viewed by powerful sectors of Argentine society as 'subversive'.
The militancy of the Jesuits is renowned and is anything other than
detached, insulated, or rigidly conservative. Jesuits are taught to be
open to the world, like their knight-errant founding Father Ignatius.
They often cut a dashing figure while preferring to work from behind the
scenes. Jesuits are taught to be worldly, argumentative, and to welcome
a good debate. (The French philosopher Simone Weil told her brother that
she had once kept a Jesuit up for hours in a most burdensome
conversation: "God had put me here to do this to the Jesuits, to drive
them to distraction").
The founder of the Jesuits, Saint Ignatius Loyola, a wounded soldier
turned university scholar, joined with several other brilliant students
at the University of Paris in 1534 to found the Society (or the Company)
of Jesus. Their mission was to bring Jesus's teachings to the furthest
reaches of the world, to educate the poor but also the wealthy, to found
schools, universities, and hospitals. As God's soldiers, Jesuits are
willing to sacrifice their lives, if necessary. Jesuit training requires
some twelve years of study and preparation. The curriculum requires the
cultivation of physical and moral discipline, soldierly obedience to
orders, courage, flexibility --- a readiness to accept a new assignment
anywhere in the world) and dedicated scholarship. Every Jesuit priest
has a doctoral degree, in addition to an advanced degree in theology.
While pledging loyalty to the Pope, the symbol of their universalism and
global mission, Jesuits pride themselves on their independence, their
freedom to engage, when necessary, in 'loyal opposition' to Church
hierarchies when they veer from the teachings of Jesus.
Bergoglio led the Jesuits in Argentina at one of the most politically
volatile epochs in contemporary Latin American history amidst political
conflicts that swept through Central and South America in 1970s and
1980s, from Mexico, El Salvador, Guatemala to Peru, Colombia and Brazil.
The Jesuits arose as a strong presence in defending the political and
human rights of peasants, indigenous peoples and the urban poor.
In Nicaragua, Guatemala, and El Salvador Jesuits positioned themselves
on the side of those who were persecuted by right wing military
dictatorships. They did so at their own risk.
In El Salvador, Oscar Romero, who was trained in Jesuit philosophy, was
a socially and politically conservative priest who experienced a
conversion of sorts after being appointed Archbishop of San Salvador in
the midst of an American supported counter-insurgency war. Romero took
off his glasses and looked around him. He witnessed Salvador's own dirty
war being waged by the military against their political opponents. He
surprised the Catholic world when he put his body and his voice between
himself and his parishioners to defend the rights of people to resist
their oppressors. Romero was murdered by a death squad assassin while
celebrating Mass in his cathedral on March 24 1980. This heinous crime
was followed in 1989, by the execution of six Jesuit scholars and
priests who were murdered at San Salvador's Universidad Centroamericana
by hit men commissioned by Salvadoran Army officers. Pity the nation
that requires heroes of ordinary men! But heroes these Jesuits were.
/Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Francis) giving spiritual comfort, the
Body of Christ ['Amen'] to any elderly and frail Jorge Videla, the
political architect of the Dirty War, with whom Bergoglio had met
secretly in 1976. In Bergoglio's version he met to intervene on behalf
of two disappeared Jesuits, a story contested by one the Jesuits who
accused Bergogio of handing him over to his torturers./
*The Pope and the Dirty War *
No sooner was he elected Pope, than Bergoglio's activities and his
history during the dirty war dominated the media putting a damper on
what should have been wild celebrations among Catholics world-wide.
Benedict XVI was not much loved by the world's Catholics, except
possibly the members of the Vatican Curia. Few tears were shed as he was
helicoptered off to a private castle-like temporary residence.
Pope Francis the First was a first in many respects -- the first Latino
pope, the first pope from the global South, the first Jesuit Pope, the
first pope to name himself after the beloved Saint Francis, who was
never a Pope at all. Pope Francis has both /dignitas/ and the common
touch. He refused the papal throne, he pays his hotel bills, and he
wears plain black shoes rather than pink slippers. He asked to be
blessed before raising his arm to bless the multitude. All good signs
of a pope who might signal a move away from the pomp and circumstance of
the out-of-touch royal aristocratic 'popery'.
Then came the allegations concerning the former Jesuit Provincial's
'timid' behavior toward the military dictatorship as Argentina veered
into a state of total warfare against an estimated 30,000 citizens
suspected of harboring subversive desires (if not acts) who were
disappeared (kidnapped), tortured, and murdered in a paranoid
/limpieza/, a social-political cleansing so fierce, so arbitrary, so
ugly that some of military officials ordered to carry out the
executions became ill and went to their priests for advice.
Unfortunately, there were enough high ranking Catholic clerics who
joined forces with the Dirty War warriors, to calm the doubts of the
executioners, using Scriptural texts and Theological Reason.
Although the Vatican stepped in quickly to deny the allegations as
nothing more than "opportunistic defamations from anti-clerical
leftists" (/New York Times)/, the accusations against now Pope Francis
are not new and they are troubling. There are three standing accusations
against him, although only one has, thus far, been seriously vetted by
the media. The first concerns Bergoglio's privileged knowledge and his
possible complicity in sanctioning the removal (i.e, confiscation) of
babies from disappeared and detained political prisoners and their
placement in 'good' Christian, military households where they would be
saved from the germ of the subversive Marxist thinking of their parents.
