Friday, March 15, 2013

Who is Pope Francis I? (Part 1)

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Pope Francis named by eyewitness as child trafficker
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Pope Francis and the Dirty War

Posted by Jon Lee Anderson
March 15, 2013
The new Pope, Francis the Humble, as he perhaps would like to be known, is an Argentine with a cloudy past. This in itself is not an offense but, rather, is in keeping with a religious institution that has long been marked by secrecy. From the smoke signals with which the papal conclave makes the fact, if not the process, of its decision known to the world to the wide-ranging coverups of sexual abuse involving priests and bishops, the Catholic Church is too often associated in the popular imagination with the darkest kind of institutional opacity.
Some of the cloudiness in Francis’s past has to do with his relative obscurity during the years when he was still known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and with the way that the Church operates in even the calmest times. But much of it also has to do with questions about his real role during the country’s anti-Communist terror three decades ago. Officially called the Process of National Reorganization by the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, the Dirty War, as it is more commonly known, was a comprehensive campaign aimed at the elimination of Communists and others seen as “subversives.” The purge claimed the lives of at least nine thousand people and as many as thirty thousand people, many of them killed in the most gruesome circumstances imaginable. Pregnant women were often held until they gave birth, whereupon they were secretly killed, their babies handed over to childless military families and others close to the regime for adoption. Hundreds of “children of the disappeared” are living today, young people in their early thirties, some of them still unaware that their parents are, in effect, their biological parents’ killers. (Francisco Goldman
has written about these children for The New Yorker.)
Many of the victims were held for months in official institutions, where they were repeatedly tortured before being killed, their bodies “disappeared.” Justifying the purge, which was spoken about euphemistically but carried out in secrecy, the Argentine military espoused a brand of anti-Communist ferocity that echoed Franco’s Fascist witch hunt, which had previously devastated Republican Spain—a brand of ferocity that also shared his deeply entrenched ultra-Catholic and anti-Semitic views.
As in Spain during its Civil War, when the Catholic Church openly sided with Franco’s inquisition, and in Rome during the Second World War, when the silence of Pope Pius XII was understood as a tacit admission of Vatican acquiescence with the policies of the Axis, the role of the Argentine Catholic Church in the junta’s anti-Communist campaign was queasily intimate. In official discourses, one of Bergoglio’s predecessors, Archbishop Juan Carlos Aramburu, openly sided with the military’s stated need for a purge, in which freethinking priests and nuns were also killed. For the most part, the Church remained mute in public about what was going on. But some priests were actually directly involved in the repression, by all accounts, with military chaplains going so far as to bless the drugged bodies of suspected guerrillas marked for execution as they were loaded onto military planes, from which they were then hurled to their deaths, unconscious, over the Rio de la Plata.


There have been past accusations, including testimony from a handful of priests and bishops, that the man who is now Pope Francis was complicit, too, if in a more subtle way. He was, in the early years of the Dirty War, the provincial, or superior, of the Society of Jesus in Argentina, at a time when the Jesuits produced some of the more freethinking and socially liberal clerics in Latin America—a number of whom were targeted by military leaders during the era’s repression—and later led a seminary. The key allegation against him is that he pointed out left-leaning priests to the military as dissidents, leaving them exposed, and that he did not defend two kidnapped clerics or ask for their release. He has denied this, and says instead that he protected priests and others—just quietly, in secret.
”Beyond the details, the main thing is that it’s clear that he was not—by a long shot—at the level needed in the dramatic circumstances,” Gabriel Pasquini, an Argentine playwright and author of the online current-affairs magazine El Puercoespín, told me. There were other clergymen—“Catholic and from other religions”—who “did whatever they could to save lives,” Pasquini added. “For someone who aspires to be a bastion of moral values, it doesn’t seem like a great precedent. Never, in the years he headed the Catholic Church in Argentina, did he acknowledge its complicity in the dictatorship, much less ask for forgiveness. Will he do so now, from the Vatican?”
Whatever the truth, Francis the Humble, it would seem, has much to clear up about what he thought, how he behaved, and what he did during his country’s Dirty War. As with the role of the Church he has long served, it remains a mystery.
