Skip to main content

in this column from this morning's Washington Post.

By now increasing numbers of people are aware and demonstrating some concern for the role the then Jesuit Provincial supervisor played during Argentina's "Dirty War."  Robinson puts in bluntly at the beginning of his column:

They are impolite questions, but they must be asked: What did Jorge Mario Bergoglio know, and when did he know it, about Argentina’s brutal “Dirty War” against suspected leftists, in which thousands were tortured and killed? More important, what did the newly chosen Pope Francis do?
 The link goes to a Post story in which the new Pope's authorized biography argues that he took actions that saved lives.  Before returning to Robinson's column, and also in providing some of the context in which he writes, allow me to quote two paragraphs from that story:  
But others say Bergoglio’s rise through the Argentine church since then has put him in many positions of power where he could have done more to atone for the sins of Catholic officials who did actively conspire with the dictators. Some priests even worked inside torture centers, and blessed those doing the killing.

And now that Argentina is actively putting former dictatorship figures on trial for human rights violations, they say he’s been more concerned about preserving the church’s image than providing evidence that could lead to convictions.

Please keep reading.

I am going to push fair use a bit by quoting two long paragraphs from Robinson's column because they lay out starkly why the questions need in the minds of many to be fully addressed:  

The dictatorship in Argentina was the most savage of all. At least 10,000, and perhaps as many as 30,000, people suspected of leftist involvement were killed. Victims would be snatched from their homes or places of work, interrogated under torture for weeks or months, and then executed. Some were dispatched by being drugged, loaded into aircraft and shoved out into the wide Rio de la Plata or the Atlantic Ocean to drown.

The church in Argentina, however, was comparatively passive in the face of this horror — some would say complicit. Church leaders never confronted the military regime the way their counterparts in Chile did; nor did they encourage or even permit grass-roots activism at the parish level, as developed in Brazil. On the contrary, the church allowed Argentina’s ruling generals and admirals to cloak themselves in religiosity and claim that somehow, in their sinister rampage, they were serving God’s will.

It is worth noting, and Robinson does, that in its silence and even complicity in the atrocities of the dictatorship, the Argentinian Church was an anomaly in Latin America - in most cases church officials - and especially those in Bergoglio's Jesuit order - were in the forefront of opposition to the dictators, and often paid the price, for example in El Salvador.

Robinson goes through much of the history, in some detail.

He rightly acknowledges that led by the then Carindal Bergoglio, the Argentinian Church last year

issued a blanket apology for having failed to protect the church’s flock during the dictatorship. That the church was tragically remiss is no longer in question, if it ever was.
So even while welcoming the apology, one still has questions.

Why did it take so long to acknowledge the Church leadership's failings, particularly in a Church in which the Sacrament of Penance (confession and absolution) plays such an important part in the spirituality of the individual members?

Robinson is interested not so much in what the new Pope did or did not do during the dirty war - unlike some Prelates he did not collaborate openly with the dictators, but unlike others -  for example the martyred Archbishop Oscar Romero in El Salvador - neither did he openly oppose them.  He was in between these extremes. So, Robinson wonders, what if any lessons did he learn?

Robinson writes of Bergoglio, now Francis I, that

He disapproved, surely. He did what he could. But by his own admission, he didn’t try to change the world.
Why then does Robinson still have questions?  Perhaps that is addressed in his final 2 sentences:
Now he has more than the duty to lead 1.2 billion Catholics. He also has a chance to atone.
The Pope often speaks as a supposed moral leader on issues of importance in the world. We fully expect Francis I to maintain the church's conservative positions on abortion and gay rights issues like marriage equality (although as Cardinal Francis went further than most in his belief that condoms could be acceptable to prevent disease).  We certainly want his voice to carry all the power it can in matters of economic justice, of overcoming economic inequality, in not ignoring the needs of the poor.

That voice will have its power diminished so long as the Church does not FULLY acknowledge when its officials have acted in shameful ways.  The cooperation with the dictators is one case where atonement is warranted.  The world-wide coverup of abuse of children by priests and even prelates is surely another.  The financial entanglement of the Vatican with mobsters and corrupt financiers is yet another.

Of these three issues, Pope Francis has a direct connection with one.  He can well start by making a clear and public atonement for the Church's failure to stand on moral principle.

Read the Robinson column.  All of it.

Thanks.

EMAIL TO A FRIEND X
Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags

?

More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

    by teacherken on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:42:21 AM PDT

  •  I suppose the once may be a coincidence (0+ / 0-)

    but twice in a row is definitely a pattern!!

  •  the guardian (6+ / 0-)

    has a good article. it remains unclear whether he just had failures of omission or actually had failures of commission, but some of the people directly involved are speaking out.

    "I can't believe it, I don't know what to do, I'm in so much anguish and so enraged," wrote Graciela Yorio in an email published in the Argentine press on Thursday morning.