In this regard, the /Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo/ released on March 13^th
2013 the following fragment from Bergoglio's testimony to the Tribunal
held in 2010 to investigate the /"Plan Sistemático de apropiación y en
la megacausa ESMA"/ -- the junta's systematic kidnapping of children by
the officers of the quaintly named /Esscuela Superior de Mecanica de la
Armada,/ the Navy Petty Officers School of Mechanics, now known simply
as the /Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada, EMA,/ Navy School of
Mechanics. ESMA was turned into the most politically and mentally
deranged concentration and detention camp of the Argentine dirty war.
Bergoglio was summoned by the Tribunal in order to testify in the case
of a pregnant woman, Elena de la Cuadra, who was abducted and detained
at ESMA. During the period of her detention, the parents of the
missing woman appealed to Father Bergoglio for help in vain. During this
period Bergoglio received Elena's father on two occasions, referring him
to the Archbishop of La Plata, Mario Picchi. He [not clear whether the
he refers to Bergoglio or to Archbishop Picchi] confirmed that Elena had
given birth to a girl named Ana Libertad and who was in the care of a
family: "The baby is being raised well by a family, Elena's situation is
irreversible," he explained. Ana Libertad remains disappeared."
/Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo hace pública la declaración del Papa
electo Jorge Bergoglio, en el juicio por Plan Sistemático de
Apropiación de Menores. Allí se lo citó para declarar acerca del
caso de la detenida desaparecida embarazada Elena de la Cuadra, cuya
familia acudió a él, en vano, en busca de ayuda. En ese entonces
Bergoglio recibió al padre de Elena en dos oportunidades,
derivándolo al Arzobispo de La Plata, Mario Picchi. Èste le confirmó
que Elena había dado a luz a una niña a la que llamó Ana Libertad y
que estaba en manos de una familia: "A la nena la cría una familia
bien, lo de Elena es irreversible", le explicó. Ana libertad
The commentary is chilling as it seems to show Bergoglio's and the
Archbishop Picchi's disinterest and perhaps even approval in the murder
of the detained woman and abduction and (one does not even want to think
of) her delivery (by what means?) of her infant in the Navel camp. The
language used to describe the infant's confiscation and her
placement/adoption by a "good family" is the coded military junta's
language used in such cases.
Bestowing the name 'Ana Libertad' on the abducted baby implies that the
infant has been 'liberated' from her inappropriate birth mother, who
was selected for elimination. The prelate's casual description of
Elena's condition as 'irreversible' -- that is, she was summarily
executed -- also uses the coded language of the military dictatorship.
What we can see here is the collusion of the Catholic hierarchy with
the perverse language and practices of the military dictatorship in
their treatment of this one case. Marguerite Feitlowitz referred to the
'lexicon of terror', through which ordinary language was destroyed by
the common use of euphemisms to normalize and routinize crimes against
humanity. Imagine what Elena's father and mother thought when being
told not to worry, their granddaughter was being raise in a good
Catholic military home, and that they need to seek no more, their
daughter no longer existed in this world.
Here is the fragment of then Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio's verbatim
testimony at the 2010 Tribunal regarding the knowledge and probable
complicity of the Catholic hierarchy in the dictatorship's program of
confiscating infants from soon to be executed pregnant women in detention:
/Investigator: "When did you learn that children were being
confiscated during the dictatorship?"/
Bergoglio: "That, um, quite recently ... Ah, recently, some ten
/I: "Would that be around the year 199X??" [sic]/
B: "Maybe sometime around the time of the Trial of the Juntas."
/I: " A bit earlier then."/
B: "A bit earlier. Around that time, more or less, I started to find
out about that".
/I :" We have talked at various times about documentation that could
or could not be provided to the proceedings (trial/tribunal). I
would like to conclude by asking that we come to an agreement on the
manner in which the tribunal can gain access to this valuable
documentation, as it is public knowledge and widely known
[literally, notorious; it is being talked about and is widely known,
almost synonymous to public knowledge] that the Church has much of
the documentation. This is apparent in record of evidence given in
various testimonies, including testimonies that have been heard here
in this trial. So, before finishing this hearing, we need to come
to an agreement and a determination of the most expeditious manner
by which the tribunal can gain access to all of that valuable
archival documentation. [The lawyer seems to asking permission of
the President of the Tribunal to ask for these documents from
President: -- "Just ask for it, demand it, Doctor."
/I: I'm wondering if there will be an agreed upon way we can find
and get to see this documentation./
/President: So the question is whether the gentleman testifying
will agree/permit a review of the [Church] files./
B: -Yes, I have no problem with that. I will instruct the custodians
of the archives to do so. In fact, we have received documentation
requests regarding other trials on the same topic, and we sent what
we had, whatever we had."
We can see that Cardinal Bergoglio is being treated very gently by the
lawyer-investigator, who seems to be seeking approval from the President
of the Triubunal to ask the Cardinal to release pertinent Church
documents to the Tribunal. The President says, 'go on, don't be timid,
just demand the documents'. But the lawyer continues to speak with great
hesitancy, "I am wondering if we might be able..." Bergoglio replies
that this isn't the first time that Church documents on infant
confiscation have been requested and that he tells his archivists to
find them and to send them to the trial lawyers. Whether Bergoglio ever
turned over the documents requested, letters, communications with the
militray, or the baptismal records of little Ana Libertad and other
cases like hers is not known.
