14 March, 2013

Losantiville Lines (The Louisville Edition): Pope Francis and The Dirty War

Social Conservatives tend to love dictators. Dictators are good at keeping the traffic moving. - From Travel Journal

When a General named Videla took control of the Argentinian government in 1976, it was, like all military juntas, about putting things in order. The previous government under Peron had tried to institute reforms that were intended to be neither Capitalistic nor Communistic in nature; Justicalism was, in theory meant to address economic and social issues without resorting to the growing Neoliberalism (unfettered profiteering spouted by Friedman and his Chicago Boys) and the dark Stalinism that was being passed off as the only alternative to Capitalism. 

Peron's ideas were corporatist and nationalistic, but they were too ill--formed and vague to take on any of the hints of fascism that underlie such political notions. They were, however, anti-capitalist enough to attract the attention of Henry Kissinger -- who, with the weight and power and in the name of the United States, secretly backed the coup that unseated the democratically elected President of Argentina. 

Under Videla, opposition was squashed violently. Thousands of people disappeared, liberties were systematically erased. This was El Proceso, the process to set Argentina on the right path -- a path that included merciless neoliberalism and inclusion in a continent-wide plan hatched by Chilean Dictator Pinochet (who was also put into office by a US backed coup) called Operation Condor. 

El Proceso eventually got another La Guerra Sucia. The Dirty War. 

No one was safe. Not even the clergy. 

Now keep in mind that in spite of more than a few rabble rousers, the hierarchy of organized religion, and the Catholic Church in particular, has always stood on the side of The State. Christian Dogma has long held that the human race, being a fallen critter since Eve ate the poisoned apple, needs their evil natures kept in check -- the rule of law being the only instrument other than divine grace that can fit the bill.  

It's not surprising then, that the Archbishop of Buenos Ares would try and contend with a dictator by focusing on things other than politics.

It is surprising that the head of church in the capital city would turn a blind eye when Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalica, both Catholic priests were taken by government forces. Yorio later claimed they were kidnapped because they visited the city's slums as part of their duties as priests. Yorio also claimed that Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio was complicit in the kidnapping because he refused to sanction the visits and even ordered the priests to stop going. 

The priests were held for 5 months.

Bergoglio later claimed to have interceded on their behalf, securing their release. This did not keep him from being indicted later.

Coincidentally, another priest was eventually convicted of not only aiding in the disappearances of dissidents, but of torturing them while in custody. And last year, Videla himself was convicted of instituting a program that would systematically kidnap the infant children of known and suspected dissidents.  

There is nothing to suggest that Bergoglio knew about the torture committed by a priest under his purview, and other than the statement of Yorio there's been no proof publicly presented that he had any connection to the kidnapping of Jalica and Yorio.  And he probably didn't know about Videla's plan to steal children.

But he certainly knew the kind of cruel despot Videla was. And it's difficult for me to understand how a religious institution that produced Father Haggerty, Ammon Hennacy, and Dorothy Day also elevated to it's highest seat a man who saw the face of tyranny and looked away.