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“Washington’s Pope”? Who is Pope Francis I? Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina’s “Dirty War”
By Prof Michel Chossudovsky
Global Research, March 14, 2013
Url of this article:
http://www.globalresearch.ca/washingtons-pope-who-is-francis-i-cardinal-jorge-mario-bergoglio-and-argentinas-dirty-war/5326675
The Vatican conclave has elected Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio as Pope Francis I
Who is Jorge Mario Bergoglio?In 1973, he had been appointed “Provincial” of Argentina for the Society of Jesus.
In this capacity, Bergoglio was the highest ranking Jesuit in Argentina during the military dictatorship led by General Jorge Videla (1976-1983).
He later became bishop and archbishop of Buenos Aires. Pope John Paul II elevated him to the title of cardinal in 2001
When the military junta relinquished power in 1983, the duly elected president Raúl Alfonsín set up a Truth Commission pertaining to the crimes underlying the “Dirty War” (La Guerra Sucia).
The military junta had been supported covertly by Washington.
US. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger played a behind the scenes role in the 1976 military coup.
Kissinger’s top deputy on Latin America, William Rogers, told him two days after the coup that “we’ve got to expect a fair amount of repression, probably a good deal of blood, in Argentina before too long.” … (National Security Archive, March 23, 2006)
“Operation Condor”
Ironically, a major trial opened up in Buenos Aires on March 5, 2013 a week prior to Cardinal Bergoglio’s investiture as Pontiff. The ongoing trial in Buenos Aires is: “to consider the totality of crimes carried out under Operation Condor, a coordinated campaign by various US-backed Latin American dictatorships in the 1970s and 1980s to hunt down, torture and murder tens of thousands of opponents of those regimes.”
Photo above: Henry Kissinger and General Jorge Videla (1970s)
For further details, see
Operation Condor: Trial On Latin American Rendition And Assassination Program By Carlos Osorio and Peter Kornbluh, March 10, 2013
”Videla was among the generals convicted of human rights crimes, including “disappearances”, torture, murders and kidnappings. In 1985, Videla was sentenced to life imprisonment at the military prison of Magdalena.”
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Wall Street and the Neoliberal Economic AgendaOne of the key appointments of the military junta (on the instructions of Wall Street) was the Minister of Economy, Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, a member of Argentina’s business establishment and a close friend of David Rockefeller. (See Image below: From left to right: Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, David Rockefeller and General Jorge Videla)
The neoliberal macro-economic policy package adopted under Martinez de Hoz was a “carbon copy” of that imposed in October 1973 in Chile by the Pinochet dictatorship under advice from the “Chicago Boys”, following the September 11, 1973 coup d’Etat and the assassination of president Salvador Allende.
Wages were immediately frozen by decree. Real purchasing power collapsed by more than 30 percent in the 3 months following the March 24, 1976 military coup. (Author’s estimates, Cordoba, Argentina, July 1976). The Argentinean population was impoverished.
Under the helm of Minister of Economy Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz, central bank monetary policy was largely determined by Wall Street and the IMF. The currency market was manipulated. The Peso was deliberately overvalued leading to an insurmountable external debt. The entire national economy was precipitated into bankruptcy.
Wall Street and the Catholic Church Hierarchy
Wall Street was firmly behind the military Junta which waged “The Dirty War” on its behalf. In turn, the Catholic Church hierarchy played a central role in sustaining the legitimacy of the military Junta.
The Order of Jesus –which represented the Conservative yet most influential faction within the Catholic Church, closely associated with Argentina’s economic elites– was firmly behind the military Junta, against so-called “Leftists” in the Peronista movement.

Image Left: Jorge Mario Bergoglio and General Jorge Videla
Bergoglio, who at the time was “Provincial” for the Society of Jesus, had ordered two “Leftist” Jesuit priests “to leave their pastoral work” (i.e. they were fired) following divisions within the Society of Jesus regarding the role of the Catholic Church and its relations to the military Junta.
Condemning the military dictatorship (including human rights violations) was a taboo within the Catholic Church. While the upper echelons of the Church were supportive of the military Junta, the grassroots of the Church was firmly opposed to the imposition of military rule.