*The Disappearance of Bergoglio's Colleague and Former Boss, **Esther
Balestrino de ** Careaga*
The second allegation concerns the Tribunal's investigation of a
military raid on a rural church during which three persons, two French
missionary nuns and a lay catechist , and personal friend of Bergoglio
were disappeared. In the following excerpt the judge and prosecutor are
Here is an excerpt from the testimony:
Buenos Aires, 2010 Bergoglio testifies before TOF No5.
disc 1 ID 4202826
Jose Mario Francisco and Regina Sivori Zamora (hereafter Z)
/Z- What were your functions between 1974-1977?/
B. -- I was Provincial head of Society of Jesus until 8.12.79.
/Z- Did you take note of the kidnapping of someone you knew and of
the two nuns in the Church of Santa Cruz in December 1977?/
B. -- Only through the media. It was a group of people who gathered
together to work for human rights. They were two French nuns and an
acquaintance of mine, Esther Balestrino de Careaga. (EB)
/Z. -Do you know whether the hierarchy ever lodged any complaints
about this case?/
B. -- No I can't excatly point that out, but I would assume so,
as those who are assigned to had been taken to report these things,
as the actions had taken place in a Catholic church.
/Z. -- Do any records exist in some archive of the Catholic Church?/
B. -- I suppose so, but I don't know for sure.
/Z. --Are those files under your control?/
B. -- The central archive of the CEA (Conference of the Catholic
Bishops) is under the control of the CEA
/Z. -And who supervises the CEA?/
B. -- I do.
/Z. --So, could you locate it [the file]?/
B. -- I can look for it, but not sure I can find it.
/Z. -In what circumstances did you know Ester Balestrino Carega (EB)?/
B. -- She was head of the chemical analysis lab where I worked in
1953, 1954 and there was a good friendship between the two of us.
She was from Paraguay.
/Z. -Did you try to do something when you learned of the the
B. -- It hurt me a lot trying to get in touch with a family member,
but I couldn't. They (the family) seemed to be in hiding. One of
her daughters was detained and then released. I tried to contact
people who could do something for her.
/Z- To whom are you referring?/
B. -- To people who could make things move, human rights people.
/Z- Any public officials or authorities?/
B. -- No. Because this case fell under the jurisdiction of the
Archbishop of Buenos Aires, and I was Provincial of the Jesuits.
/Z-. You were at one time in close contact with Mrs. de Careaga?/
B. -- Quite a lot. (Bastante). I took the steps that I was able
/Z. -- Could you be more specific?/
B. - I resorted to contacting those who could possibly find out
her whereabouts. Some ODH [Organization of Human Rights] people
who had access to authorities. I also talked to some Archdiocese
official. With Monsignor Olmedo, who was at the court.
/Z. -- And what did Monsignor Olmedo do?/
B. -- He said he had tried to make contact but he had no precise
information on where she was was arrested and all these things.
This is the extent of Bergoglio's testimony on the case of his missing
colleague and the two kidnapped and executed French nuns. The history of
the disappeared nuns, and that of Esther Careaga Ballestrino, is well
documented.* *We will begin with Esther.
Soon after the coup, two of Esther's sons, Manuel Carlos Cuevas and Ives
Domergue were kidnapped and disappeared. Then her daughter Ana Maria
Careaga, three months pregnant, was abducted on June 13, 1977. She was
taken to the secret detention center at Club Atlético
where she gave birth and lost her infant to the military's infant
confiscation and cleansing project.
Esther was one of the founding organizers of the Madres de Plaza de
Mayo, and she worked with other human rights organizations. In October
1977 Esther's daughter, Ana Maria, was released and Esther fled with Ana
Maria and her three remaining sons to Brazil and then to Switzerland.
Nonetheless, she returned to Argentina shorty afterwards to continue the
struggle against the disappearances until she herself was disappeared,
along with the two nuns and like them she was tortured and thrown into
The Cardinal's testimony was woefully incomplete. He did not mention
that Esther, his religiously committed colleague, had actually lost
two sons to the military dictatorship before Esther's pregnant
daughter was abducted and her infant 'liberated' to a good Christian
military family. His testimony minimized the atrocity.
I first heard about the nuns from various sources in conjunction with
my research on the /Colonia Montes de Oca,/ the National Asylum for the
Mentally Impaired (deficient) which became not so much a detention camp
as a death camp during the period of the dirty war. In 1964 Jorge
Videla, then a Captain in the military, deposited one of his sons at
the Colonia where the youngster died in 1971. The nuns had cared for
Videla's son when he was a toddler and before he was institutionalized
at an asylum where the poorest people of Argentina abandoned their
mentally disabled children and adult relatives. During the Dirty War,
Montes de Oca became a veritable death camp.
Recently, a book has been published by Andrea Basconi, /Elena Holmberg,
La Mujer que Sabia Demasiado/ (/Elena Holmberg, The Women Who Knew too
Much/) about the life and death of a career diplomat from a prominent
Argentine military family. Elena Holmberg was summoned from her office
at the Argentine Embassy in Paris in 1978 to meet with her superiors.
She was kidnapped and executed at the command Navel Officer Emilio
Massera. * *The book* *includes a detailed account of the two French
nuns, Sister Leonie Duquet and Sister Alice Domon, who came to
Argentina as missionaries in the 1950s. They took up a special
mission, caring for the disabled (/discapacitado/), teaching them their
catechism and trying to help them learn the basics of reading and
writing, among those able to reach that capacity. One if the children
they cared for in 1954 was the four year old son of Jorge Videla.
Eugenio Alejandro Videla was born in 1951, when their father, the future
dictator was a military captain. He and his wife, Alicia Raquel
Hartridge, then had two other children. Alexander was the third child
in a family that would eventually have seven children. Alejandro was
born disabled, and severely mentally incapacitated. His birth
devastated the Videla family and the Captain requested a temporary
position in the United States.
In 1999 Videla told journalist Guido Braslavsky about his disabled
son: "The Army assigned me to a position in the United States in 1956
so that I could find specialized medical treatment for my son's illness.
