Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
March 13, 2013

Pope Francis

Some thoughts:
  • an old man his turn is unlikely to be long
  • from Latin America, giving that huge part of the church a bigger voice
  • a conservative, which is within the catholic church rather middle of the road, but with a social mind
  • strongly against liberal hype stuff like homosexual marriage
  • the name he chose has real meaning for catholic folks and can be understood as a promise of a less pompous church
Altogether a relative good choice in my view though not the tall black African woman I would have liked. Maybe next time?

Posted by b on March 13, 2013 at 19:31 UTC | Permalink



During a live announcement of the New Pope's identity on public radio in the United States (National Public Radio- NPR), the senior European correspondent for NPR covering Vatican affairs, Sylvia Poggioli, stated she was surprised by the naming of the first Latin American Pope - he was so off the radar screen. Catching her breath, she mumbled that he was from Argentina and was in no way connected to the military regime of that country (I wonder why that comment was necessary) and then broke off her commentary - saying this is just shocking, we are not prepared for a commentary on him, we did not expect him at all, we have a lot of home work to do.

Posted by: thirsty | Mar 13 2013 19:47 utc | 1

Don forget : and Jesuit!

Posted by: anonimo | Mar 13 2013 20:30 utc | 2

The most important question I'm asking in all this is, why someone called Jorge Mario Bergoglio would want to change there name to Francis?

Think I'll just keep calling him Pope Jorge Mario.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Mar 13 2013 20:32 utc | 3

Lets see what he does WRT Jerusalem! Will he roll back what the last 2 Popes gave away. Time will tell.

Posted by: hans | Mar 13 2013 20:36 utc | 4

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. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio's name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment

Posted by: L Bean | Mar 13 2013 20:45 utc | 5

Looking at it with political glasses, seems to me like an attempt to lure South America from it's recently found independant and somehow progressive ways into one more amenable to Anglo-American will. Francis might well turn out to be a replica of Amano or Moon.

Posted by: ATH | Mar 13 2013 20:49 utc | 6

I'll eternally wonder why anyone gives any of these clowns fealty. Must be the funny costumes.

Posted by: ben | Mar 13 2013 20:50 utc | 7

From the article quote posted by L Bean:

"if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment"

To be a leader in the "west", one has to be that. Otherwise, one would be an evil commie, like Chavez was. Something which verboten. This Jorge Mario Bergoglio is a long time insider to the oligarchic western establishment and now his loyalty is paying off.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 13 2013 20:56 utc | 8


"What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment"

- thanks, good article

Posted by: thirsty | Mar 13 2013 21:03 utc | 9

From what I have read it's pretty obvious he supported and collaborated with the argentinian dictatorship.

Posted by: ThePaper | Mar 13 2013 21:16 utc | 10

So this guy is a tool for the reactionary conservative elites. I wasn't impressed when he stepped out onto the balcony. He had neither the charm of JP2 nor the emperor Palpatine like creepiness of Benito XVI. This guy was as exciting as mortadella, I see more grey days for da church ahead. MENE MENE TEKEL PARSIN.

Posted by: Fernando | Mar 13 2013 21:21 utc | 11

I just read an article somewhere in the Spanish language press that expounded on El Silencio. Supposedly during the scandal in question, Pope Francis sent a report(to the gov?) in which the status of several of his detainees(priests who ministered in Argentinian slums) was listed as having "guerilla contacts".

A tool indeed.

Has anyone read this book?

Posted by: L Bean | Mar 13 2013 22:13 utc | 12

IIRC a priest once told me that the body of the Church is considered to be female and therefore the priest(or pope), who marries the church when he accepts the call, must be male. Has a certain logic. Just wish they weren't so anti-Communist. They're both Internationalist movements.

Posted by: Ruralito | Mar 13 2013 22:28 utc | 13

b. I fear your knowledge of the intricacies of Catholic church policies is not very good.

See Communion and Liberation - no this is not connected to liberation theology, it is connected to Cardinal Ratzinger.

"Another sign of the times is that Giussani’s successor, Spanish Fr. Julián Carrón, recently wrote a letter to an Italian newspaper confessing the group’s “great humiliation,” conceding that if so many people see the group in terms of money and power “we must have given them some pretext,” and apologizing for the “superficiality” with which some in the group have lived out Giussani’s inspiration.

To be sure, this isn’t the first time Communion and Liberation has been at the center of a media storm. In the mid-1970s, there was a brief flurry of speculation that it was actually a CIA front. The difference today is that the underlying cause of the tempest is not rumor, but serious legal charges against some of the group’s most prominent members.


Posted by: somebody | Mar 13 2013 22:36 utc | 14

The Guardian article is shocking.
It would seem that this Pope ought to begin his reign in court charged with being a willing accomplice to murder, torture and kidnapping on an industrial scale.
No doubt the Catholic Church is re-assuring its fundraising base that it remains committed, as it was under Mussolini, Franco, Salazar and Hitler, to fascism.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 14 2013 0:01 utc | 15

If they couldn't have an Italian, the next best thing is the son of an Italian immigrant to Argentina!

Maybe the tall black African women b is thinking about will be the daughter of an Italian immigrant to Somalia.

Posted by: JohnH | Mar 14 2013 1:11 utc | 16

Have to agree w/ATH @ #6 on this one...

Posted by: Uncle $cam | Mar 14 2013 1:56 utc | 17

Posted by: JohnH | Mar 13, 2013 9:11:09 PM | 16

You took my comment. Given the increasing irrelevancy of Europe to Catholicism the only way to have another Italian Pope is to give it to an Italian living in Argentina. Perfect compromise, not only an Italian but a good old fashioned fascist priest. Yes he does fit well in that tradition of Catholic support for Mussolini, Franco and Salazar, Pope Francis certainly earned his stripes serving under the rule of the Argentine Army when they instituted a fascist regime in the 1970s and 80s.

Posted by: ToivoS | Mar 14 2013 2:54 utc | 18

There's also the precedent of the Polish Pope who used his position relentlessly to bulldoze communism out of eastern Europe.
Francis will doubtless be expected to spearhead the movement to roll back the left in Latin America, starting in Argentina itself where, inevitably, he will have an instantaneous following which the US and capitalists will use to get those disappearances going again and free the torturers to get back to work on the likes of Lugo.

Posted by: bevin | Mar 14 2013 3:16 utc | 19

Apparently all this criticism about the new pope is misplaced. He's one of the "good guys". He's friendly, loving, self sacrificing and truly loves the poor...too.

Jewish leaders, groups welcome Pope Francis

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 3:37 utc | 20

bevin I do fear that what you say is true. In 2003 when the US invaded Iraq it did seem that the biggest beneficiary was the Chavas government in Venezuela -- the US had suddenly become over extended and had to let South America fall by the way side. In 2002 we tried to engineer a coup against Chavas that cleary failed. For rest of the decade the US spent all of its energy in trying to win the Iraq war. We obviously failed there also.

I suspect that the US will now try to undo the damage that our neglect has brought. Unfortunately for US imperialism the damage has spread across the whole South American continent. Pope Francis will obviously work hard to undo the damage to US influence in that region. Whatever happens next it does seem that the US has an ally in the Vatican. Let us hope that he will turn out to be as irrelevant as the last pope.

Posted by: ToivoS | Mar 14 2013 4:17 utc | 21

3) good point. when a jesuit hides in the cloak of a Franciscan it must be a political strategy.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 14 2013 4:47 utc | 22

"Maybe next time?"
Or maybe not?
According to my favourite indecipherable (until after the event) prophet, this Pope is the last.

Eerie Accuracy Of Nostradamus Pope Prophecy

"Quatrain VI.6
There will appear towards the North
Not far from Cancer the bearded star:
Susa, Siena, Boeotia, Eretria,
The great one of Rome will die, the night over.

