Mercury Rising 鳯女

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Papal roundup, 3/16/13

Posted by Charles II on March 16, 2013

In a previous thread, there has been fascinating discussion on Pope Francis, with our commenters bringing in terrific links. As I see it, there are five strands to the thread:

1. Did Father Bergoglio collaborate with the Argentine Junta during the Dirty War?
* Journalist Horacio Verbitzky has a document from the Argentine Foreign Ministry which states that Father Bergoglio accused one of the priests of subversion years after this priest and another were seized by the Junta, and tortured. Verbitzky obtained statements from the priests to the effect that they were denied the protection of the Church from the Junta by Father Bergoglio.
* Brother John in comments mentions the statement by human rights champion Adolfo Pérez Esquivel that Bergoglio had no connection at all to the dictatorship.

2. Did Bishop/Archbishop/Cardinal Bergoglio participate in the cover-up and stonewalling of the investigation of the crimes of the Dirty War?
* Verbitzky states that Cardinal Bergoglio lied in court about the forced surrender of children for adoption [In English, as noted by commenter Ji, here. This is presumably in regard to the child of Elena De La Cuadra.
* He also states that cardinal Bergoglio denied that the church archives contained any information about the disappeared/detained, whereas there was a document in which bishops Raúl Primatesta, Juan Aramburu y Vicente Zazpe talked frankly with the dictator (Videla) about whether to tell families whether their loved ones were alive or not.
* Via Jim, in comments, Fr. Christian von Wernich has not been defrocked despite having been convicted of being an accomplice in the murders of seven people, and additional cases of torture and false imprisonment. Commenter Rich Grabner of Mex Files says that it’s normal for prisoners to ply their trades, so as long as von Wernich hasn’t been defrocked, it’s not surprising he would say Mass.
* Cardinal Bergoglio refused to testify in court in two cases involving torture and murder. When he did testify, he was evasive.
* Commenter Jim points to two photos (one and two) which may indicate that Father Bergoglio gave communion to dictator Jorge Rafael Videla soon after Videla’s release from prison (the priest’s face is not shown, so it might be a misidentification).
* Bergoglio helped Verbitzky unravel a case involving the hiding of prisoners held by the Junta from the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights.

3. Is there any connection between the corruption scandal that engulfed the Italian branch of Communion and Liberation and then-Cardinal Bergoglio?
* On this, there is no evidence whatsoever. What is known is that the Italian branch of Communion and Liberation is up to its eyeballs in a corruption scandal. Cardinal Angelo Scola has not been tied in, but the scandal probably cost him the papacy.

4. Since past money-laundering by the Church has involved CIA operations to overthrow left-wing governments, is Communion and Liberation part of such an effort to overthrow the Bolivarian governments of Central and South America?
* There is no direct evidence on this matter. For a review of Vatican financial scandals see Betty Clermont at DK
* Verbitzky states that he believes that the elevation of Bergoglio to Pope signals that the Church intends to undertake an operation similar to what it did in Poland with Solidarity in the 1980s: presumably meaning, to overthrow the Bolivarian governments.

5. More broadly, does Pope Francis intend to end financial and moral corruption in the Church and return it to its mission of spreading the gospel and helping the poor? Or will he lead the Church down the road of further politicization?
* Bergoglio has engaged in open politicking over the issue of marriage equality for gays, which he called a “Holy War.”
* Via Brother John,
liberation theologian Leonard Boff says that he believes that Pope Francis intends to create a “Church that is poor, simple, gospel-centered, and devoid of all power.”

I’m neutral. I hope the Church straightens out and flies right. It is too important to too many people to get itself tangled up in overthrowing governments, domestic politics, and financial corruption. Those are moral diseases that breed when the Church gets too close to the rich. The cure is for the Church to get close to the poor. I wish Francis all success if that is his aim, and I wish him all due justice if he is using the poor as a screen for another aim.

11 Responses to “Papal roundup, 3/16/13”

  1. I think that, just like Benedict, Francis is intended to be another “caretaker” pope: A warm body, a placeholder that won’t seriously threaten the Vatican’s current course. But what’s intended and what actually happens can be two very different things. (See also: John XXIII.)

