The Guardian newspaper is reporting that Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, newly elected as the Catholic Church’s new Pope, Francis, has some hard questions to and answer over his conduct during Argentina’s military dictatorship. Writing in The Guardian, Hugh O’Shaugnessy refers to Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky’s book El Silencio, and notes:
[Verbitsky] recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship’s political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. 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 imprisonment.
While undoubtedly a triumph for the Catholic faithful in Latin America and, as Rogelio Núñez has written, a canny geopolitical choice that moves the centre of gravity of the Church away from secular Europe to the more devout and socially stable Latin America, there are now almost certainly going to be questions asked about where the Vatican stands on questions of fundamental human rights and how the new Pope’s past fits into this tradition. That the Vatican has itself made choices that open up these questions is somewhat remarkable given the pro-democracy and human rights legacy of Pope John Paul II.
Update… this story keeps getting deeper, now in Buenos Aires paper Pagina 12.
The BBC Español has now come out with a bit of a counter-story giving some more background and context.
And now the New York Times has weighed in on the debate.
A controversial figure, and one that seems set to create a bit of a tussle between some competing news outlets, too.
Evidence out of Paraguay that the new Pope was protecting people from dictatorships in the region — regional dictators cooperated in their persecution through Operation Condor.