Pope Benedict XVl will resign Feb. 28th 2013 and then college of cardinals will elect, according to Saint Malachy's Pope Prophecies, the last pope on earth before the end times. According to Nostradamus, the Pope will flee Rome in the month of December, when the Great Comet is seen in the daytime 'the sun will appear double' or the 'sky will display two suns'. Enter Comet ISON."
etc, etc.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 14 2013 5:37 utc | 23

bevin @19: I too, think you're right. The southern hemisphere has strayed, time for the malignant capitalists to make hay.

ToivoS @ 21: "Whatever happens next it does seem that the US has an ally in the Vatican. Let us hope that he will turn out to be as irrelevant as the last pope."


Posted by: ben | Mar 14 2013 5:40 utc | 24

#16: to many, it is not the place of birth that matters, but the paternity. Son of an Italian father = Italian.

I am sure that was a major factor in helping him get elected as a non-European.

Posted by: ralphieboy | Mar 14 2013 8:56 utc | 25

24) doubt it. the Vatican and groups within the Vatican fight for their own power and survival not for the US. Catholics in the US are a small minority, they are unimportant for the Vatican who is in competition and conflict with many of the US missionary churches in Latin America and Africa - and with Islam, as with political parties representing the poor.

With its choice the Vatican seems to have opted for concentrating on politically "serving" the poor and imposing conservative lifestyles.

Both has been blown up into their faces, the conservative lifestyle and the serving the poor

Posted by: somebody | Mar 14 2013 9:44 utc | 26

Don't take advice on sexuality from men who wear dresses.

Posted by: Watson | Mar 14 2013 11:12 utc | 27

2 (of many more possible) remarks:

- Frankly, I do not know. There is however the question: What could he have done (then, in the junta times)? Could he have resisted them overtly? At what price/consequences?

- The name "Franziscus" implies very much one facet: Franciscus was a rich merchant who turned away from that life to dedicate his life to God and the poor.

This might well indicate that one of the uglier problems of the church will be dealt with. Maybe he intends to be the pope who turns away from money, money, money and back towards God and the people.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Mar 14 2013 11:21 utc | 28

Somebody,26: the Church and the US can work hand in hand in Africa and throughout the world against the Muslims and the godless Chinese. You dismiss this too quickly. The Church is a vast institution, is pretty good at keeping secrets, with dungeons all over the world. Reagan and JP were very close, as were Hitler and Mussolini.

Thank you Hoarsewhisper, I had remembered that prophecy, didn't know who to attribute it to.

Toivos, I think you got it dead on, as do many others. I think b is playing opossum with us here.

Posted by: scottindallas | Mar 14 2013 11:21 utc | 29

@ 29. You're welcome. I thought so long as the topic is fears and superstitions then it wouldn't hurt to include an individual whose name doesn't appear in the Bible. Forgive the cynicism, but I'm expecting Pope Francis to be as "hopey-changey" for the Catholic Church as Obama was for America. According to a news item a few minutes ago, St Francis of Assisi "was responsible for reforming the Church and making it what it is today.."

Until the church abandons the practice of scaring parents into indoctrinating infants with the same kind of specious anti-intellectual crap about Hell to which they, themselves, were subjected as infants, I'll take promises of "reform" (of the Church, by the Church) with a grain of salt.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Mar 14 2013 12:10 utc | 30

@ 24: I think their survival is linked to goals and ambitions of the US in South America. I have no doubt their hierarchy serves the interests of the rich and powerful in every country where they have a presence. Just like the new pope, their institution is soaked in hypocrisy. As with any institution, there are individual exceptions.

Posted by: ben | Mar 14 2013 15:00 utc | 31

“Washington’s Pope”? Who is Pope Francis I? Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio and Argentina’s “Dirty War”

This adds some more information about the new pope's unsavoury background among the more repressive elements in his country and outside it.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 16:48 utc | 32

b, perhaps this is who you where thinking of.....

Posted by: heath | Mar 14 2013 17:07 utc | 33


- the "working with the Junta" stuff. The church's first law is survival. It always works with the worldly ruler in question. That doesn't mean cooperation.

- the allegations around those two Jesuits that the junta sent to jail seem a bit spurious. Those two were freed after the later pope intervened. One still lives in Germany, the other one died of natural cause in 2000.

- this pope is conservative? Hell yeah. Maybe its news to you but he IS a Catholic.

- working with the U.S. to change Latin America? I doubt it:

when the debt crisis hit in [Argentine in] 2002, the church called in strong terms for a debt restructuring to take place which privileged social programs above debt repayment. They argued that the true problems in the Argentinian economy were, in their words, “social exclusion, a growing gap between rich and poor, insecurity, corruption, social and family violence, serious deficiencies in the educational system and in public health, the negative consequences of globalization and the tyranny of the markets.”
Cardinal Bergoglio declared, “We live, apparently, in the most unequal part of the world, which has grown the most yet reduced misery the least. The unjust distribution of goods persists, creating a situation of social sin that cries out to Heaven and limits the possibilities of a fuller life for so many of our brothers.”
One wonders how Wall Street likes such talk.

Posted by: b | Mar 14 2013 17:37 utc | 34

A bit of humor:

Posted by: georgeg | Mar 14 2013 20:48 utc | 35

34) b. it is not that simple. Or let's say, the Catholic church has a lot of experience in this.

Fighting against "international capital is where fascists, catholics and leftists" meet.

Political Catholicism
rerum novarum from 1891
history of Catholic social teaching

Posted by: somebody | Mar 14 2013 20:51 utc | 36

b - 34

"- the "working with the Junta" stuff. The church's first law is survival. It always works with the worldly ruler in question. That doesn't mean cooperation."

The following are excerpts from an essay about a famous example of the Catholic leadership in Chile opposing their government, and risking their lives in doing so, while saving some lives, as well.

The Chilean Coup, the Church and the Human Rights Movement

"It was also in that same year that an ecumenical group, under the tenuous protection of the archbishop of Sa~o Paulo, Paulo Evaristo Arns, published the declaration in broadside format that could be posted on parish bulletin boards. Each of the 28 articles was followed by relevant citations from Scripture and brief quotations from Catholic and Protestant documentsa clearly subversive act, but one that the military government found difficult to suppress. It was that same team, headed by the late Presbyterian pastor Jaime Wright and Dom Paulo, that years later would publish the scandalous record of the military’s human rights violations, Nunca Mais, a truth report without benefit of a truth commission. The documentation had been spirited out of government files, photocopied and returned before a stunned military could react. It is hard today for us to imagine how courageous those people were in the face of an omnipresent and utterly ruthless national security state that, until September of that same year, had been the very definition of a rights-violating regime.

But what Silva did then was also more extraordinary than is commonly acknowledged. He dissolved the Committee for Peace on Dec. 31, 1975, and on Jan. 1, 1976, created not just a newly named COPACHIa human rights organization firmly under the auspices of the archdiocesebut he also vested the new agency, named the Vicariate of Solidarity, with ecclesiastical status. It was a Roman Catholic vicariate, under an episcopal vicar, the Rev. Cristián Precht. This was unique in the Catholic world at that time, and although successor archbishops would deem the need to have passed and would phase out the office, the Vicariate of Solidarity still stands as a powerful witness to the defense of human rights as an integral part of the preaching of the Christian Gospel. Defense of human rights, in other words, is not just an add-on, a nice work of supererogation, but part and parcel of the church’s mission in the world."

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 22:09 utc | 37

The following is another example of the Catholic Church openly opposing the government, this time in Venezuela when Chavez was president.

Hugo Chavez’s Holy War

In this case, the church people were not at risk for their lives, nor was there any one to save. They opposed Chavez's government because it was not fascist hellhole run only for the rich oligarchy. Quite the opposite of the operation of the Church in Chile.

These are 2, very different, examples of the Catholic Church opposing the sitting government in their country. Their actions and views may not have represented the Vatican's views, but they certainly represented the Catholic leadership in those respective countries.

Now I suppose I'll be banned like Yeah, but was.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 14 2013 22:16 utc | 38

I think it's fruitless to judge "the catholic church" or this or that priest in this context.

