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Sat Mar 16, 2013, 05:54 PM

Fact Check: Bergoglio, the torture of two priests, and the hiding of political prisoners

I am posting this in GD b/c the discussion of Bergoglio's role related to the Argentinian military junta was mentioned in GD several times in the past few days. Both those of us who accused him of actions and those who defended him have the story wrong, it seems.


From Horacio Verbitsky (an investigative journalist and head of the Center for Legal and Social Studies, an Argentine human rights organization and the author of The Silence: From Paul VI to Bergoglio: The Secret Relations Between the Church and the ESMA.

(ESMA was the naval military group that was implicated in stealing the children of women dissidents, giving those children to military and other fascist friendly families and then throwing those mothers to their deaths in the Atlantic Ocean. The leader of the military junta admitted, in 2011 that the junta had given the children of dissidents to "good families" but denied, in opposition to Truth Commission testimony, that the Navy had murdered the mothers... tho they are still "disappeared" - which was the fascist's term for political murder.)

The two priests who were tortured by the Argentine government were the ones who claimed Bergoglio knew about and participated in their torture because the torturers knew about doctrinal issues within the church that were part of their interrogation...When the military coup overthrew the Isabel Perón government, he (Bergoglio) was in touch with the military that ousted this government and asked the Jesuits to stop their social work. And when they refused to do it, he stopped protecting them, and he let the military know that they were not more inside the protection of the Jesuits’ company, and they were kidnapped.

(Regarding Bergoglio)
...During the research for one of my books, I found documents in the archive of the foreign relations minister in Argentina, which, from my understanding, gave an end to the debate and show the double standard that Bergoglio used
(regarding those two priests.)

...His message is absolutely conservative. He was opposed to abortion, to the egalitarian matrimony law. He launched a crusade against the evil when Congress was passing this law, and in the very same style that John Paul II. This is what I consider the main feature on the new pope.
Verbitsky also talks about Bergoglio as the leader of the opposition to the Argentinian govt. that sought to liberalize laws.

Regarding hiding prisoners from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights -

No, in this episode, Bergoglio has no intervention. The intervention was from the cardinal that in that time was the chief of the church in Buenos Aires. That is the position that Bergoglio has in the present. But in that time, he was not archbishop of Buenos Aires. When the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights came into Argentina to investigate allegations of human rights violations, the navy took 60 prisoners out of ESMA and got them to a village that was used by the Cardinal Aramburu to his weekends. And in this weekend property were also the celebration each year of the new seminarians that ended their studies. In this villa in the outskirts of Buenos Aires were the prisoners during the visit of the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights. And when the commission visited ESMA, they did not find the prisoners that were supposed to be there, because they were— ...Bergoglio has no intervention in this—in this fact. Indeed, he helped me to investigate a case. He gave me the precise information about in which tribunal was the document demonstrating that this villa was owned by the church.

There has been back and forth here about the two priests and the hiding of political prisoners. They are two separate incidents, and in the second one, Bergoglio was not the archbishop who colluded with the fascists to hide political prisoners from the Human Rights organization.

He helped the investigative reporter identify the church property that was used to hide the prisoners.

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Reply Fact Check: Bergoglio, the torture of two priests, and the hiding of political prisoners (Original post)
RainDog Mar 2013 OP
RainDog Mar 2013 #1
hedgehog Mar 2013 #2
RainDog Mar 2013 #3
RainDog Mar 2013 #4

Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sat Mar 16, 2013, 09:28 PM

1. On Bergoglio's political affiliations

It appears that Bergoglio is associated with CL, or Comunione e Liberazione (Communion and Liberation.)

This religious/political group supported Berlusconi. Bergoglio has spoken at its meetings and was the representative for its books at book fairs in Argentina (i.e. he represented the group to sell its books.) In turn, CL opposed Bergoglio's Jesuit opponent, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini, who stated the Catholic church is "200 years out of date," according to an article at The National Catholic Reporter.

CL is not a widely-known organization in the U.S. Opus Dei and The Legionaries of Christ (both reactionary right wing catholic factions - the first one founded by in Spain by a fascist priest) are better known here. But it is well established in 80 other nations.


The CL is very popular among the hierarchy in the church. Those within (or formerly in) Catholicism, one of whom is now in the Episcopal Church since he was kicked out, claims JPII, Ratzinger, and Bergoglio are part of a counter coup among traditionalists after Vatican II - and that their authority is illegitimate because a Council carries greater authority than do individual popes and their pronouncements.

iow, among liberation theologists and those of similar left-leaning thought - the last forty-plus years of Catholicism have been illegitimate because the Popes have directly defied the Council's view of the positions that the church should hold or review.


Those within the church who are involved in the politics of the governing say that the CL is the equivalent of Protestant Fundamentalism and Islamic Fundamentalism as regressive religious/political forces in the world.

...that came out of the work of The Fundamentalism Project, a program that offered a scholarly investigation into global conservative religious movements. Marty, who is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and Appleby, who directs of Notre Dame's Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, co-directed this project. (and is included in the first link, above.)

"CL boldly claims that the Church embodies authoritative truth that is binding on society at large. (i.e. no church/state separation, just as with other fundamentalisms we know.) States theologian and political scientist Dario Zadra in work for The Fundamentalist Project.

Its beliefs and practices offer a new religious and countercultural way of looking at modern society and culture. CL boldly claims that the Church embodies authoritative truth that is binding on society at large. By claiming the presence of Christ, the Church also claims divine authority -- a kind of inerrancy, not of the biblical text (as in Protestant fundamentalism) but of the Church.

"..they reject the modern insistence on "a freedom of conscience that excludes the religious attitude at its very root." Zadra explains that those who center their political and cultural ideas on human values rather than the living presence of Jesus Christ are considered "enemies of CL."

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sun Mar 17, 2013, 12:52 PM

2. "the torturers knew about doctrinal issues within the church that were part of their interrogation."

Given that between 70% and 90% of Argentines are nominally Catholic:


It would be surprising if the torturers weren't familiar with doctrinal issues!

I am disappointed in Beroglio's stand regarding same sex marriage and reproduction rights, but that does not make him an active supporter of the junta!

I am a great fan of Oscar Romero, but he did not speak out against power until after he became archbishop. One of the ongoing stories of the Catholic Church is the conversion of the heart, going right back to St. Paul.

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Response to hedgehog (Reply #2)

Sun Mar 17, 2013, 01:02 PM

3. Yes. The priests who were tortured made that assumption

based upon questions they were asked - I don't know what those questions were - but that was the basis of their allegations.

It seems like Bergoglio tried to mediate between different factions.

There were some priests and the archbishop who came before him who did actively collaborate and at least one participated in torture and murder of dissidents, but Bergoglio wasn't among them.

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Response to RainDog (Original post)

Sun Mar 17, 2013, 05:36 PM

4. kicking b/c I see the fascist claim is on the front page of du n/t

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