In 2010, the survivors of the “Dirty War” accused Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio of complicity in the kidnapping of two members of the Society of Jesus Francisco Jalics y Orlando Yorio, (El Mundo, 8 November 2010)
In the course of the trial initiated in 2005, “Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court, and when he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive”:
“At least two cases directly involved Bergoglio. One examined the torture of two of his Jesuit priests — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — who were kidnapped in 1976 from the slums where they advocated liberation theology. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads… by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Jalics refused to discuss it after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.” (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2005)
The accusations directed against Bergoglio regarding the two kidnapped Jesuit priests are but the tip of the iceberg. The entire Catholic hierarchy was behind the Military Junta. According to lawyer Myriam Bregman: “Bergoglio’s own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens, and yet publicly endorsed the dictators. “The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support,” (Los Angeles Times, April 1, 2005 emphasis added)

Holy Communion for the Dictators

(image right: General Jorge Videla takes communion from priest Jorge Mario Bergoglio)

The Catholic hierarchy was tacitly complicit in torture and mass killings, an estimated “22,000 dead and disappeared, from 1976 to 1978 … Thousands of additional victims were killed between 1978 and 1983 when the military was forced from power.” (National Security Archive, March 23, 2006)
The Catholic Church: Chile versus ArgentinaIt is worth noting that in the wake of the military coup in Chile on September 11,1973, the Cardinal of Santiago de Chile, Raul Silva Henriquez openly condemned the military junta led by General Augusto Pinochet. In marked contrast to Argentina, this stance of the Catholic hierarchy in Chile was instrumental in curbing the tide of political assassinations and human rights violations directed against supporters of Salvador Allende and opponents of the military regime.
Had Jorge Mario Bergoglio taken a similar stance to that of Cardinal Raul Silva Henriquez, thousands of lives would have been saved.
“Operation Condor” and the Catholic ChurchThe election of Cardinal Bergoglio by the Vatican conclave to serve as Pope Francis I will have immediate repercussions regarding the ongoing “Operation Condor” Trial in Buenos Aires.
The Church was involved in supporting the military Junta. This is something which will emerge in course of the trial proceedings. No doubt, there will be attempts to obfuscate the role of the Catholic hierarchy and the newly appointed pope Francis I, who served as head of Argentina’s Jesuit order during the military dictatorship.
Jorge Mario Bergoglio: “Washington’s Pope in the Vatican”? The election of Pope Francis I has broad geopolitical implications for the entire Latin American region.
In the 1970s, Jorge Mario Bergoglio was supportive of a US sponsored military dictatorship.
The Catholic hierarchy in Argentina supported the military government.
Wall Street’s interests were sustained through Jose Alfredo Martinez de Hoz’ office at the Ministry of Economy.
The Catholic Church in Latin America is politically influential. It also has a grip on public opinion. This is known and understood by the architects of US foreign policy.
In Latin America, where a number of governments are now challenging US hegemony, one would expect –given Bergoglio’s track record– that the new Pontiff Francis I as leader of the Catholic Church, will play de facto, a discrete “undercover” political role on behalf of Washington.
With Jorge Bergoglio, Pope Francis I in the Vatican (who faithfully served US interests in the heyday of General Jorge Videla) the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Latin America can once again be effectively manipulated to undermine “progressive” (Leftist) governments, not only in Argentina (in relation to the government of Cristina Kirschner) but throughout the entire region, including Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.
The instatement of “a pro-US pope” occurred a week following the death of president Hugo Chavez.
Washington and Wall Street’s Pope in the Vatican?The US State Department routinely pressures members of the United Security Council with a view to influencing the vote pertaining to Security Council resolutions.
US covert operations and propaganda campaigns are routinely applied with a view to influencing national elections in different countries around the World.
Did the US government attempt to influence the election of the new pontiff? Jorge Mario Bergoglio was Washington’s preferred candidate.
Were undercover pressures discretely exerted by Washington, within the Catholic Church, directly or indirectly, on the 115 cardinals who are members of the Vatican conclave, leading to the election of a pontiff who will faithfully serve US foreign policy interests in Latin America?