This is about the new pope and if junta times are looked at, they should be looked at with reference to Sr. Bergoglio.

From what I know (which might be false or just half-true) Sr. Bergoglio wasn't a friend of the junta (or, more correctly, the juntas). Rather than fighting them overtly he seems to have chosen a path of avoiding them and demanding his priests to concentrate on purely religious work. (Which the two mentioned ones didn't obey; they rather left the church).

Maybe this was simple cowardice. But it may as well have been what seemed to be the best was to help the people in *any* way. After all, ending up completely powerless and "crippled" or, worse, in jail or dead for overtly opposing the junta wouldn't have helped a lot neither.

I don't want to judge but rather to remind us that we were not there. There are juntas and situations where open confrontation can work, maybe kick out the junta. But there are also situations where it wouldn't do any good (in terms of tangible results) but rather mean to loose what little means and possibilities those priest had.

Last but not least it shocks me how persons are reduced and measured by some (seemingly or real) dark points in their live. Yes it is one point of measure how someone stands upright in difficult or even situations. But it's not the only one.

And, frankly and honestly: Would everyone of us pass the "standing upright in the face of a junta with murdering squadrons" test?

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Mar 14 2013 22:59 utc | 39

I followed LL Bean's link, and discovered what a difference a day makes ...

The sins of the Argentinian church are swept under the tug by the Guardian

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 rights abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio's "holiday home". This has been corrected.

Posted by: john francis lee | Mar 15 2013 0:04 utc | 40

the guardian link in #6 has been scrubbed

• 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 rights abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio's "holiday home". This has been corrected.

Posted by: annie | Mar 15 2013 0:17 utc | 41

I was listening to NPR's live coverage. They were asking apparently random (English-speaking)people in the square for their reactions. For example, a couple of Argentinians who were in Rome on holiday, just decided to go to the square when the Pope was announced and they were excited to hear that Jorge Maria had been chosen as Pope.

Among the people they interviewed were a couple of Syrians ("you don't run into many Syrians here") who said that they had left Syria a year ago and the other two years ago. They were happy about the Pope. But when asked about Syria, they went off NPR's script. They said that the insurgents were mostly terrorists from Libya and Turkey and that Assad was a good man. Apparently, they weren't Syrian refugees, but Catholic seminarians who were studying in Europe.

Posted by: Rusty Pipes | Mar 15 2013 0:44 utc | 42

I think it's been scrubbed because it's the "original" English source on this. I was reading Spanish language press the other day and there were more accusers(nuns, human rights workers etc) than just this guy who wrote the book.

Also the quote I paraphrased (badly) in my above comment was directly from the book - about Bergoglio sending official reports that his two captives had "guerilla contacts" - I don't know what part of the book the Guardian is "retracting" but the Guardian's journalist's quote seems to go along with other excerts of the book, which are now only available in the Spanish language press.

As soon as that old Guardian article started making the rounds, and not a minute before, there were references to the contrary all over the English news media from Bergoglio's authorized biography, to "disprove" whatever... and stating that it was he who was responsible for the freedom of the two (who are said to have been eventually been "freed" in a drug-and-dump op), and not the other way around.

So who should we believe? From what I can tell the allegations against however Bergoglio handled the mentioned incident are NOT only coming from the one book on the subject, which was unfortuitously linked to and translated by some rogue Guardian journalist 3 years ago. Just a cursory skimming of the Spanish language articles on the specifics of the controversy shows this to be true.

There are similar parallels in the past few years wrt internet media blackout in Spanish v English press wrt the past few coups and attempted coups and general oligarchal malfeasance in C and S America, the involved actors/motivations etc - Nicaragua, Honduras, Colombia to name only a few.

Needless to say the propaganda and blackouts are for us, not them.

Posted by: L Bean | Mar 15 2013 1:54 utc | 43

"But when asked about Syria, they went off NPR's script. They said that the insurgents were mostly terrorists from Libya and Turkey and that Assad was a good man."

Lol. Awesome.

Probably the first bit of truth to come of NPR in years. In other news, some low level NPR producer is looking for a new job.

Posted by: guest | Mar 15 2013 2:03 utc | 44

LOL, now the Guardian is openly censoring their writers' material after the fact to meet the right wing establishment's agenda. I wonder if they will now go back and "correct" all the other articles critical of those fascists. Or if they've already done so. This Jorge must have a "powerful horse".

L Bean, thanks for clarifying in 43.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 15 2013 2:33 utc | 45

BTW, RE the Guardian's recent censorship of that article, isn't that the job the main character in 1984 had? He would go through older news items and alter them so they fit the new propaganda. Seems that yet another wretched aspect of our present was seen by Orwell in that book.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 15 2013 2:54 utc | 46

The actions of the Chilean Catholic leadership are unusual. The Church most of the time supports the fascists and past brutal dictatorships. Most leftwing governments that formed in Latin America met strong opposition from their regional Catholic leaders. Those Catholic leaders often conspired with the fascists working to over throw those left leaning governments. In modern times, the role played by the leadership in Chile is unusual, though often local priests did oppose the fascists. In Europe, all the fascist dictatorships had strong support from the Catholic Church, and the Vatican. That includes the nazis, initially, who then lost Catholic support when they started criticising and persecuting Catholics.

In the past there are famous examples, too. Bartolome de las Casas is one from the 16th century:


"Contrary to the stereotype of their monolithic wickedness in the subjugation 0/ the
Americas' indigenous peoples, some Spaniards protested the brutality of conquest
and colonial rule. None was more influential than Bartolome de .las Casas, the
long-lived Dominican bishop ofChiapas in Mexico. Although later to be blamedJor
supposedly exaggerating his countrymen's cruelty and advocating the enslavement
ojAfricans instead 0/ Indians as a "lesser evil," the aristocratically born Andalusian was a tireless champion 0/ Indian rights. His writings were widely read in
cdlonialPeru. These excerptsfrom 'TnDeJense olthe Indians," apassionate response
to court theologianJuan Gines de Sepiiivedas's assertion 0/Indian inferiority, give
aflavor 0/ his forthright criticism ofSpainsrole in the New World...."

Posted by: вот так | Mar 15 2013 4:46 utc | 47

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Mar 13, 2013 4:32:24 PM | 3

catholic tradition, as i was raised catholic, i received a saints name at Confirmation

Posted by: brian | Mar 15 2013 7:14 utc | 48

New pope elected as Catholic Church tries to stem crisis
Pope Francis: role during Argentina's military era disputed

The guardian leaves out the part that ...

... Bergoglio demanded that two Jesuit priests – Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics – cease preaching liberation theology and leave the slums where they were working. After they refused, Bergoglio had them removed from the order. The two men were subsequently kidnapped and tortured by the military.

... but picks up the story thereafter.

The guardian, perhaps less than the others, still take its place among the secular priesthood, steering round the perils of democracy.

Posted by: john francis lee | Mar 15 2013 8:12 utc | 49

39) :-)) LOL - avoiding the junta would not result in press photographs like this

An image speaks more than words - the Argentinian catholic church obviously was deeply aligned with the junta. In theological terms: the catholic church very publicly considered Videla "worthy of holy communion" while it does not consider
anybody worthy of holy communion voting in support of abortion.

b. the new popes political stand is best described here:

"Politically, he could be identified with the Peronist right in Argentina. He is a critic of free market neo-liberalism, but with authoritarian and socially conservative tendencies."

Posted by: somebody | Mar 15 2013 8:41 utc | 50

b, Wall St. traders all claim to be "doing God's work" to make the economy work for everyone. Hell, Walmart seems conservative, but they put more of their workers on Medicaid and food stamps. If you haven't noticed, most people have contradictory/conflicting desires (many women want to be Mary the virgin and Mary the whore, career women AND supermom) But, the Catholic Church is very hierarchical, they don't want the lay people hearing confessions, and they probably don't want the poor dictating economic policy. That would defy the very meaning and MO of the church. Episcopals reject authoritarianism, not Catholics.