It was a genetic problem. But I was turned away by the doctors. They
told us that parts of his brain had not developed and that we had best
put him away, commit him in an institution where he could be taken care
of." [The interview is cited in the book /El Dictador / by Maria Seoane
and Vicente Muleiro.]
Videla accepted a position in the United States as an Assistant
to General Julio Lagos who was then a diplomat heading Argentina's
delegation to the /Junta Interamericana de Defensa / (JID), an
organization concerned with fighting the Marxist insurgency in Latin
America at the beginning of the cold war. It was most likely during this
period that Videla developed his extreme right political ideology.
Before leaving for the U.S., Videla and his wife relied on the help of
the two missionary nuns, Renée Léonie Duquet and Alice Domon. Sister
Léonie, born in France in 1916, arrived in Argentina in 1949. A few
years later, in 1955, she began working with the cousin of Videla's
wife, Father Ismael Calcagno at the CASA de Catechesis of Morón, a
school for the religious education of disabled children. They were
joined in this work by two other nuns, Gabrielle Echevarne and Alice
The nuns' strong Catholic faith impressed Jorge Videla, who was deeply
involved with the Christian Family Movement under the Bishop of Morón.
In 1997 Father Calcagno said that "both Leonie and Domon were my
assistants at the Casa of Catechesis. Videla knew them both very well."
In this Catholic center in Morón, the two nuns worked with children
with special needs and disabilities, among them Videla's son. The
priest said Alexander often took walks in the countryside with the
nuns, who tried to teach the children to read using a special French
method. The children learned slowly, but some did learn. Alexander was
not one of them. The center also took care of homeless children and
among these were four children of Videla's first cousin, Julia. Videla
and the nuns had many interactions between 1953 and 1956, at which
point Videla left for the United States.
Over time the spiritual formation of the nuns changed, shaped by the new
philosophy of liberation theology. They began to speak of "an option
for the poor, for the needy" while criticizing their old acquaintance,
Videla, as choosing another option in support of the "military, power,
blood and fire." Videla's faith, the nuns said, was all about "Nation
and God, God and Nation (/Patrie Dieu, Dieu and Patrie/).
The nuns embrace of liberation theology proved to be their undoing. On
December 13^th , 1977 Videla's Secretary General broke the news of
their kidnapping, several days before the nuns were drugged and thrown
into the sea. Videla had time to investigate the reports that Léonie
and Alice had been abducted by a task force of ESMA along with the
founder of the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo, Azucena Ballestrino Villa,
Esther Careaga, and other relatives of the disappeared. Lieutenant
Alfredo Astiz ordered the raid on the Church of Santa Cruz where the
nuns had been abducted.
Under intense international pressure, the military regime announced that
the nuns had been kidnapped by the 'terrorist' Commando Montonero.
Meanwhile, in the basement of ESMA, the nuns were interrogated,
tortured, and then loaded on a death flight on December 18^th and
thrown, still alive, into the sea. A few days later their bodies were
washed up on the beaches of Santa Teresita. They were buried as
unidentified persons in General Lavalle cemetery.
Three decades later, members of the Argentine Forensic Anthropology
Team (EEAA) exhumed the graves and were able to identify the bodies of
Sister Leonie and of Bergoglio's good friend, Esther Ballestrino de Careaga.
*Orlando and Francisco: the Jesuit Seminarians *
The third accusation, and the one that has received the greatest
attention, concerns the role Bergoglio played in the disappearance,
detention, interrogation and torture of two of his own Jesuit priests in
training: Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics.
Yorio was a native son of Argentina, Jalics was an immigrant from his
native Hungary. The questions that raised concern were whether Father
Bergoglio, then Jesuit Superior, exposed the two priests under his
supervision to risk of abduction when he made the decision to dismiss
them from the Society of Jesus. By cutting the two men loose of their
juridical status as active Jesuit clerics, Bergoglio, knowingly or not,
signaled to the military that 'these two are no longer my disciples.'
It has all the appearances of a betrayal. Just a few days after their
dismissal, the priests were abducted and taken to ESMA where they were
detained for interrogation, tortured, and after five months released,
dropped from a helicopter on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, where they
were found, drugged, dazed, and in very poor physical condition.
Bergoglio arranged to have them picked up and quickly exiled one of the
men (Yorio) to Rome and the other (Jalics) to Germany.
Cardinal Bergoglio's Testimony to the 2010 Tribunal, thirty years after
the events occurred, is very long and extremely frustrating.
Argentina is now a democratic country. It is no longer being run by
state terrorists. Throughout the hearing Bergoglio refuses to name a
single individual, living or dead, any military officers, any
Ecclesiastical administrators, bishops or priests who might have been
responsible for the abduction of the two innocent young priests in his
charge, his own protégées. The language Bergoglio's uses at times is
abstract to the point of being absurd and at other times sly and
sarcastic. I have extracted some examples:
/Z .(Tribunal Investigator) -- In what year and under what
circumstances did you meet and get to know Orlando Yorio and
B. -- Yorio I first met in 1961, 1962 in the Colegio Maximo, which
is the center for Jesuit Studies, where the faculties of philosophy
and theology are located. Later he was a theology professor in the
area of Trinitate. I met Jalics in 1961 in the same place. He was
professor of fundamental theology and a spiritual advisor to
/ Z. -- Do you recall any problems that emerged with [Jesuit]
support for Padre Yorio in 1975-1976? ... any accusations of some
kind within the Society of Jesus concerning Yorio and Jalics
fulfilling their priestly duties?/
B. -- Nothing in particular. At that time any priest who worked with
the poorest sectors was subject to suspicions or accusations. In
June 1973 I took a trip to La Rioja with the previous provincial
to intervene in the case of the two Jesuits who were engaged in a
mission working with the poor and they were subject to this kind
of talk. ..It was very common that someone working with the poor
was seen as a leftist, and that was not only at that time. Just two
months ago, a layman who works in one of the slums of Buenos Aires
heard a comment, "So you are working with the leftists". It's
something that existed even before [the Coup]. Allegations of
ideological leanings, of belonging to subversive organizations ---
for that was the term that was used at that time --- by a certain
sector of the population were common.
