The Vatican may have created a new scandal for itself when the College of Cardinals named Jorge Mario Bergoglio to be the new pope.
Pope Francis, as he is now called, was a senior official in the Catholic Church in Argentina during the "Dirty War" in the 1970s, when the Argentine military brutally killed between 25,000 and 30,000 people.
According to The Guardian, "The extent of the church's complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina's most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship's political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate."
An Argentinian human rights lawyer also "filed a criminal
complaint against Bergoglio," accusing him of involvement in the military's kidnapping of two priests, according to Wikipedia.
Bergoglio has denied this and said he worked for their release.
What is undeniable is that the Catholic Church played a nasty role during the Dirty War in Argentina.
"The upper clergy were noticeably sympathetic to the military," Larry Birns, director of the Council on Hemispheric Affairs in Washington, tells The Progressive. "I remember the feelings of frustration and anger that the church was not a friend of the cause of human rights," recalls Birns, who has visited Argentina many times. "The Church was very hard hearted."
Addendum: The Guardian has published the following correction about the article quoted above:
"This article was amended on 14 March 2013. The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio's complicity in human right abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio's "holiday home". This has been corrected."
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