Author’s Note
From the outset of the military regime in 1976, I was Visiting Professor at the Social Policy Institute of the Universidad Nacional de Cordoba, Argentina. My major research focus at the time was to investigate the social impacts of the deadly macroeconomic reforms adopted by the military Junta.
I was teaching at the University of Cordoba during the initial wave of assassinations which also targeted progressive grassroots members of the Catholic clergy.
The Northern industrial city of Cordoba was the center of the resistance movement. I witnessed how the Catholic hierarchy actively and routinely supported the military junta, creating an atmosphere of intimidation and fear throughout the country. The general feeling at the time was that Argentinians had been betrayed by the upper echelons of the Catholic Church.
Three years earlier, at the time of Chile’s September 11, 1973 military coup, leading to the overthrow of the Popular Unity government of Salvador Allende, I was Visiting Professor at the Institute of Economics, Catholic University of Chile, Santiago de Chile.
In the immediate wake of the coup in Chile, I witnessed how the Cardinal of Santiago, Raul Silva Henriquez –acting on behalf of the Catholic Church– confronted the military dictatorship.
Copyright © 2013 Global Research
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Pope Francis haunted by Argentina’s Dirty War

news.scotsman.com
by Stephen McGinty
14 March 2013

Relatives of those who disappeared during Argentina’s “Dirty War” criticised the new Pope yesterday, saying Francis had failed to confront the military dictatorship in his country.
Some 30,000 people were killed during the war and relatives of victims have claimed the new pontiff had a “very cowardly attitude” towards the regime.
The allegations came as it was revealed the former Cardinal Archbishop of Buenos Aires lobbied the Vatican to make the Falkland Islands part of an Argentinian diocese and said of the Argentinian invasion that soldiers “went out to demand what is the motherland’s and what was usurped”.
The Argentine president, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, hinted yesterday that she wants Francis to help secure the islands’ return and used a television address to urge him to “carry the message to the great world powers that they participate in dialogue”.
In 1982, Argentina, led by General Leopoldo Galtieri – a leading light in its governing junta since 1976 – invaded the Falklands. The junta’s ambitious leaders gained power by coup and counter-coup, jailing and murdering political opponents.
Yesterday, Monsignor Michael McParland, whose “parish” extends across the Falklands, said he was delighted by the election of the new Pope and insisted Francis would receive a warm welcome should he ever visit.
“He will be received as the Pope, and will be listened to as the Pope, doesn’t matter where he comes from.”
However, Estela de la Cuadra, whose mother co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, the activist group that campaigned during the dictatorship in Argentina for the return of the disappeared, said the new leader of the Catholic Church had a “very cowardly attitude”.
Mario José Bergoglio was accused of turning his back on the de la Cuadra family, which lost five relatives to state terror, including Estela’s sister Elena, who was five months pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977.
The family appealed to the leader of the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Bergoglio to help them. Bergoglio then assigned a monsignor to talk with police, who said the woman, as a communist, was doomed, but she had given birth in captivity to a girl who was given to a family “too important” for the adoption to be reversed.
Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he did not know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over. Yesterday Ms de la Cuadra said: “Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies. The question is how to save his name, save himself. But he can’t keep these allegations from reaching the public.”
Other activists remain angry over the positions Bergoglio has taken in recent years as Argentina launched investigations into those responsible for the killings, insisting that he is more interested in saving face.
He twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court in trials involving torture and murder inside the notorious Navy Mechanics School – used as a jail – and the theft of babies from detainees.
When he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive, critics said.
Some leading Argentine human rights activists, however, insist that Bergoglio does not deserve to be lumped with church figures who were aligned with the dictatorship.
“Perhaps he didn’t have the courage of other priests, but he never collaborated with the dictatorship,” said Adolfo Perez
Esquivel, who won the 1980 Nobel Peace Prize for documenting the junta’s atrocities.
According to his biographer, Bergoglio took risks to save subversives, including passing his identity papers to a wanted man with a similar appearance which allowed him to escape to Brazil.