/Z. -- All the accusations came from that sector?/
B. -- From people who did not agree with that pastoral option
(i.e., working with the poor).
/Z. Do any of these people have names, either first or last names?/
B. -- No. Certain sectors, certain people. In fact when [Jesuit
General Superior] Father Arrupe and I visited [the two Jesuits] in
August 1974 in La Rioja, a very provincial place, many sectors of
La Rioja society publicly expressed to us their discomfort with
Jesuits working among the poorest.
/Z. -- Please, try to clarify with some precision [without the
generalities] the questions I am asking about Yorio and Jalics./
B. -- There were various sectors of the society that were adverse to
certain ideologies (18.20) Some social and cultural sectors
disagreed with the pastoral option which was a clear-cut choice for
/Z. -- Please make an effort to define, name and surname, some
members of the Society of Jesus, of the Catholic Church, of the
Catholic hierarchy who shared this questioning of pastoral work with
B. -- The Army questioned everyone who shared the pastoral option.
/ Z. -- But whom exactly?/
B. -- Various sectors, across the board. It was spoken, it was
said, it was was published in the newspapers.
/Z. -- Did you speak of it?/
B. -- It was talked about about in communities, in the fields, in
churches, in parishes. Above all, in some sectors of the Church. And
also outside the Church.
/Z. -- But you don't remember any particular case, a Bishop or a
B. -- No, because it was something that was general, very common.
Those comments were not necessarily an accusation but rather a
general perception or common sense ... the general view that
priests who worked with the poor were lefists.
/Z. -- That was a very dangerous perception, because it was the very
same accusation used by the dictatorship to victimize people. What
you are saying does not help us to locate the problem in a more
concrete way. Where did these allegations come from?/
B. -- Jalics and Yorio left the Society of Jesus before the
military coup and to find a particular event that we can benchmark
it might be the death of Fr. Mugica, which happened /before/ the
coup. [The execution of Father Carlos Mungica, a priest of the
poor, took place in May 11, 1974 following his Saturday morning
services on May 11 at the San Francisco Solano Parish. He was killed
by a hit man for the AAA, Anti-Communist Alliance. He is considered
a kind of Catholic martyr. --NS-H]
/Z. -- I don't understand. The question was whether you could
specify where and from whom these accusations [against the two
Jesuits] came from, which you have simply downplayed here./
B. -- I want to clarify the importance of the question. I did not
discount the importance of these sentiments and accusatioms.They
were serious, they were slanderous. Slander is a serious sin. I do
not underestimate its importance. But the two men already lived in
that [political] environment, and those who made that option [the
option for the poor] understood what they were getting into. In that
respect one was accustomed to hearing such allegations even before
the military coup...
/Z. -- Did the general of the Jesuits know that there were
accusations made against this group [that included Jalics and
Yorio]? Did the General [the global head of the Jesuits] share
those [critical] views?/
/Z. -- When did you stop teaching Padre Yorio ?/
B. -- I do not remember.
/Z. -- And therefore you don't know why./
B. -- They came and went because the courses were cyclical.
/Z. - You had an intimate knowledge of Padre Yorio?/
B. -- Knowledge that was normal among Jesuits. We were not friends,
not enemies. But we had a good enough relationship.
/Z. -- You have not told me why you stopped giving them classes?/
B. -- I do not remember, but my point is that the character of the
classes was cyclical.
/Z. Do you recall being interviewed about the character of Padre
Jalics and Yorio?/
B. -- Yes, and not just about those two, but about all the
Jesuits working within that primary option for the poor. It was
common to communicate about these things and to see how they were
/Z. -- In the case of Yorio and Jalics?/
B. -- Yes, like everyone else. It was quite common.
/Z. -- It would be important if you could specify who was asking
about them,/ /what interviews you had, and what was your reaction
as Jesuit Provincial as part of the hierarchy?/
B. -- Our relationship was good.
/ Z. -- No. I want to know about your reaction [not the
relatiomship] . (27.55)/
B. -- I always take prudent measures. It should be clarified that
they only worked in the poor communities, they did not live
there.They lived in the neighborhood of Rivadavia in the
neighborhood, where they did their weekly spritual exercises, their
managerial and other spiritual, classes, especially Padre Jalics,
who was a writer. They only worked with the poor on the weekends.
/(*Excerpts from Disk 2)*/
/Z. -Was there any understanding between the ecclesiastical
authority and the military junta that before they would detrain a
priest they would inform the bishop on whoever was in charge?/
B. -- No.
/Z. -- You never heard on anything like this?/
B. -- No
/Z. -- Do you know what happened to Jalics and Yorio and a group
of catechists from the barrio Rivadavia?/
B. -- On what date?
/Z. -In May 1976./
B. -- Are you referring to the kidnapping?
/ Z. - I can not suggest an answer to my question./
B. -- On about 22 or 23 May there was a raid and they were
arrested. (gesticulating something with his finger).
