Vatican denies Pope stayed silent during dictatorship

ROME Fri Mar 15, 2013 7:15pm IST

Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, leads a a mass with cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, in a picture released by Osservatore Romano at the Vatican March 14, 2013. REUTERS/Osservatore Romano

Newly elected Pope Francis I, Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Argentina, leads a a mass with cardinals at the Sistine Chapel, in a picture released by Osservatore Romano at the Vatican March 14, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Osservatore Romano

ROME (Reuters) - The Vatican on Friday strongly denied accusations by some critics in Argentina that Pope Francis stayed silent during systematic human rights abuses by the former military dictatorship.

Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi told reporters the accusations: "Must be clearly and firmly denied." He added that, "They reveal anti-clerical left-wing elements that are used to attack the Church".

Critics of Jorge Bergoglio, the former Archbishop of Buenos Aires, allege he failed to protect priests who challenged the dictatorship earlier in his career, during the 1976-1983 "dirty war", and that he has said too little about the complicity of the Church during military rule.

The allegations centre around a time before Bergoglio became a bishop, when he was leader of the Jesuits in Argentina. Two priests kidnapped by the military government alleged Bergoglio did not protect them.

"There has never been a concrete or credible accusation in his regard. Argentinian justice interrogated him once ... but he was never charged with anything," Lombardi said.

"He documented his denials of the accusations against him. There are also many declarations that show how Bergoglio tried to protect many people in his time during the military dictatorship. His role is very clearly noted.

"When he became bishop, he promoted the whole cause of reconciliation in the Church of Argentina," the spokesman added.

Some human rights activists in Argentina have questioned the moral credentials of Francis since his election as pope on Wednesday, because of the allegations over the dirty war period.

The Argentinian Church's reputation was tarnished by links between some high-ranking Roman Catholic clergymen and the military junta that kidnapped and killed up to 30,000 leftists. The wounds have yet to heal.

(Reporting by Philip Pullella; writing by Barry Moody; editing by Keith Weir)

Comments (0)
This discussion is now closed. We welcome comments on our articles for a limited period after their publication.

  • Most Popular
  • Most Shared

Telangana Accident

TOP SHOWCASE

India Insight

India Insight

Markandey Katju: Ex-India Supreme Court judge stirs the pot.  Full Article 

Wipro Results

Wipro Results

Wipro sees strong sales growth, eyes Europe deals .  Full Article 

Iraq's New President

Iraq's New President

Iraq elects president as Ban urges unity to save nation.  Full Article 

No 'Fire' Here

No 'Fire' Here

Amazon's smartphone fails to kindle a "Fire" among reviewers.  Full Article 

Gaza Shelling

Gaza Shelling

At least 15 dead in Israeli shelling of Gaza school - Health Ministry.  Full Article 

No Result Yet

No Result Yet

Afghan vote recount moves at snail's pace, rival sides far apart.  Full Article 

Film Festival

Film Festival

Venice film festival to kick off with black comedy "Birdman".  Full Article 

Photographers' Blog

Photographers' Blog

Waiting to die in Varanasi.  Full Article 

Reuters India Mobile

Reuters India Mobile

Get the latest news on the go. Visit Reuters India on your mobile device.  Full Coverage