Yet the most damning accusation against Bergoglio is that in 1976, as the leader of the country’s Jesuits, he withdrew support for two slum priests – Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics – whose activist colleagues in the liberation theology movement were disappearing. The priests were kidnapped and tortured at the Navy Mechanics School.
Bergoglio had said he told the priests to give up their work for their own safety. They refused.
In order to secure their release, Bergoglio persuaded the family priest of Jorge Videla, then the country’s dictator, to call in sick so that he could say mass instead. Once inside the junta leader’s home, Bergoglio appealed for mercy.
His biographer insists that at time when a number of bishops supported the junta, while others challenged the regime, Bergoglio trod a fine middle line.
Under his leadership, Argentina’s bishops issued an apology in 2012 for the church’s failures to protect its flock during the dictatorship, but the statement blamed the era’s violence on both the junta and its enemies.
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Pope Francis and Argentina's Dirty War
The Current
Anna Maria Tremonti
Thursday, March 14, 2013
Retired Argentinian Ambassador, Luis Mendiola
Jorge Mario Bergoglio originally studied as a chemist. But it was some remarkable Alchemy that transformed the former archbishop of Buenos Aires into the first Pope from the New World. And the man who will oversee the Catholic church as Pope Francis has more challenging transmutations ahead.
Outrage over the sexual abuse scandals that plague the Church has driven many Catholics away. His orthodox views on abortion, same-sex marriage, and contraception would seem unlikely to attract many 21st century converts. And Argentina's own relationship with the Catholic Church from the time of its Dirty War remains controversial.
All daunting issues to tackle, but our next guest thinks Pope Francis is up for the job. Luis Mendiola is a retired Argentinian ambassador. In the 1980s, he served as councillor of the Argentinean Embassy to the Holy See in Rome. Today he joined us from Buenos Aires.
Former Editor of Buenos Aires Herald, Robert Cox
Many Roman Catholics in Argentina have an uncomfortable relationship with their church because of its failure to openly confront a dictatorial regime that kidnapped and killed as many as thirty-thousand citizens in the seven years of the so-called Dirty War - from 1976 to 1983.
It was under Cardinal Bergoglio's leadership just five months ago that Argentina's bishops issued a collective apology to the nation for their failures. But despite that, it is a history laden with ongoing controversy.
Robert Cox is the former editor of the English-language Buenos Aires Herald, one of the only newspapers to aggressively cover what the Argentinian government was doing at that time. He was forced to leave Argentina in 1979 due to his criticisms of the dictatorship. Robert Cox was in Charleston, South Carolina.
Listen to our conversation from September 2009 with Robert Cox and his son, David Cox who tells his father's story in the book called Dirty Secrets, Dirty War - the Exile of Editor Robert J. Cox.
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Catholic writer and commentator, Clifford Longley
Argentineans may be conflicted about the new Pope's past, but to look forward, we were joined by Clifford Longley. He's a Catholic writer and commentator. He has acted as a consultant to the Catholic Bishops' Conference in England and Wales. He was in London, England.
This segment was produced by The Current's Lara O'Brien, Vanessa Greco, Hassan Santur and Shannon Higgins.
We'd love to hear what you think about this segment or anything you hear on The Current. Tweet us @thecurrentcbc. Follow us on Facebook. Or e-mail us through our website. Call us toll-free at 1 877 287 7366. And you can always write to us at PO Box 500, Station A, Toronto, M5W 1E6.
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Jorge Bergoglio: Who is the new pope?

CBS/AP
March 13, 2013

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Jorge Mario Bergoglio - who will be now known as Pope Francis - has spent nearly his entire career at home in Argentina, overseeing churches and shoe-leather priests.
The 76-year-old archbishop of Buenos Aires reportedly got the second-most votes after Joseph Ratzinger in the 2005 papal election, and he has long specialized in the kind of pastoral work that some say is an essential skill for the next pope. He is the first Jesuit to be elected pope.
In a lifetime of teaching and leading priests in Latin America, which has the largest share of the world's Catholics, Bergoglio has shown a keen political sensibility as well as the kind of self-effacing humility that fellow cardinals value highly.
