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Thursday, March 14, 2013

Pope Francis Faces Questions About ‘Dirty War’

Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter's Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Pope Francis waves to the crowd from the central balcony of St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, Wednesday, March 13, 2013. (Gregorio Borgia/AP)

Pope Francis’s humility was on full display today in Rome — he stopped by his hotel to pick up his luggage and pay the bill himself. He is using a simple car today, not the luxury sedan that was ready for him, and yesterday he gave up the car entirely to ride on the bus with the Cardinals who elected him.

All confirming the image of him in Argentina, of a humble Jesuit priest who preferred to be called Father even after being made Cardinal and, and celebrated for taking the bus.

But there re also questions today about what actions then Father Bergoglio took during the country’s so-called “dirty war.” That was the period from 1976 to 1983 when the ruling military junta tortured and killed at least 13 thousand people according to some estimates. Others put the number of people killed closer to 30 thousand.

The victims were largely leftists, including many militants, but the government also targeted union leaders and Catholic priests who championed the poor, including those who followed Liberation Theology, which believes that liberating people from injustice and poverty is the core of Christian teaching.

Under the leadership of Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, now Pope Francis, Argentina’s Catholic leaders apologized for their human rights failures.

Now questions are being asked about what Father Bergoglio’s stand was at that time and if he failed personally to protect priests targeted by the government.


  • Veronica Smink, BBC reporter in Buenos Aires.

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