/Z. -- Do you know who were the people arrested, what the operation
B. - I know that Yorio and Jalics were detainees along with a
group of lay catechists, some of whom were released, I was told, in
the first days.
/Z. -- Do you know that their licenses [to practice as clerics]
B. -- I heard that it was said, but not that I was aware of it. The
fact that they were doing pastoral work in the barrios would
indicate that they [the government] could do that. (take away their
license). It would be difficult for the pastor of a church to admit
that they were woirking with, collaborating with a priest with a
formally suspended license.
/Z. -- Formally? And how else coulld it be? Only a judge has
the authority to suspend / /a license, correct?/
/Judge - But the judge depends on the local bishop to give the
order, correct? /
B. -- It depends on the religious order that they left. There was a
period of transition. And after they are incardinated [installed
officially in a parish] their license dependents on the local Bishop.
/Judge -- And during the the transition?/
B. -- I told them they could keep officiating at Mass until
/Judge -- Can the Bishop deny the order? The authorization? /
B. -It's possible. But I never was aware of such a thing.
/Z. -- But in this case wasn't there a benevolent bishop?/
B. -- You mean the local bishop, the Bishop of Buenos Aires,
/Z- Didn't Aramburu make a decision regarding them./
B. -- Not that I am not aware.
/Z. -- Could it have happened?/
B. -- Without telling me?
/ Z. -- During the transition they can act like any other priest?/
B.- We leave the interpretation up to them.
/Z. -- They were not in the same legal status as any other priest?/
B. -- No, because they were in transition.
/ Z. -- What is the consequences of the suspension of a license?/
B. - It determines who can not exercise the ministry. The license
/Z. -- Did you consider that now they were in grave danger given
the political climate of living in a situation in which they are no
longer under the protrection of the Church, that during the
transition it was even diffivult for them to celebrate Mass?/
B. -- No, they could celebrate Mass without difficulty, because I
told them they could do that. As for whether they were in a
situation of exposure to big risk ...Yes, I think there was a
greater exposure, but relatively, because they knew they had access
to the provincial curia of Jesuits, with whom they could come to
live, and who were in dialogue with the Church, with the provincial. ...
/Z. -- Can you help us evaluate this from the point of view of the
hierarchy? What were the links between these priests who made the
option for the poor ... and the decision to be ... be without a
bishop, to leave the Church without any support?/
/ Z. -- Do you know who it felt for them to be in a position of
being unprotected by the Church./
B. -- No. I know otherwise, by the conversations they had with me.
They had no feeling of helplessness.
/Z. -- Are there any Church records about the suspension of their
B. -- Si, usually, but not always. It depends on the Bishop...
/Z. -- Are there written records, archives somewhere?/
/Z. -- And that file is up to you now?/
B. -- Si.
/Z. -- How did you become aware of what happened?/
B. -- By a phone call, at noon, a call from somebody in the barrio
who I did not know. They said that there was a raid and they took
the two priests as prisoners along with some lay people. Padre
Dourron was riding his bike and he saw how they took them down the
street of Varela.
/Z. -- You didn't ask any questions about it?/
B. -- No. After a shock like that you only remember afterwards to
/Presiding Judge- Do you remember what you did after hearing this
B. -Yes, I started to move, to speak with priests who were said to
have access to the police, the armed forces. We moved quickly.
/Judge President- Did you get any information that was different
from what you were given by the anonymous neighbor?/
B. -I confirmed what had happened, and that no one knew where they
were. Then we began to hear that the ones who took them away were
members of the Navy (Marines).
/Z. -- You don't recall who made the call to you, or who said that
they were Navy people? Did you inform the church hierarchy?/
B. - I informed all the members of the Socirty de Jesus and the
Archbishopric. It happened on a Sunday and I alerted Cardinal
Aramburu, and also to the papal nuncio,Monsignor Laghi on Monday or
Tuesday, I think?
/Z. -- How did you learn about the involvement of the Navy?/
B -- Common talk, /vox populi,/ they pointed to there... In fact I
met twice with the Navy Commander, Massera. He was the first to
hear me and he told me that he was going to look into it. I told
him that these priests did not do anything unusual. He said nothing
in reply. After a couple of months ppassed I requested a second
interview, while continuing other steps. I was almost sure that
they had them [at ESMA]. The second interview was very ugly, and
it lasted no more than ten minutes. [they had a disagreement] I
said, look, what ever happens maybe it is is better to talk with
Monsignor Tortolo, right? Then I got up and left.
/Z. -- Where did the the rumors that the Navy had them come from?/
B. -No, it was common talk, the vox populi. People with whom you
spoke, said it was the Navy [ESMA].
/Z. -- What people?/
B. -- The people who had influence, people with connections with
judges, police, military, with the Interior Ministry, with the
government. Everything pointed to the Navy.
/Z. -- Do you remember the name of any of those people who had
easier access/ /to power?/
B. -- No.
/Z- Were any of them Church people, ecclesiastical superiors, like
B- There was only dispair of their friends, acquaintances.
/Z- But the fact that you heard that they were kidnapped by the
Navy is very important data. If you could make a effort to remember
who indicated this knowledge, that was plausible enough that you
yourself believed, it to be true, so that you approcahed Massera,
it would be a serious source.../
B- I told you that was just common talk, /vox populi, vox Dei,/
there was not a person, there was general agreement. I do not
remember who identified them as the Navy task force
/Z- You don't remember who phoned, you don't remember who said it
was the Navy.This is why we are asking you to identify at least one
(Page 13 of 56)
(Skipping down to page 17)
/Z- Did you seek contact with families of Jalics and Yorio to let
them what had occurred, given that Yorio and Jalics were kidnapped?/
B- No. I know there were other Jesuits with information claiming
that they were handed over to a unit of the Navy.