Papal expert Christopher Bellitto told CBSNews.com said he was surprised by Bergoglio's election but noted that the new pope's credibility and simplicity will serve the church well.
"He looks like he can sit on the park bench with a lot of people along the ideological spectrum - and that I think is critical," Bellitto said.
Bergoglio is known for modernizing an Argentine church that had been among the most conservative in Latin America.
Bergoglio is known to be conservative on spiritual issues. He opposes abortion, same-sex marriage
and supports celibacy. However, according to the National Cathedral Reporter's John Allen, "he's no defender of clerical privilege, or insensitive to pastoral realities."
Allen notes that in 2012, the archbishop assailed priests who refused to baptize children born out of wedlock, calling it a form of "rigorous and hypocritical neo-clericalism."
Bergoglio has also displayed sympathy for HIV-AIDS victims. According to Allen, in 2001 Bergoglio visited a hospice to kiss the feet of a dozen AIDS patients.
Bergoglio often rode the bus to work, cooked his own meals and regularly visited the slums that ring Argentina's capital. He considers social outreach, rather than doctrinal battles, to be the essential business of the church.
He accused fellow church leaders of hypocrisy and forgetting that Jesus Christ bathed lepers and ate with prostitutes.
"Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit," Bergoglio told Argentina's priests last year.
Bergoglio's legacy as cardinal includes his efforts to repair the reputation of a church that lost many followers by failing to openly challenge Argentina's murderous 1976-83 dictatorship. He also worked to recover the church's traditional political influence in society, but his outspoken criticism of President Cristina Kirchner couldn't stop her from imposing socially liberal measures that are anathema to the church, from gay marriage and adoption to free contraceptives for all.
"In our ecclesiastical region there are priests who don't baptize the children of single mothers because they weren't conceived in the sanctity of marriage," Bergoglio told his priests. "These are today's hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church. Those who separate the people of God from salvation. And this poor girl who, rather than returning the child to sender, had the courage to carry it into the world, must wander from parish to parish so that it's baptized!"
Bergoglio compared this concept of Catholicism, "this Church of `come inside so we make decisions and announcements between ourselves and those who don't come in, don't belong," to the Pharisees of Christ's time — people who congratulate themselves while condemning all others.
This sort of pastoral work, aimed at capturing more souls and building the flock, was an essential skill for any religious leader in the modern era, said Bergoglio's authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin.
But Bergoglio himself felt most comfortable taking a very low profile, and his personal style was the antithesis of Vatican splendor. "It's a very curious thing: When bishops meet, he always wants to sit in the back rows. This sense of humility is very well seen in Rome," Rubin said before the 2013
conclave to choose Benedict's successor.
Bergoglio's influence seemed to stop at the presidential palace door after Nestor Kirchner and then his wife, Cristina Fernandez, took over the Argentina's government. His outspoken criticism couldn't prevent Argentina from becoming the Latin American country to legalize gay marriage, or stop Fernandez from promoting free contraception and artificial insemination.
His church had no say when the Argentine Supreme Court expanded access to legal abortions in rape cases, and when Bergoglio argued that gay adoptions discriminate against children, Fernandez compared his tone to "medieval times and the Inquisition."
This kind of demonization is unfair, says Rubin, who obtained an extremely rare interview of Bergoglio for his biography, the "The Jesuit."
"Is Bergoglio a progressive — a liberation theologist even? No. He's no third-world priest. Does he criticize the International Monetary Fund, and neoliberalism? Yes. Does he spend a great deal of time in the slums? Yes," Rubin said.
Bergoglio has stood out for his austerity. Even after he became Argentina's top church official in 2001, he never lived in the ornate church mansion where Pope John Paul II stayed when visiting the country, preferring a simple bed in a downtown building, heated by a small stove on frigid weekends. For years, he took public transportation around the city, and cooked his own meals.
Bergoglio almost never granted media interviews, limiting himself to speeches from the pulpit, and was reluctant to contradict his critics, even when he knew their allegations against him were false, said Rubin.
That attitude was burnished as human rights activists tried to force him to answer uncomfortable questions about what church officials knew and did about the dictatorship's abuses after the 1976 coup.