Posted by: scottindallas | Mar 15 2013 13:27 utc | 51

@somebody - I agree with that description. I wouldn't expect anything else from a pope: Critic of neo-liberalism, authoritarian and socially conservative.

@all - most allegations about the pope and the junta seem to come from the book one Horacio Verbitsky wrote. One might want to look into that guy and his history and tribal relations.

Posted by: b | Mar 15 2013 13:33 utc | 52

Democracy Now! interviewed Verbitsky yesterday.

HORACIO VERBITSKY: .... [Borgoglio] was accused by two Jesuit priests of having surrendered them to the military. They were a group of Jesuits that were under Bergoglio’s direction. He was the provincial superior of the order in Argentina, being very, very young. He was the younger [sic: youngest?] provincial Jesuit in history; at 36 years, he was provincial. During a period of great political activity in the Jesuits’ company, he stimulated the social work of the Jesuits. But when the military coup overthrow the Isabel Perón government, he was in touch with the military that ousted this government and asked the Jesuits to stop their social work. And when they refused to do it, he stopped protecting them, and he let the military know that they were not more inside the protection of the Jesuits’ company, and they were kidnapped. And they accuse him for this deed. He denies this. He said to me that he tried to get them free, that he talked with the former dictator, Videla, and with former dictator Massera to have them freed.

And during a long period, I heard two versions: the version of the two kidnapped priests that were released after six months of torture and captivity, and the version of Bergoglio. This was an issue divisive in the human rights movement to which I belong, because the president founding of CELS, Center for Legal and Social Studies, Emilio Mignone, said that Bergoglio was a accomplice of the military, and a lawyer of the CELS, Alicia Oliveira, that was a friend of Bergoglio, tell the other part of the story, that Bergoglio helped them. This was the two—the two versions.

But during the research for one of my books, I found documents in the archive of the foreign relations minister in Argentina, which, from my understanding, gave an end to the debate and show the double standard that Bergoglio used. 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. This means, to my understanding, a double standard. He asked the passport given to the priest in a formal note with his signature, but under the table he said the opposite and repeated the accusations that produced the kidnapping of these priests.

AMY GOODMAN: And these priests—can you explain, Horacio, what happened to these two priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics?

HORACIO VERBITSKY: Yes. Orlando, after his releasing, went to Rome.

AMY GOODMAN: How were they found?


AMY GOODMAN: How were they found? In what condition were they? What had happened to them?

HORACIO VERBITSKY: Well, he was released—both of them were released, drugged, confused, transported by helicopter to—in the outskirts of Buenos Aires, were abandoned, asleep by drugs, in very bad condition. They were tortured. They were interrogated. One of the interrogators had externally knowings about theological questions, that induced one of them, Orlando Yorio, to think that their own provincial, Bergoglio, had been involved in this interrogatory.

AMY GOODMAN: He said that—he said that Bergoglio himself had been part of the—his own interrogation, this Jesuit priest?

HORACIO VERBITSKY: He told me that he had the impression their own provincial, Bergoglio, was present during the interrogatory, which one of the interrogators had externally knowledge of theological questions. And when released, he went to Rome. He lived seven years in Rome, then come back to Argentina. And when coming back to Argentina, he was incardinated in the Quilmes diocesis in Great Buenos Aires, where the bishop was one of the leaders of the progressive branch of the Argentine church opposite to that of Bergoglio. And Orlando Yorio denounced Bergoglio. I received his testimony when Bergoglio was elected to the archbishop of Buenos Aires. And Bergoglio—I interviewed Bergoglio also, and he denied the charges, and he told me that he had defended them.

And Orlando Yorio got me in touch with Francisco Jalics, that was living in Germany. I talked with him, and he confirmed the story, but he didn’t want to be mentioned in my piece, because he told me that he preferred to not remember this sad part of his life and to pardon. And he was for oblivion and pardon. That he was, during a lot of years, very resented against Bergoglio, but that he had decided to forgot and forget. And when I released the book with the story, one Argentine journalist working for a national agency, [inaudible], who has been a disciple of Jalics, talked with him and asked him for the story. And Jalics told him that he would not affirm, not deny the story.

JUAN GONZÁLEZ: Horacio—Horacio Verbitsky, I’d like to ask you about another priest who was involved in the dirty wars, Christian von Wernich, who was a former chaplain of the police department in Argentina and also later was convicted of being involved—

HORACIO VERBITSKY: He was convicted—he was convicted, and he’s in jail, in a common jail, but the Argentine church, during the tenure of Bergoglio, hasn’t punished him, in canonical terms. He was convicted by the human justice, but by the church standards, he’s always a priest. And this tells something about Bergoglio and the Argentine church also. (My emphasis throughout)

Most of the hour was about Pope Francis, but this segment concentrated on what Verbitsky knew about the two kidnapped priests.

Audio, video, and transcript at the link.

It seems to me this part of his history will come down to a he said/they said, with just enough ambiguity to give the new pope cover...plausible deniability. Just now heard BBC report on this incident (very, very brief) which closed with Vatican denying any role for Borgoglio in the kidnapping and that he tried to help free the two priests. This will be going down the memory hole, I predict.

Posted by: jawbone | Mar 15 2013 14:05 utc | 53

Horacio Verbitsky seems legit.

b. no I do not expect a pope complicit in crimes.

One of the priests Pope Francis is supposed to have delivered to the Junta says they have reconciled and the matter for him is closed.

Both concerned priests seem to have accused Pope Francis to Jesuit head Pedro Arrupe of handing them in.

This here is Der Spiegel on the issue.

The two liberation theologists were kidnapped on May 23, 1976 in a slum where they were doing ministry and social work. "Many people politically associated with the extreme right viewed our presence in the poor districts with suspicion," recalled Jalics later in his writings. "They interprested the fact that we lived there as support of the guerrillas, and they denounced us as terrorists."

The regime's henchmen brought the two Jesuits to the Escuela de Mecánica de la Armada (ESMA), a detention center notorious for torture. After five months they were thrown out onto a field half-naked and pumped full of drugs. The priests complained of Bergoglio to Superior General Pedro Arrupe in Rome. But they had already been expelled from the Jesuit order, allegedly due to contact with woman and "conflicts of obedience."

Accusations of Complicity in Kidnapping

Argentine human rights lawyer Marcelo Parrilli brought Bergoglio's case to the authorities, accusing him of implication in the kidnapping. That was in April 2005, shortly before the conclave that eventually chose Joseph Ratzinger to become Pope Benedict XVI. Bergoglio reportedly got the second most votes, but stepped aside in deference to Ratzinger.

A Jesuit spokesman called Parrilli's legal complaint slander. Bergoglio twice used his right to refuse to give evidence in court. When he testified in 2010, his comments were "evasive," according to human rights lawyer Myriam Bregman. In 2012, Argentine bishops collectively apologized for the mistakes of the church in the country's "Dirty War" in the 1970s and early 80s -- more than 30 years after the fact.

After their detainment, Yorio and Jalics were offered reinstatement into the Jesuit order. Jalics accepted, but Yorio did not.

Yorio never fully recovered from the traumatic experiences in prison. He died in 2000 in Uruguay. Franz Jalics survived the difficult times of torture with the help of meditation and constant prayer. He traveled to Germany in 1978, and later wrote a book about spiritual retreats. He declined to comment on the matter. "But he's at peace with Bergoglio," said Jesuit spokesman Thomas Busch. "A few years ago, Father Jalics traveled to Buenos Aires on the invitation of the archbishop, and they talked together." Nothing is known of their conversation.

A book Jalics wrote in 1995 tells a different story. He says prior to the kidnapping, he described his precarious situation to a superior, warning "that he's toying with our lives." He says the "man" promised to explain to the military that they weren't terrorists. However dozens of documents and statements of witnesses purportedly show that instead of defending the two priests, the same "man" only futher incriminated them. Yorio had related a similar story at the end of the 1970s. At the time, the "man" had a name: Bergoglio.

and further down on the two faces of Pope Francis:

Argentine investigative journalist Horacio Verbitsky, nickname "the dog," has written numerous essays and books about the important relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and the military dictatorship. He published an interview with Yorio's siblings Graciela and Rodolfo in 2010.

