Pope Francis, the newly elected Argentine Pope, is facing unsavoury allegations regarding his ‘role’ in the so-called Argentine Dirty War. The Dirty War occurred between 1976 and 1983, in which up to 30000 Argentines were made to ‘vanish’ by the ruling military dictatorship. Pope Francis was the chief of the Jesuit order in the 1970s when the Church in Argentina supported the then Argentine military dictatorship and urged the national population to demonstrate patriotism and loyalty to the military junta.
The Catholic Church and Pope Francis have been accused of a complicit muteness and much worse during the Argentine ‘dirty war’, during which scores of Argentine opponents of the dictatorship were kidnapped and murdered. It is alleged that, as the Jesuit order’s head in the 1970s, Pope Francis didn’t denounce publicly the Argentine military dictatorship’s murderous and torturous conduct against its opponents.
The Argentine human rights activists claim that higher elements of the Church in Argentina in the 1970s aided the murderous behaviour of the Argentine military dictatorship. In 2000, the Argentine Catholic Church itself apologised publicly for its inability to adopt a more critical stance in the 1970s against the then ruling military junta. In 2000, Argentina’s Episcopal Conference had expressed that it desires to confess before God everything that it had done terribly during the Argentine Dirty War.
Supporters of Pope Francis have rubbished the allegations against the chief pontiff. They voice that the new Pope has not repudiated the allegations against him because of his humility and hesitation to stoop to the lowness of his detractors. The supporters have asserted that the new Pope, at that time, actually sheltered some vocal critics of the Argentine military dictatorship.
However, human rights lawyer, Myriam Bregman, has voiced to the AP that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, as Pope Francis was known previously, had twice invoked his right to refuse to come to court. This right was invoked as trials were occurring in Argentina of those men, who have been accused of torture, murder and theft of babies during the Argentine ‘Dirty War’. In 2010, he emerged in front of an Argentine judge finally, but was accused by the prosecution of being evasive.