  2. Stormcrow said

    I hope the Church straightens out and flies right. It is too important to too many people to get itself tangled up in overthrowing governments, domestic politics, and financial corruption.

    Charles II, the Church went off the rails when it first got co-opted as an arm of the state, and that was just over 1700 years ago!
    So “overthrowing governments, domestic politics, and financial corruption” are what it does. Period.
    Don’t expect the Catholic Church to “straighten out”. The fable of the scorpion and the frog applies to this situation.

    • Charles II said

      Hope springs eternal, Stormcrow. Francis has said that he wants a Church that is itself poor and that is for the poor. If he is sincere, then your objections are answered.

      • Stormcrow said

        If he is sincere, I’ll be amazed, since sincerity about that runs counter to everything on his resume.

        Consider: he’s made it as high in the hierarchy as cardinal.

        Think of that as a selection process, rather like the one a would-be American President goes through. In more ways than one.

  3. Here are some links on the issue of Pope Francis:
    Thomas Reese, SJ, “Francis, Jesuits, and the Dirty War” http://ncronline.org/blogs/ncr-today/francis-jesuits-and-dirty-war
    Leonardo Boff’s comments have been translated here: http://iglesiadescalza.blogspot.com/2013/03/pope-francis-called-to-restore-church.html
    Only in Spanish: Jon Sobrino, SJ, “Bergoglio wasn’t a Romero; he kept a distance from the poor during the Argentinian genocide” http://www.noticiasdegipuzkoa.com/2013/03/16/sociedad/estado/bergoglio-no-fue-un-romero-se-alejo-de-los-pobres-durante-el-genocidio-argentino

    I’m still trying to sort this out, though I do see signs of hope in his disavowal of pomp. Also, seeking a poor church and a church for the poor is somewhat hopeful. However, Pope John XXIII called fro a church of the poor. I’m not sure how to parse out the difference, even though it may just have been an off the cuff remark.

    • Charles II said

      Thanks for the direct link to Boff (he’s mentioned in item #5).

      The one part of Reese’s article that I am sure Verbitzky would disagree with is this:

      Nothing he could say would endanger them, nor was he telling the government anything it did not already know. He was simply trying to convince a bureaucrat that it was a good idea to extend the passport of this man so he could stay in Germany and not have to return to Argentina.

      Verbitzky said:

      The first document is a note in which Bergoglio asked the ministry to—the renewal of the passport of one of these two Jesuits that, after his releasing, was living in Germany, asking that the passport was renewed without necessity of this priest coming back to Argentina. The second document is a note from the officer that received the petition recommending to his superior, the minister, the refusal of the renewal of the passport. And the third document is a note from the same officer telling that these priests have links with subversion—that was the name that the military gave to all the people involved in opposition to the government, political or armed opposition to the military—and that he was jailed in the mechanics school of the navy, and saying that this information was provided to the officer by Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, provincial superior of the Jesuit company.

      In other words, Verbitzky believes that Bergoglio officially asked for the priest to be allowed to stay in Germany and receive a passport extension, but privately told the government that the priest was involved in subversion. with the result that the priest did have to return to Argentina, with all the fear that entailed.

      It should be recalled that this would have been at the time of Operation Condor, when leftists were being assassinated even in the streets of Washington, DC. So an accusation of subversion, for whatever motive, could have been a death sentence. It is unclear how an accusation of subversion could have helped the passport extension, and it certainly didn’t work out that way.

      As for Sobrino, I wish he had discussed the post-Junta period. I think everyone can understand that under dictatorship, most of us will not be heroes. Heck, under democracy, few of us are heroes–how many fewer when the penalties are torture and death?

      But unraveling the crimes of the Junta would be greatly aided by leadership at the top of the Church. There is where I do not see evidence that Bergoglio is sorry that the Junta killed and tortured leftists, or at least sorry enough that he will help justice to be done. Indeed, many Church leaders are not unhappy about Franco, arguing that he simply prevented the left from killing defenseless churchmen and women. It’s that attitude– that the Church can forgive wrongs done against its opponents in a way that it cannot forgive wrongs done by opponents– that isn’t consistent with the gospels.

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