According to that interview, Bergoglio said in a personal conversation that he relied completely on the military secret service to find a clarification of the problem and that they would be responsible for conducting interrogations of the prisoners. Bergoglio was said to have important ties to the authorities. He allegedly met with Admiral Emilio Massera, one of the leaders of the military junta. Bergoglio said he did so to advocate on behalf of the two Jesuit brothers. He said he had nothing to hide.

"I know people he helped," said Yorio's brother Rodolfo. "That's exactly what reveals his two faces, and his closeness to the military powers. He was a master at ambiguity." And he levels a bitter accusation: "When the army killed someone, (Bergoglio) was rid of him, when they saved someone, it was he who had saved them." That's why there are people who see him as a saint, Rodolfo said. "And why there are others who fear him."

This here is a description of reactions in Argentinia. The very political question remains why the Vativan decided to walk into this. Pope Francis was not the only one they could have chosen.

Myriam Bregman, an Argentine lawyer in the continuing trials of crimes at the ESMA death camp, says Bergoglio's appointment to the papacy left her confused. "It gave me a feeling of amazement and impotence," said Bregman, who took Bergoglio's declaration regarding Jalics and Yorio in 2010.

"Bergoglio refused to come [and] testify in court," she recalled, making use of Argentine legislation that permits ministers of the church to choose where to declare.

"He finally accepted to see us in an office alongside Buenos Aires cathedral sitting underneath a tapestry of the Virgin Mary. It was an intimidating experience, we were very uncomfortable intruding in a religious building."

Bregman says that Bergoglio did not provide any significant information on the two priests. "He seemed reticent, I left with a bitter taste," she said.

Estela de la Cuadra's mother co-founded the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo activist group during the dictatorship to search for missing family members. She was at first astonished, then appalled when a friend texted the news that Bergoglio had been chosen as the new pope.

"It is unthinkable, horrifying given what I know about his history," she said, recalling the disappearance of her sister.

The last time they saw each other was in January 1977 when they were members of leftwing groups formed among the students at La Plata University, then one of the most radical in Argentina.

Her sister, Elena, was three months pregnant and in hiding in Buenos Aires from military snatch squads that had already seized her husband. She "disappeared" a month later and was later seen by survivors in a concentration camp run by the navy.

Desperate, the family used a connection with the global head of the Jesuit order – the "black pope", Pedro Arrupe – to lobby for her release. He put them on to Bergoglio, who provided a letter of introduction to a bishop with connections to the military dictator.

The only answer that came back, said Estela, was that her sister's baby was now "in the hands of a good family. It was irreversible." Neither mother nor child were heard from again.

For Estela, Bergoglio did the bare minimum he had to do to keep in line with the black pope. She says the story underlines the close connections between the Catholic church and the military junta, as well as what she sees as lies and hypocrisy of a new pope who once claimed to have no knowledge of the adoptions of babies being born in concentration camps and then adopted by families close to the regime.

"I've testified in court that Bergoglio knew everything, that he wasn't – despite what he says – uninvolved," said Estela, who believes the church worked with the military to gather intelligence on the families of the missing.

She is also furious that Bergoglio refused to defrock another priest, Christian von Wernich, who was jailed for life in 2007 for seven killings, 42 abductions and 34 cases of torture, in which he told victims: "God wants to know where your friends are."

She is now requesting classified documents from the episcopal and Vatican archives, which would shed more light on the issues.

That is unlikely to be approved in Rome, though it would – until Wednesday at least – have probably gone down well in the government of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.

The Argentine president is a staunch advocate of taking to court not only military officers responsible for the killing of thousands of young activists, but also civilians who may have played a role back then.

Fernández has an icy relationship with Bergoglio – who is seen as a conservative – and has studiously avoided him over the last years, moving out of the city every 25 May when Bergoglio gave his annual mass at Buenos Aires Cathedral.

more will come out. The Catholic church now has another scandal at hands.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 15 2013 14:24 utc | 54

A fresh face of the upright kind, agreed on, consensual, will clean the face of Vatican finance and get it moving, respectably, once more?

*Main aim*, imho.

jan 4, 2013:

The central bank, the Bank of Italy, said it discovered in 2010 that Deutsche Bank Italia had been handling the Vatican's credit- and debit-card transactions without the necessary approval. Deutsche Bank applied for permission, which was denied Dec. 6 by the Bank of Italy, claiming Vatican City State did not have banking and financial laws stringent enough to prevent money laundering.

(Credit debit card services were cut off, tourists coudn’t pay, whole payment system broke down...)

feb 13, 2013.

Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi explained that a Swiss card payment company, Aduno, had been contracted to step in and provide credit card service to the Vatican. Using a loophole in EU banking rules, the move does not require authorization by the Bank of Italy since the Swiss company is not a part of the European Union.

Under Benedict, very alarming glitches in the system, they were so devastatingly public. I presume Francis knows little or nothing about Finance, who will he hire as advisors?

The Vatican has about 500 inhabitants and 10 (?? at least) billion dollars in assets in “its” bank. Wiki describes, can’t judge the correctness of pertinence:

The ex-director, Ettore Gotti Tedeschi, was ‘let go’ in May 2012. (Money laundering.) Benedict hired a German, Ronaldo Hermann Schmitz, ex. executive director at Deutsche Bank. JP Morgan was involved in all this as well. See also Banco Ambrosiano. Then there is the Pope’s butler and Vatileaks! - google and wiki will provide.

Posted by: Noirette | Mar 15 2013 14:57 utc | 55

What a farce.

Spiegel is known to be as anti-church as anyone can be. And then a lawyer is brought up; remarkably a lawyer who has reason to dislike Sr. Bergoglio because he didn't play her game. And so on ...

No, the catholic church doesn't not have a scandal at hands. All there is, is a lot of noise based on hardly more than hear-say.

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure there were atrocities in Argentina and I assume that priests, teachers, doctors, in short, people of all kinds were involved in one way or another.
What little tangible, verifiable and credible information we have does not show Sr. Bergoglio as a criminal.

When - this may not be modern but it was and is valid in church circles - a superior tells you to not do something, you don't do it, simple as that. Do not forget that even the old pope Ratzinger swore *obedience* to whomever would come after him.

Now, what was it that Sr. Bergoglio did forbid those two jesuits? To do "social-work", quite probably including what the government then took a libel as incitement of rebellion in certain neighbourhoods. *That's* what they were forbidden by Sr. Bergoglio. And again, he was fully in his rights to give orders to them, particularly when those orders were meant to not put the church and its freedom of action in danger.

Should or could the church have done more? Should or could the church have put themselves against the junta? These are questions worthy to be considered.
But they are not questions to be held against Sr. Bergoglio (who, btw. was quite probably bound by directions from above himself).

Furthermore I'm missing the reports about the good things Sr. Bergoglio and his church brothers did. Reports about hiding people, helping people to flee the country, providing what little protection the church could give, aso.

One thing is clear to me, though: If more or less all "reporting" paints someone as holy or as all evil, chances are it's rubbish.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Mar 15 2013 16:49 utc | 56

Noirette (55)

Actually, all those banking, finance, and money (laundering, etc) scandals might quite well explain all the attacks on the new pope.

It's of course, just guessing, but as I wrote before, there are indicators that Sr. Bergoglio might be serious - and even chosen for - to clean up the money-mess.

Again just guessing: Maybe *that* is the (or a major) reason to choose a latin-american, i.e. from far abroad, pope. It has to be assumed that maybe not many but some very influential cardinals, most probably european ones, are involved in the mess.
Bergoglio coming from outside (also in the meaning of not having had any major role in Rome before) and beeing quite old could be the perfect man. He mustn't care about repercussions, he can afford to not give too much about the roman insider circles and even death is so much less frightening for an old man who lived 50+ years with only 1 lung.