/Z- Why didn't you seek direct contact?/
B- No reason, but as I was moving looking for contacts, I found
that this was the best way to prioceed. Nothing was excluded.
/Z- Mr Bergoglio, when did you learn that the priests Jalics and
Yorio had been released, and when did you meet with them? /
B- I contacted Padre Yorio to notify us. I said 'Do not tell me
where you are or move from where you are. Send me a person who can
communicate where we can find you. Because at that point we had to
take all precautions...
B- The Papal Nuncio behaved well and accepted my suggestion to
accompany them [Yorio and Jalics] to the police dept. With the
Papal secretary, covering diplomatic relations, nothing bad cpould
happen to them inside there. I met Yorio various times times to
see to their future.... We decided that the the best thing for
Yorio would be to to go to Rome to study canon law. In Rome I saw
him several times during my travels there. After a while we fell
out of contact. With Jalics iot was was faster. He was sent
immediately to the United States where his mother was living.
/President-What did they tell you?/
B- They told me everything. They were hooded, shackled, that after a
some time moved to another place that they thought was a house
nearby ESMA, where they were convinced that they had been kept for
most of the time. They were sure it was the same area because of the
noise of planes taking off and landing. And there they was nearby
a field of canuelas.
/President- Did they describe the condition of the detention?/
B- Yes, it was precarious and painful , and humiliating.
/President- The details?/
B- Humiliating about going to the bathroom. Nothing much said
about how they were fed.
/Z- Physical abuse?/
B. They did not say anything about that . From their general account
one had the impression that there was a great deal of torture in
detention but I don't recall any of the specifies of the torture.
/President: Beatings? Blows, electric currents to the body?/
B- I don't remember them saying anything about that, they did not
speak of it, they do not say that it had not happened. I do not
/ President-Anything else?/
B-Insults. But those insults, were to say look at where you went,
Jesus says that the poor are happy in spirit, not when they work
/ Z- Once you heard all this what steps did you take?/
B- In what sense?
/Z- Legal, public, internal Church, informing the hierarchies./
B- The first step was to ensure their physical security. So I
advised them not to say where they were. The second step of my
concern was to get them out of the country. Of course, I told
the local bishop to inform Rome by telephone. And I secure the
future in Rome for Yorio in Rome, and in the Diocese of Quilmes.
/President. Do you reacll making any complaint to the authorities
or to the / /court?/
B. -- I do not remember and I think it was decided to contact them
them via ecclesiastical networks, through the Archbishop, or CEA,
remember if these complaints were jopined with other other
complaints and presented all together.
/President- Any of this in written records? Can you access written
B- Si. I can try to find them.
The fact is, however, that the Jesuits did not request to be released
from their priesthood, they were dismissed by their Jesuit Provincial.
They were being disciplined for having refused Bergoglio's order to
give up their 'social work' among the poor because it was giving scandal
to conservative Catholics who saw this 'pastoral option for the poor' as
subversive and degrading to the noble Jesuit tradition, a tradition
interpreted by Bergoglio.
Under Jorge Mario's leadership, the Society of Jesus, was shaped into a
theological phalanx of the right-wing dictatorship. Bergoglio did not
answer the question put to him about whether the Superior General of
the Society of Jesus (worldwide) shared Bergoglio's critical view of
liberation theology and its preferential option to the poor. If so, he
would have had to say that the answer was no.
The crowning moment in the career of the Jesuit Superior General Pedro
Arrupe, of Spain, was his decree in 1975 that redefined the work of
the Jesuits as supporting social justice. Arrupe was very conscious of
the fact that this degree would cause endless grief to Jesuits working
in Latin America at this time when fascist dictatorships prevailed in
the Southern cone and in Central America.
*/Was Jorge Mario Bergoglio Complicit with the Dictatorship?/*
This is the question that has been reverberating around the world since
Jorge Mario's election to the papacy. Not even someone as sanctified as
Jon Sobrino, the "Don Quixote of the Disinherited", a priest who laid
his body down in defense of the people of El Salvador during the
counter-insurency war there, dares to pass judgement on the new Pope.
I have far less competency or right to do so. But having worked in
Brazil during the dictatorship, and South Africa at the bitter end of
the anti-apartheid struggle and as a student of structural and political
violence and its effects on individuals at critical times, this much I
know. It is unfair to ask that humans behave like saints during
totalitarian catastrophes like the Argentine Dirty War. The imposition
of a culture of terror that destroyed human solidarity, that made
everyone suspicious of every other one, a regime under which parents
suspected children, and children their parents of being 'into things'
and who sometimes reported them to authorities is not a new revelation.
Not one among us knows how they would behave under such compromised
circumstances, when one's own existence as well as of those for whom
one is responsible are at stake.
How does complicity work? Sometimes it works directly, but far more
often it works indirectly and passively, for example, thorough useless
negotiations with the terrorist. Sometimes it works through a kind of
battlefield triage, through sacrificial violence -- letting some go, so
that many others might live. My guess is that Father Bergoglio was a
tormented soul. It is certainly clear that he had no natural inclination
or taste for the new social gospel of the poor and political
consciousness raising. Indeed, as Jon Sorino notes, Bergoglio was
'no Oscar Romero', referring to the martyred Archbishop of El Salvador
who was murdered by the fascists in San Salvador on March 24, 1980.