Many Argentines remain angry over the church's acknowledged failure to openly confront a regime that was kidnapping and killing thousands of people as it sought to eliminate "subversive elements" in society. It's one reason why more than two-thirds of Argentines describe themselves as Catholic, but fewer than 10 percent regularly attend mass.
Under Bergoglio's leadership, Argentina's bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the church's failures to protect its flock. But the statement blamed the era's violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.
"Bergoglio has been very critical of human rights violations during the dictatorship, but he has always also criticized the leftist guerrillas; he doesn't forget that side," Rubin said.
The bishops also said "we exhort those who have information about the location of stolen babies, or who know where bodies were secretly buried, that they realize they are morally obligated to inform the pertinent authorities."
That statement came far too late for some activists, who accused Bergoglio of being more concerned about the church's image than about aiding the many human rights investigations of the Kirchners' era.
Bergoglio twice invoked his right under Argentine law to refuse to appear in open court, and when he eventually did testify in 2010, his answers were evasive, human rights attorney Myriam Bregman said.
At least two cases directly involved Bergoglio. One examined the torture of two of his Jesuit priests — Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics — who were kidnapped in 1976 from the slums where they advocated liberation theology. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Jalics refused to discuss it after moving into seclusion in a German monastery.
Both men were freed after Bergoglio took extraordinary, behind-the-scenes action to save them — including persuading dictator Jorge Videla's family priest to call in sick so that he could say Mass in the junta leader's home, where he privately appealed for mercy. His intervention likely saved their lives, but Bergoglio never shared the details until Rubin interviewed him for the 2010 biography.
Bergoglio — who ran Argentina's Jesuit order during the dictatorship — told Rubin that he regularly hid people on church property during the dictatorship, and once gave his identity papers to a man with similar features, enabling him to escape across the border. But all this was done in secret, at a time when church leaders publicly endorsed the junta and called on Catholics to restore their "love for country" despite the terror in the streets.
Rubin said failing to challenge the dictators was simply pragmatic at a time when so many people were getting killed, and attributed Bergoglio's later reluctance to share his side of the story as a reflection of his humility.
But Bregman said Bergoglio's own statements proved church officials knew from early on that the junta was torturing and killing its citizens, and yet publicly endorsed the dictators. "The dictatorship could not have operated this way without this key support," she said.
Bergoglio also was accused of turning his back on a family that lost five relatives to state terror, including a young woman who was 5-months' pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977. The De la Cuadra family appealed to the leader of the Jesuits in Rome, who urged Bergoglio to help them; Bergoglio then assigned a monsignor to the case. Months passed before the monsignor came back with a written note from a colonel: It revealed that the woman had given birth in captivity to a girl who was given to a family "too important" for the adoption to be reversed.
Despite this written evidence in a case he was personally involved with, Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he didn't know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over.
"Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies. He says he didn't know anything about it until 1985," said the baby's aunt, Estela de la Cuadra, whose mother Alicia co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo in 1977 in hopes of identifying these babies. "He doesn't face this reality and it doesn't bother him. The question is how to save his name, save himself. But he can't keep these allegations from reaching the public. The people know how he is."
Initially trained as a chemist, Bergoglio taught literature, psychology, philosophy and theology before taking over as Buenos Aires archbishop in 1998. He became cardinal in 2001, when the economy was collapsing, and won respect for blaming unrestrained capitalism for impoverishing millions of Argentines.
Later, there was little love lost between Bergoglio and Fernandez. Their relations became so frigid that the president stopped attending his annual "Te Deum" address, when church leaders traditionally tell political leaders what's wrong with society.
During the dictatorship era, other church leaders only feebly mentioned a need to respect human rights. When Bergoglio spoke to the powerful, he was much more forceful. In his 2012 address, he said Argentina was being harmed by demagoguery, totalitarianism, corruption and efforts to secure unlimited power. The message resonated in a country whose president was ruling by decree, where political scandals rarely were punished and where top ministers openly lobbied for Fernandez to rule indefinitely.
Editor's note: It was initially reported that Francis lost an entire lung during surgery as a teenager, but the Vatican said Thursday that he had only lost part of one. It provided no further details.
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