In a way, so I think, they "outsourced" the problem. All the major european players are way to intermingled and in diverse ways interdependent.

Posted by: Mr. Pragma | Mar 15 2013 17:31 utc | 57

This is quite a public assault against the new pope. Notice that the story first came up when he was rumored to be a candidate but later lost to Ratzinger. This time he was not expected to have a chance. The new assault was launched only after his surprise election. Some interested circles clearly do not want him to have a high moral position. How much does that have to do with his social political, slightly anti-capitalist stand?

Here are some folks defending him:
Pope Francis faces scrutiny over Argentina’s ‘Dirty War’

The criticism of Bergoglio for not doing enough has prompted several prominent Argentine rights activists, including Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, to come to his defense in recent days.

“There were some priests and bishops that helped the dictatorship, and others who spoke out and died because of it. But Bergoglio wasn’t a collaborator,” said Graciela Fernandez Meijide, a politician and prominent human rights investigator whose 16-year-old son vanished after being snatched from his bed by soldiers in the middle of the night.

It was an era during which the clerical vestments offered little protection, she said, and prominent members of the clergy were targeted. “And even if he wanted to denounce the government, who would he have turned to?” she said.

Posted by: b | Mar 16 2013 9:35 utc | 58

58 b. the assault comes from Argentinia and is easily explained by Argentinian politics. Pope Francis is "looking after the poor" with a right wing agenda, in direct competition with the left agenda of "looking after the poor" and left wing trade unions. His election is a boost to right wing Argentinian Peronist parties and it is difficult for Kirchner to ignore what he says when he is pope.
It is obvious that he is very much into politics indeed.

57 Mr. Pragma - how likely is your theory when the people you describe as involved are the ones who decide on the pope.
And above all, how likely is it that he is an outsider when he is connected to "communion and liberation".

But what most piqued my interest about Pope Francis is his strong tie to a movement called Comunione e Liberazione, or Communion and Liberation (CL).

As John Allen reported in the days before Jorge Mario Bergoglio became Francis, the Argentine cardinal "became close to the Comunione e Liberazione movement" over the years, "sometimes speaking at its massive annual gathering in Rimini, Italy." Allen also notes Bergoglio presented the books of CL's founder, Fr. Luigi Giussani, at literary fairs in Argentina. (It should be noted that Cardinal Angelo Scola, widely considered the conclave's front-runner, is also a longtime CL collaborator.)

Giussani started CL in 1969 in response to a period of rapid social and cultural change in Italy. The movement blossomed among high school and university students, especially since its main instrument of evangelization came in weekly catechetical sessions. These gatherings, called Scuola di comunità (School of Community), are considered the heart of the group to this day.

Its popularity has spread globally in the last 15 years. Although it now claims to be present in 80 countries, its presence in the United States is not as apparent as other groups like Opus Dei or the Legionaries of Christ. Its lack of visibility is ironic, since when compared to these two organizations, CL is far less secretive and its membership is far more open and flexible.

But CL has not been immune to intrigue, especially in commentaries among Italian journalists. In his 2011 book La Lobby di Dio (God's Lobby), Ferruccio Pinotti argues CL is "more powerful than Opus Dei, more well-oiled than freemasonry, and more 'plugged in' than Confindustria, Italy's manufacturer's association." La Repubblica's editor, Eugenio Scalfari, has been quoted as saying, "Not even the Mafia has so much power. In hospitals, healthcare, universities ..."

Members of CL are known as ciellini, and Bergoglio's relationship with them was another cause for consternation among his Jesuit brothers since, as John Allen noted, "the ciellini once upon a time were seen as the main opposition to Bergoglio's fellow Jesuit in Milan, Cardinal Carlo Maria Martini."

It was Martini who, before his death last year, gave a highly publicized last interview saying the Catholic church is "200 years out of date."

Much of what I have learned about CL, other than from the organization's website, comes from the essay "Comunione e Liberazione: A Fundamentalist Idea of Power," written by theologian and political scientist Dario Zadra. The article appears in the volume Accounting for Fundamentalisms: The Dynamic Character of Movements (University of Chicago Press, 2004), edited by Martin Marty and R. Scott Appleby.

The book was one of several volumes that came out of the work of The Fundamentalism Project, a program that offered a scholarly investigation into global conservative religious movements. Marty, who is the Fairfax M. Cone Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus at the University of Chicago Divinity School, and Appleby, who directs of Notre Dame's Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, co-directed this project.

In his article on CL, Zadra explains that the movement's worldview stems from two main ideas: "That Christ is the saving event in human history, and that religious authority is a fundamental element of the human condition." He continues: "Members place religion at the center of a new worldview and in their evangelistic efforts at transforming the relationship between modern society and religion."

Much like evangelical Protestantism, CL understands the central, saving event of one's life begins with a graced encounter with Christ. But unlike the Protestants, CL understands the saving agent to be the Roman Catholic church. Zadra explains: "In CL the authoritative character of the event of salvation is directly translated into the authority of the Church. ... The central event in life is a saving encounter with the communion embodied in the Church."

The church's "authority," Zadra explains, is best expressed by the pope. CL's insistence on "total fidelity and communion with the Succession of Peter" (a direct quote from Benedict XVI himself) has made the movement particularly popular among members of the hierarchy.

Obedience to the authority of the church seems as crucial to Pope Francis as it did to his predecessor and as it does to CL. In a 2005 profile of Cardinal Bergoglio, Jose Maria Poirier, editor of the Argentinean Catholic magazine Criterio, wrote, "He exercised his authority as provincial with an iron fist, calmly demanding strict obedience and clamping down on critical voices. Many Jesuits complained that he considered himself the sole interpreter of St Ignatius of Loyola, and to this day speak of him warily."

After spending a good part of his research interviewing leaders in CL and its young members, Zadra realized that, though the organization had broad appeal, it was different from typical traditionalist movements:

Its beliefs and practices offer a new religious and countercultural way of looking at modern society and culture. CL boldly claims that the Church embodies authoritative truth that is binding on society at large. By claiming the presence of Christ, the Church also claims divine authority -- a kind of inerrancy, not of the biblical text (as in Protestant fundamentalism) but of the Church.

This belief in the inerrancy of the church influences CL's understanding of human conscience. "The conscience of the individual is shaped by and beholden to the Church," Zadra writes, "and the Church ought to be considered the living and legitimate paradigm of society."

Although CL members are comfortable in the modern, technological and political world, they reject the modern insistence on "a freedom of conscience that excludes the religious attitude at its very root." Zadra explains that those who center their political and cultural ideas on human values rather than the living presence of Jesus Christ are considered "enemies of CL."

Zadra concludes that "the political rhetoric and vision of the movement seem to continue a long-standing political position in the Catholic world -- that of returning the Roman Catholic Church to its traditional role of political power."

My purpose in exploring CL is not to demonize the movement or the new pope, but rather to piece together a fuller picture of Francis by exploring in a little more depth an organization with which he has an enduring relationship. Those who hope Francis' humility indicates he may decentralize Rome's authority or relax the demand for absolute orthodoxy to the pope may want to read more about CL's understanding of the papacy.

Those who believe that Francis' criticisms of his fellow bishops indicates he may embrace those who are critical of some of the church's positions should be aware of CL's belief that the individual conscience is beholden to the church.

Those who are convinced that Francis' zeal for the poor and marginalized will lead him to engage the secular world without the broader agenda of "evangelizing" it ought to learn more about CL's belief that the church's authoritative truth is binding on all of society.

On this last point, Pope Francis actually tipped his hand in his brief opening statement on the evening of his election. Just before he asked the people to pray for him, the new pope said, "My hope is that this journey of the church that we begin today, together with help of my cardinal vicar [of Rome], be fruitful for the evangelization of this beautiful city."

Whether Pope Francis will have better luck than his predecessor in evangelizing Europe remains questionable, especially given the church's track record in his native land. Although Cardinal Bergoglio encouraged his flock to join political campaigns against same-sex marriage, Argentina became the first Latin American country to pass marriage equality in 2010. And as The Associated Press reported Wednesday evening, while Argentina's 33 million Catholics account for more than two-thirds of the country's population, fewer than 10 percent attend Mass regularly.