Neither was he a Dom Helder Camara, the little Red Archbishop of Recife,
noted by George Monbiot in the /Guardian./ Dom Helder blessed my work as
an anthropologist in Pernambuco just as he had defended me in 1965 when
officials of the 5^th Army of Brazil interrogated me about a
'subversive' residents' association, UPAC (Union for the People of Alto
do Cruzeiro) in the shantytown of Alto Do Cruzeiro. The original
damage had been done by another Catholic prelate who, along with some
local latifundistas, had turned me and several leaders of UPAC in to
the military. I admired that unnamed Catholic priest, to whom I had
made my confessions, and was sad to learn that he was a conspirator
with the dictatorship, and he continued to be so up throughout the 20
year dictatorship, though we met up without rancor in 1982 in Recife.
The truth is likely to be tangled, that of a conflicted prelate, then
Provincial leader of the Society of Jesus in Buenos Aires, who removed
two of his 'wayward' priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, from
active duty in a poor parish in the rural barrio of Rivadavia, where the
worked on weekends with a group of local catechists commmited to what
was then called the pastoral preferential option for the poor. Fired by
their Provincial, the priests were without any protrection from
militray terrorism during this turbulent period. Cardinal Bergoglio
acknowledged as much. Orlando and Francisco were, in effect, exposed as
rejected Jesuits. One week later, in full view of their parishioners,
Jalics and Yorio were surrounded by military men who swooped down on
them in the street, kidnapped, hooded, and shoved into a car and
carried them to the secret detention and concentration camp at ESMA,
where for five months they were physically abused, humiliated, and
interrogated under torture.
Orlando Yorio believed that he and Francisco Jalics were handed over to
the military by Father Bergoglio. Yorio told Argentine journalist
Hortaio Verbitsdsky that "he had the impression that their own
provincial, Bergoglio, was present during the interrogations [at ESMA]
as one of the interrogators had external knowledge of theological
questions." By this Yorio meant that the interrogation went into details
of theological doctrine far beyond the competency of a secular Navy
officer. But Yorio was presumably blindfolded during these
interrogations during which he was beaten. After his release from ESMA,
which may have been negotiated by Bergoglio during his meetings with
Navy Commander Emilio Massera, Yorio lived in Rome for several years
after which he returned to Argentina where he served as a priest in
Quilmes diocese outside Buenos Aires, under a progressive Bishop who
opposed the Cardinal. It was during that time ,2005, that Yorio
denounced Bergoglio in a legal suit through a human rights lawyer.
These accusations led to Borgoglio's testimony before the judicial
tribunal to prosecute dirty war criminals. While the tribunal did not
prosecute Bergoglio it is clear from the transcript of the hearings that
the attorney and the judge were frustrated with Bergoglio's evasive,
sometimes absurdist, answers to their pointed questions about his
knowledge about who might have identified the young priests as
As for Francisco Jalics, he went to live in Germany as a contemplative
priest, dedicated to meditation and spiritual writing. A few of his
books have been translated into English including one on Contemplative
Retreat: An Introduction to The Contemplative Way of Life and to the
Jesus Prayer. The method that Father Jalics presents is the path of
surrender to God, what Horatio Verbitsky, describes as the path to
oblivion. Father Jalics is now an old man, who goes by the name of
Franz, rather than Francisco. He once confided to Verbitsky that he
suffered many years of resentment toward Father Borgogio, but that he
has now renounced it. This decision conforms to his writings, the
writings of a mystic. On March 15^th Father Jalics released a letter to
the public in which he writes:
"After we were set free, I left Argentina. It was only years later
that we had the opportunity to discuss the events with Father
Bergoglio who in the meantime had been appointed Archbishop of
Buenos Aires. Following that, we celebrated Mass publicly together
and hugged solemnly. I am reconciled with the events and on my part,
consider the matter to be closed. I wish Pope Francis God's rich
blessings for his office - Father Franz Jalics SJ 15 March 2013.
The testimony of the two kidnapped and tortured Jesuits, one now dead
and reconciled, the other having entered a state of reclusion from the
world and reconciled with his former Superior, is probably as far as
this story can go. Now it is up to the Pope Francis to allow the Holy
Spirit to reconcile him to his new destiny. It is possible that in
choosing the name Francis, Jorge Mario, had Father Francisco Jalics in
mind as much as Saint Francis of Assisi. Perhaps, Franz ("Francisco"]
Jalics is quite aware of that and the two are joined in mutual
recognition of the terror that, each in his own way, they had suffered
under the Generals and the Dirty War. What matters now, today, is not
so much reconciliation and conversion.
Will Francis 1 have the courage to undo the harm of the previous two
Pope's who extinguished the hope that liberation theology priests and
catechists like Francisco and Orlando, like Bergogio's companheira,
Esther Careaga Ballestrino, and the French missionary nuns brought into
poor slums and rural villas?
How will Francis I respond to Jon Sobrono's three challenges to him: To
fix the unbearable and untenable situation of women vis-à-vis the
Church, to recognize and value the indigenous peoples of world, and
to love Mother Earth. I could add many of my own wishes to the new Pope.
But my question is this: Will Francis I make a full and complete
confession to his own Confessor? Will he make amends? Will he resist
the new temptataions he will have to face as Papa to a billion or so
Catholics? If so, then God can forgive Jorge Mario. But not until then.
/*Nancy Scheper-Hughes* is professor of medical anthropology at the
University of California, Berkeley. She is the author of Death Without
Weeping: The Violence of Everyday Life in Brazil
Her new book "The Ghosts of Montes de Oca: Naked Life and the
Medically Disappeared -- A Hidden Subtext of the Argentine Dirty War" is
Freedom Archives 522 Valencia Street San Francisco, CA 94110 415
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