Dark Cloud in Francis' Past: The Dirty War
Critics accuse Bergoglio of working with military junta
By Mark Russell, Newser Staff
Posted Mar 14, 2013 9:47 AM CDT
In this 2008 photo, Argentina's Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio -- now Pope Francis -- travels on the subway in Buenos Aires, Argentina.   (AP Photo/Pablo Leguizamon)

(Newser) – Although responses to Pope Francis have been chiefly positive, one dark stain in church history is raising serious questions about the new pope—the church's role during the dictatorship in Argentina, reports the Guardian. The church backed the dictatorship during its rule from 1976 to 1983, urging its followers to be patriotic and support the regime, too, even as thousands of people were abducted and murdered by the government, including many progressive priests. As the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina from 1973 to 1979, Jorge Bergoglio was part of the church hierarchy and has been accused of working with the dictatorship.

In 2005, Bergoglio was accused in a lawsuit of withdrawing church protection from two anti-government priests, leading to their incarceration under brutal conditions in 1976, reports the New York Times. Bergoglio has called the allegation "slander" and claimed he worked behind the scenes to help the priests, but he has twice refused to testify in court about what his role had been. "I still have many doubts about his role regarding the Jesuits who went missing under the dictatorship," says the leader of a group of left-wing priests. Others praise Bergoglio for his role in the "monumental task" of healing the church's black eye after the war: "If he can restore the credibility of the church (in Argentina)," says one expert, "he can handle the scandals that have befallen the church worldwide.

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Showing 3 of 139 comments
Bill Inaz
Mar 14, 2013 10:02 PM CDT
Meh..., we've got McCain in the Senate here. One of the "Khaki Priests of Christendom" that "Rode the stone Leviathan across a sea of blood". http://www.allthelyrics.com/lyrics/country_joe_mcdonald/an_untitled_protest-lyrics-1246488.html
coolsmoothla
Mar 14, 2013 6:33 PM CDT
To @newser-7cee2d5f96042b958705b82c0bcec92d:disqus and @newser-e374c8311f3718363695b844ef4d3311:disqus : I've lost the thread to reply. So I am starting a new one. To John: you called me delusional for putting the Roman Catholic Church atrocities in the light. Never have you admitted that those things did not take place. Instead, you called me delusional. I expect it from an non repenting catholic. But at least back it up with facts. All that I defend is defended by what is written from proven men of God that does not have their hands stained with innocent blood. Not so with the Roman Catholic Church and their subsets. To gssusrr: reread my post. I said that Dela Casa was a bishop not a priest who argue for the slavery of the Africans; google it.
lilia.s
Mar 14, 2013 2:56 PM CDT
What is with the Catholic Church? Recently "retired" pope Benedict was a former Nazi Youth member, now the new pope Francis allegedly worked hand-in-glove with the Nazi dictatorship in Argentina, just like the Catholic Church did with Hitlers regime in WWII. Add to that the continuing proven scandal of priests, including archbishops, molesting and being protected by the church. Since when did the Bible ever indicate that Jesus Christ was a Nazi child molester? Doesn't the Roman Catholic Church purport to be the Christian organization founded upon Jesus' teachings, and by Jesus' disciples?