CL's organization and ideology may be mighty in Italy, but time will tell whether it can achieve global influence -- and what role Pope Francis might play in wielding it.

[Jamie L. Manson received her Master of Divinity degree from Yale Divinity School, where she studied Catholic theology and sexual ethics. Her NCR columns have won numerous awards, most recently second prize for Commentary of the Year from Religion Newswriters (RNA).]

Frankly, this sounds like Pope Francis is the response of the Catholic church to political Islam.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 16 2013 10:34 utc | 59

more Catholic corruption fun and "Communion and Liberation" which Pope Francis is supposed to be close to

Angelo Sodano, the eighty-five-year-old dean of the College of Cardinals, opened the papal conclave yesterday with a homily that the Guardian nicely described as a “last-ditch attempt to banish infighting” by extolling “the virtues of unity amid diversity.” As Sodano was preparing to speak, the paper noted, a team of anti-Mafia police in Lombardy were raiding clinics, hospitals, offices, and homes, gathering evidence in an investigation of what the police called massive corruption in the region’s health-care system, “linked to tenders by, and supplies to, hospitals.” No one in Lombardy was surprised. Until this year, their governor (now an Italian senator) was a man by the name of Roberto Formigoni, a Berlusconi partisan as well as one of the most powerful politicians in Memores Domini, the core group of an extremely conservative Catholic fellowship known as Communion and Liberation, which in its Lombardy incarnation has a history marked by scandal. Formigoni, as it happens, was also an old childhood friend of the Cardinal of Milan, Angelo Scola, who, as the conclave opened, was the leading contender for Peter’s throne and for some years (though reportedly no longer) an ardent spokesman for Communion and Liberation.

Scola isn’t under investigation. He is known as “an intellectual,” which, in Italy, carries the presumption of being an honest man. But the raids, and with them his choice of friends, not to mention what could be called his theological connections to a group of Milan crooks, clearly rattled the conclave and dimmed his candidacy—which, ironically, had been supported by the many non-Italian cardinals hoping for a pope who, like Bergoglio, came from outside the Curia and its corrupted cliques, and could restore some credibility to their church.

Posted by: somebody | Mar 16 2013 11:20 utc | 60

New pope elected as Catholic Church tries to stem crisis

"...Under the junta rule, Bergoglio worked to enforce within his Jesuit order the Vatican’s edicts against “liberation theology”. This movement had been founded by reformist elements within the Latin American church in the 1960s, seeking to focus on the plight of the poor as a means of maintaining the Church’s position amid a political radicalisation of the working class across the continent.

In 1976, Bergoglio demanded that two Jesuit priests—Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics—cease preaching liberation theology and leave the slums where they were working. After they refused, Bergoglio had them removed from the order. The two men were subsequently kidnapped and tortured by the military. According to Associated Press: “Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work.”

Bergoglio was called to testify in the case after a Catholic lay worker, María Elena Funes, who was imprisoned at the infamous ESMA (navy mechanics) torture center, testified in relation to the disappearance of the French nuns Alice Domon and Leonie Duquet and said that the two priests had been abducted by the military after Bergoglio took away their protection.

Luis Zamora, the former national deputy and lawyer in the case, described Bergoglio’s testimony as “reticent,” adding, “When someone is reticent, they are lying, they are hiding part of the truth.”

In another episode, Bergoglio has been accused of ignoring the pleas for help from a family that lost five of its members to the junta, including a young woman who was five months pregnant before she was kidnapped and killed in 1977. Bergoglio allegedly assigned a junior colleague to the case, who was subsequently given a note from a colonel explaining that the young woman had given birth while in detention and that the baby had been given to an “important” family. Despite his involvement in this case, Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he did not know about stolen babies until after the fall of the dictatorship.

After the end of military rule, now Pope Francis worked to shield the criminals within the armed forces. In 2006 he endorsed a public protest organised by ex-military and right-wing forces demanding blanket immunity from prosecution for crimes committed during the junta. In 2012, responding to growing disgust among ordinary Argentineans, Bergoglio issued a statement on behalf of the country’s bishops formally apologising for the Church’s “failures” during the “dirty war”—while at the same time placing equal blame for the violence on the military dictatorship and its left-wing opponents.

“History condemns him,” Reuters reported Fortunato Mallimacci, the former dean of social sciences at the Universidad de Buenos Aires, as saying. “It shows him to be opposed to all innovation in the church and above all, during the dictatorship, it shows he was very cosy with the military.”

Posted by: вот так | Mar 16 2013 12:10 utc | 61

Part 1

Bergoglio, Dictadura e Iglesia

This is several articles by Horacio Verbitsky in which he includes documents and communications he exchanged with the parties involved. It is all in Spanish. I used google's translator which provided the usual garbled account, but enough was understandable in the text to realise there is a lot of documented, damning material here. The document copies are picture files, so google wouldn't translate them, and I don't know of a free program that can translate text on a picture file. Bergoglio was accused of lying by the 2 priests kidnapped by the military, Jalics and Yorio in one of the articles:


(about halfway down the page, google translation of 1st part)

"In 1995, the Jesuit Francisco Jalics published a book, meditation exercises. In recounting their abduction says that "many people who held far-right political beliefs frowned on our presence in the slums. They interpreted the fact that we lived there as a support for the guerrillas and proposed denounce us as terrorists. We knew where the wind was blowing and who was responsible for these slanders. So I went to talk to the person in question and explained that I was playing with our lives. He promised that the military would know that we were not terrorists. For subsequent statements of an officer and thirty documents that could be accessed later we saw without a doubt that this man had not kept his promise but, on the contrary, had filed a false complaint with the military. " Elsewhere in the book adds that person made "credible libel using his authority" and "the officers testified that they had kidnapped us worked at the scene of the terrorist action. Earlier I had told the person who was playing with our lives. He must be aware that we sent to their deaths with their statements. "

The identity of that person is revealed in a letter he wrote Yorio Orlando in Rome in November 1977, addressed to the Assistant General of the Society of Jesus, Father Moura. This text allows to know the rest of the story, by direct testimony of one of the victims.

In this recap written 18 years before the book of Jalics, Yorio has the same, but instead of "a person" says Jorge Mario Bergoglio. Mind you Jalics spoke twice with the provincial, who "promised to stop the rumors within the company and talk to people ahead of the Armed Forces to witness our innocence." He also mentions the criticisms circulating in the Society of Jesus against him and Jalics: "Making weird prayers, live with women, heresies, commitment to the guerrillas," similar to those Bergoglio then transferred to the Foreign Ministry. Yorio not know the existence of that document, which came five years after his death. In his book, Bergoglio says the same thing I conveyed to Jalics and Yorio: he did not believe in the veracity of these allegations. Why then should communicate to the military government, as evidenced by the document reproduced in this edition?"

Posted by: вот так | Mar 16 2013 12:13 utc | 62

Part 2

"A big mouth

When Bergoglio said he had received negative reports about him, Yorio spoke to the respondents to its top. At least three of them (the priests Oliva, Jose Ignacio and Juan Carlos Scannone Vicentini) said he had not thought against but in favor. In the climate of Argentina, the charge of belonging to the guerrilla "an important mouth (like a Jesuit) plainly could mean our death. The right-wing forces had gunned down in his house of a priest, and had kidnapped, tortured and left another dead. The two lived in slums. We had received notices in the sense that we take care of ourselves, "wrote Father Yorio Moura.