    In 1976, her brother, Orlando Yorio, along with another Jesuit priest, Francisco Jalics, were seized by navy troops in the slums of Buenos Aires and held and tortured for five months at the ESMA camp, a navy base in the capital where 5,000 people were murdered by the military junta.

    The two priests served under Bergoglio, who is accused in some quarters of abandoning them to the military after they became involved in leftist social movements.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/...

    The cold passion for truth hunts in no pack. -Robinson Jeffers

    by Laurence Lewis on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:52:22 AM PDT

  •  I happened to be in Arusha Tanzania during the (4+ / 0-)

    Rwandan Genocide Trials. I spent an afternoon of a vacation listening to testimony regarding the actions of a priest during the bloody campaign. There were witnesses who spoke on behalf of the priest, telling the court he sheltered their families at considerable risk to himself, others said they had first hand knowledge of his complicity in turning people over for execution. (He was eventually found guilty.)

    We have first hand accounts of Pope Francis's direct complicity as well as evidence he saved others. Atonement is usually preceded by confession. I imagine that is no longer possible given his rise to power. The best we can hope is that he continues to advocate for the poor, for elimination of crushing debt payments inflicted on third world countries and an end to ultra-conservative in sexual/social rhetoric. (Gays are not agents of the devil last time I checked.) When a country like Argentina thumbs their nose at his pronouncements regarding gay marriage, you know both the sentiment and message needs radical adjustment.

    Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

    by the fan man on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 08:56:34 AM PDT

  •  I Doubt The Catholic Church Will Admit Wrong (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man

    doing on anything.  It is the George W. Bush/Cheney philosophy not admitting any guilt or mistakes.  The catholic church is very sad on how they are so backwards and are for the rich just like the GOP.  This pope will be no different.  If he was to atone he should come out for contraception not being a sin, and say that gay members are not sinners.

    "Don't Let Them Catch You With Your Eyes Closed"

    by rssrai on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:06:01 AM PDT

    •  The best comment I read regarding this (0+ / 0-)

      was on that point: whether he is guilty or innocent may never be properly tried, but the Vatican's response "nothing to talk about" is something this Pope can work to change...if he wishes. People no longer listen to the Vatican, or the Pope and say "oh, they must be telling the truth".

      Even if I knew that tomorrow the world would go to pieces, I would still plant my apple tree. -Martin Luther

      by the fan man on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 09:10:51 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  complicity in the dirty war? (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    the fan man, happymisanthropy, CayceP

    For a second, I thought you were talking about Reagan. Recently it came out, as part of an accountability trial, that Reagan was well aware of all the abuses, including baby harvesting, whereby the Junta would wait for mothers to give birth and then push them out of airplanes.

    Sick, sick stuff.

  •  Even last night Robinson was getting h8 mail... (0+ / 0-)

    ...the last Pope was conservative, but @ least he loves cats.

    I think that this Pope might like KILLING cats!

    I'm not anti-Catholic or anti-God, but this stuff needs to be addressed.

  •  Good post (0+ / 0-)

    Tipped and rec'd

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 10:43:07 AM PDT

  •  Thinking of Goethe's Faust... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    johanus, CayceP, wintergreen8694
    “You can’t, if you can’t feel it, if it never
    Rises from the soul, and sways
    The heart of every single hearer,
    With deepest power, in simple ways.
    You’ll sit forever, gluing things together,
    Cooking up a stew from other’s scraps,
    Blowing on a miserable fire,
    Made from your heap of dying ash.
    Let apes and children praise your art,
    If their admiration’s to your taste,
    But you’ll never speak from heart to heart,
    Unless it rises up from your heart’s space.”
    ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Faust
    It is a tall order "to speak from heart to heart." A very tall order.

    Also the following is too close for comfort:

    On the contrary, the church allowed Argentina’s ruling generals and admirals to cloak themselves in religiosity and claim that somehow, in their sinister rampage, they were serving God’s will.
    Bolding is mine.

    Yeah. Too close.

    "Corruptio Optimi Pessima" (Corruption of the best is the worst)

    by zenox on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 11:01:16 AM PDT

  •  Thanks as always for your diary. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    teacherken

    I'm in the middle of an outline of the history now, I will be sure to link to yours.

    You said the air was singing / it's calling you, you don't believe / These things you've never seen / Never heard, never dreamed.

    by CayceP on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 11:28:53 AM PDT

  •  Answer from the Vatican (0+ / 0-)
    Vatican: anti-clerical campaign against pope

    VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican lashed out Friday at what it called a "defamatory" and "anti-clerical left-wing" campaign to discredit Pope Francis over his actions during Argentina's 1976-1983 military junta, saying no credible accusation had ever stuck against the new pope.

    While the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, like most other Argentines, failed to openly confront the murderous dictatorship, human rights activists differ on how much responsibility he personally deserves. Bergoglio ran the Jesuit order in Argentina during the dictatorship.