Add to Jalics spoke at least twice with Bergoglio to make him see the danger in which they were placed those versions. According Yorio, "Bergoglio recognized the seriousness of the act and vowed to stop the rumors within the company and talk to people in the military to witness our innocence. [But] the province did nothing to defend us, we began to suspect his honesty. We were tired of the province and totally unsafe. "

They had their reasons. For years, Bergoglio had undergone insidious harassment, without assuming openly accusations against them, always attributed to other priests or bishops who, once confronted, contradicted him. Bergoglio had secured a three-year continuity in their work in the village of Bajo Flores. But Archbishop Juan Carlos Aramburu told him they were there without permission. The notice came to them through one of the founders of the Movement of Priests for the Third World and the pastoral villera, Rodolfo Ricciardelli, whom he told himself Aramburu. When I consulted Yorio, Aramburu Bergoglio told him "a liar" and he used these "tactics to harass the company."

This Bergoglio would apparently tell people he was helping them, while he would tell the military they were problematical. Not exactly a very honest character, but the perfect sort to continue fascist tradition.

Posted by: вот так | Mar 16 2013 12:13 utc | 63

b 52, 58
"Tribal connections"
A thing to be considered.
The two main accusers so far (Bregman & Verbitsky) are linked in that way.
Yet it doesn't bring much light on the matter, the community at hand having some experience of being on both sides at the same time and this case is just beginning to unfold.

"Some interested circles clearly do not want him to have a high moral position"
If the circles include "The Elected", we can think that -as usual- they would have engineered some destruction device in their Golem to terminate it when needed. For the moment the trend is to soften the early criticism (your WaPo link) just as if the warning salvo was enough.
Maybe poor Francis is held by the nose hairs and the serving of Breg and Verb literature is just a reminder. (They might have pulled too hard during the previous conclave as it is said that Bergoglio broke in tears before declining the position.)

somebody 54, 59
"Verbitsky seems legit"
Wikipedia notices do not bring a lot in terms of legitimacy. They are permanently rewritten by seemingly opposing factions but what you read eventually is pure MSM material. For example I doubt very much Verbitsky implication in Montoneros organization else than having been a mole.

"Frankly, this sounds like Pope Francis is the response of the Catholic Church to political Islam."
Catholic Church is not a heavenly entity free from worldly influence and the Pope some Holy Spirit creature. The Vatican Corp. could also have been enrolled by the NWO for a bit of performing in the Clash of Civilizations show.

Posted by: soporta | Mar 16 2013 13:28 utc | 64

"Altogether a relative good choice in my view though not the tall black African woman I would have liked."

My choice, the little old Jewish guy, a pot-smoking ex-beatnik be-bop type of fellow (BTW, completely anti-Zionist since his Bar Mitzvah, and anything he said before that doesn't count) only got three less votes than the lissome and altitudinous black African woman. Oh well, as you say, barring accident, miracle or murder, conclaving will resume soon. Maybe next time.

Posted by: Mooser | Mar 16 2013 16:27 utc | 65

64) that is the greatness of Wikipedia, you can assume what sticks there is pretty much discussed and sourced.
Using Occams razor, what everybody agrees on including Jorge Mario Bergoglio is that he had close personal contact to the Argentinian Junta which he could make use of in support of individuals asking him for help.
Vatican Corp has a personnel problem. There used to be all kinds of economic and personal problems that got people to join Catholic institutions. Now you can live openly as a homosexual, where do they recruit from?

Posted by: somebody | Mar 16 2013 17:12 utc | 66

Jorge Mario Bergoglio: The “Dirty War” Pope

"...During the first trial of leaders of the military junta in 1985, Yorio declared,

“I am sure that he himself gave over the list with our names to the Navy.”

The two were taken to the notorious Navy School of Mechanics (ESMA) torture center and held for over five months before being drugged and dumped in a town outside the city.

Bergoglio was ideologically predisposed to backing the mass political killings unleashed by the junta. In the early 1970s, he was associated with the right-wing Peronist Guardia de Hierro (Iron Guard), whose cadre—together with elements of the Peronist trade union bureaucracy—were employed in the death squads known as the Triple A (Argentine Anti-Communist Alliance), which carried out a campaign of extermination against left-wing opponents of the military before the junta even took power. Adm. Emilio Massera, the chief of the Navy and the leading ideologue of the junta, also employed these elements, particularly in the disposal of the personal property of the “disappeared.”

Yorio, who died in 2000, charged that Bergoglio “had communications with Admiral Massera, and had informed him that I was the chief of the guerrillas.”

The junta viewed the most minimal expression of opposition to the existing social order or sympathy for the oppressed as “terrorism.” The other priest who was abducted, Francisco Jalics, recounted in a book that Bergoglio had promised them he would tell the military that they were not terrorists. He wrote, “From subsequent statements by an official and 30 documents that I was able to access later, we were able to prove, without any room for doubt, that this man did not keep his promise, but that, on the contrary, he presented a false denunciation to the military.”

Bergoglio declined to appear at the first trial of the junta as well as at subsequent proceedings to which he was summoned. In 2010, when he finally did submit to questioning, lawyers for the victims found him to be “evasive” and “lying.”

Bergoglio claimed that he learned only after the end of the dictatorship of the junta’s practice of stealing the babies of disappeared mothers, who were abducted, held until giving birth and then executed, with their children given to military or police families. This lie was exposed by people who had gone to him for help in finding missing relatives.

The collaboration with the junta was not a mere personal failing of Bergoglio, but rather the policy of the Church hierarchy, which backed the military’s aims and methods. The Argentine journalist Horacio Verbitsky exposed Bergoglio’s attempted cover-up for this systemic complicity in a book that Bergoglio authored, which edited out compromising sentences from a memorandum recording a meeting between the Church leadership and the junta in November 1976, eight months after the military coup.

The excised statement included the pledge that the Church “in no way intends to take a critical position toward the action of the government,” as its “failure would lead, with great probability, to Marxism.” It declared the Catholic Church’s “understanding, adherence and acceptance” in relation to the so-called “Proceso” that unleashed a reign of terror against Argentine working people.

This support was by no means platonic. The junta’s detention and torture centers were assigned priests, whose job it was, not to minister to those suffering torture and death, but to help the torturers and killers overcome any pangs of conscience. Using such biblical parables as “separating the wheat from the chafe,” they assured those operating the so-called “death flights,” in which political prisoners were drugged, stripped naked, bundled onto airplanes and thrown into the sea, that they were doing “God’s work.” Others participated in the torture sessions and tried to use the rite of confession to extract information of use to the torturers.

This collaboration was supported from the Vatican on down. In 1981, on the eve of Argentina’s war with Britain over the Malvinas (Falkland) Islands, Pope John Paul II flew to Buenos Aires, appearing with the junta and kissing its then-chief, Gen. Leopoldo Galtieri, while saying not a word about the tens of thousands who had been kidnapped, tortured and murdered.

As Jefferson noted, the Church is “always in alliance with the despot,” as it was in backing Franco’s fascists in Spain, its collaboration with the Nazis as they carried out the Holocaust in Europe, and its support of the US war in Vietnam.

Nonetheless, the naming of a figure like Bergoglio as pope—and its celebration within the media and ruling circles—must serve as a stark warning. Not only are the horrific crimes carried out in Argentina 30 years ago embraced, those in power are contemplating the use of similar methods once again to defend capitalism from intensifying class struggle and the threat of social revolution."

Posted by: вот так | Mar 17 2013 0:30 utc | 67

@ Mooser #65
My choice, the little old Jewish guy

there is a lot of logic in that even though I know you are joking. after all, the God the Christians pray to is the Hebrew God and the Son and the mother of his Son were both Jews as well, it would follow that the dude/dudette to lead the earthly part of the movement should be part of the group.

I have fun messing with my Italian friends when I remind them that it was their ancestors who killed Jesus. They kinda stutter a bit and try to blame the rabble rousers but at the end of the day it was Roman soldiers who nailed the poor bugger onto the extremely cruel torture and execution device that they had created and enthusiastically used.

Posted by: dan of steele | Mar 17 2013 11:44 utc | 68

Love your thoughts. Blessings!

Posted by: Br G-M | Mar 18 2013 19:04 utc | 69

Can God Forgive Jorge Mario Bergoglio?

Posted by: john francis lee | Mar 20 2013 12:08 utc | 70

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