    The Vatican spokesman the Rev. Federico Lombardi noted Friday that a Jesuit who was kidnapped during the dictatorship in a case that involved Bergoglio had issued a statement earlier in the day saying the two had reconciled.

    Lombardi also noted that Argentine courts had never accused Bergoglio of any crime and that, on the contrary, there is ample evidence of the role he played protecting people from the military as it kidnapped and killed thousands of people in a "dirty war" to eliminate leftist opponents.

    He said the accusations were made long ago "by anti-clerical left-wing elements to attack the church and must be decisively rejected."

    http://xfinity.comcast.net/...
  •  And if he did, (0+ / 0-)
    He can well start by making a clear and public atonement for the Church's failure to stand on moral principle.
    how would it influence you, if at all.
  •  Ordinarily... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mike Kahlow

    I'm in full agreement with your posts...but...I'm afraid I find some cognitive dissonance between this sentence

    That voice will have its power diminished so long as the Church does not FULLY acknowledge when its officials have acted in shameful ways.  
    and this sentence
    We fully expect Francis I to maintain the church's conservative positions on abortion and gay rights issues like marriage equality
    How can the "voice" of the papacy have any legitimacy at all when it is filled with cruelty and hatred toward gay and lesbian people?  

    You correctly, in my judgment, don't expect the new pope to acknowledge the church's shameful treatment of gay and lesbian people.  Thus, FULLY acknowledging (your emphasis) shameful behavior isn't going to happen.

    The voice of the papacy will thus now and for the foreseeable future have its voice diminished.  Acknowledging the church's role in the dirty war--too late, as always--is rather like "forgiving" Galileo centuries later.  What matters is what the pope can do now, for living breathing people.  For LGBT people, he is already a lost cause.  If you believe "what you do to these, the least of my children, you do to me," the papacy is a lost cause for everyone.

    Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

    by mathGuyNTulsa on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 01:04:13 PM PDT

    •  while I disagree with the church's teachings (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      mathGuyNTulsa

      on a number of subjects, I see no dissonance in what I wrote, because the Church is continuing to teach what it believes.  That you and I object to that teaching is not the measure

      that said -  even given that the church has a self-perpetuating hierarchy, that under the last two Popes titled further conservative/traditional does not mean it is going to continue in that direction.

      If Francis moves the church away from hyperclericalism, it will eventually have to acknowledge that they have lost most of their faithful on things like birth control and are even starting to lose them on gay rights issues such as marriage equality.

      Consider where same sex marriage is now legal

      it is now fully legal in Argentina

      In Brazil civil unions are national and if a state recognizes same sex marriage that is respected and recognized across the country, and among the states that have are Bahia and Sao Paolo

      Mexico City

      Belgium

      Portugal

      Spain

      and I am only listing countries with large numbers of Catholics

      we could do the same with US States

      All of New England except RI has marriage equality and RI has civil unions

      MA  41% Catholic (3r highest)
      CT   36.7
      NH   24.3

      RI is almost 60%

      simply put, an increasing percentage of the world's Catholics are going to live in jurisdictions where same-sex marriage is recognized, they are going to know - even be related to - people in such marriage.

      The Church will eventually have to adapt or risk losing its faithful

      "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

      by teacherken on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 01:35:37 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I really don't want to argue with you (0+ / 0-)

        ...because I know your heart is in the right place.

        I suspect what I'm reading and what you meant to write are two different things.

        The Pope has undisputed authority: what he says and does moves people.  The Pope claims that authority is "moral." It is not. That assigns an attribute--morality--to the Pope he does not possess.  By his words and deeds, he has scapegoated and demonized innocent people.  He has nothing but hatred in his heart for gay and lesbian people.  By no measure is that "moral," and hence by no measure is the Pope "moral."

        I don't object to discussions of the Pope's authority. What I object to is suggesting that he has "moral" authority.  

        In my hometown in the 1920's, the Ku Klux Klan was known for charitable works--for whites.  It even advocated a kind of populist social justice--for whites.  It certainly had authority.  It even claimed "moral" authority from the Bible, just like the Pope.  But I'm sure  we'd both agree it in fact had no "moral" authority.  I fail utterly to see how this is different just because he's the Pope.

        Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic. -- Arthur C. Clarke

        by mathGuyNTulsa on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 03:03:02 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  sorry, he only has undisputed authority (0+ / 0-)

          speaking ex cathedra, when according to Catholic Doctrine he cannot err

          there is the reality that there is a large bureacracy much of which is self-perpetuating.

          He cannot unilaterally come out and declare doctrine to be totally changed and not have the Curia openly rebel -  he has to establish a theological basis for the change in order to have it accepted.

          "We didn't set out to save the world; we set out to wonder how other people are doing and to reflect on how our actions affect other people's hearts." - Pema Chodron

          by teacherken on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 06:42:42 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition! (0+ / 0-)

    If I ran this circus, things would be DIFFERENT!

    by CwV on Fri Mar 15, 2013 at 02:41:35 PM PDT

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site