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death and life of education

Let's face it, the Catholic Faithful really don't want to know what their new leader did during the Dirty War

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"Beyond the details, the main thing is that it's clear that he was not -- by a long shot -- at the level needed in the dramatic circumstances," Gabriel Pasquini, an Argentine playwright and author of the online current-affairs magazine El Puercoespín, told me. There were other clergymen -- "Catholic and from other religions" -- who "did whatever they could to save lives," Pasquini added. "For someone who aspires to be a bastion of moral values, it doesn't seem like a great precedent. Never, in the years he headed the Catholic Church in Argentina, did he acknowledge its complicity in the dictatorship, much less ask for forgiveness. Will he do so now, from the Vatican?"

Whatever the truth, Francis the Humble, it would seem, has much to clear up about what he thought, how he behaved, and what he did during his country's Dirty War. As with the role of the Church he has long served, it remains a mystery.

by Ken

When you know that someone occupied a position of prominence and authority in Argentina during a period that included the years 1976-83, how is it possible not to insist on answers to the Big Question: What did you do during the war? The Dirty War, that is -- the reign of terror visited upon the Argentine people by one of the more ruthless and bloody regimes of recent times.

The New Yorker's outstanding foreign correspondent Jon Lee Anderson explains:

The new Pope, Francis the Humble, as he perhaps would like to be known, is an Argentine with a cloudy past. This in itself is not an offense but, rather, is in keeping with a religious institution that has long been marked by secrecy. From the smoke signals with which the papal conclave makes the fact, if not the process, of its decision known to the world to the wide-ranging coverups of sexual abuse involving priests and bishops, the Catholic Church is too often associated in the popular imagination with the darkest kind of institutional opacity.

Some of the cloudiness in Francis's past has to do with his relative obscurity during the years when he was still known as Jorge Mario Bergoglio, and with the way that the Church operates in even the calmest times. But much of it also has to do with questions about his real role during the country's anti-Communist terror three decades ago. Officially called the Process of National Reorganization by the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, the Dirty War, as it is more commonly known, was a comprehensive campaign aimed at the elimination of Communists and others seen as "subversives." The purge claimed the lives of at least nine thousand people and as many as thirty thousand people, many of them killed in the most gruesome circumstances imaginable. Pregnant women were often held until they gave birth, whereupon they were secretly killed, their babies handed over to childless military families and others close to the regime for adoption. Hundreds of "children of the disappeared" are living today, young people in their early thirties, some of them still unaware that their parents are, in effect, their biological parents' killers. (Francisco Goldman has written about these children for The New Yorker.)

Many of the victims were held for months in official institutions, where they were repeatedly tortured before being killed, their bodies "disappeared." Justifying the purge, which was spoken about euphemistically but carried out in secrecy, the Argentine military espoused a brand of anti-Communist ferocity that echoed Franco's Fascist witch hunt, which had previously devastated Republican Spain -- a brand of ferocity that also shared his deeply entrenched ultra-Catholic and anti-Semitic views.

Through the years of the Argentine terror, Anderson writes, "the role of the Argentine Catholic Church in the junta's anti-Communist campaign was queasily intimate."
In official discourses, one of Bergoglio's predecessors, Archbishop Juan Carlos Aramburu, openly sided with the military's stated need for a purge, in which freethinking priests and nuns were also killed. For the most part, the Church remained mute in public about what was going on. But some priests were actually directly involved in the repression, by all accounts, with military chaplains going so far as to bless the drugged bodies of suspected guerrillas marked for execution as they were loaded onto military planes, from which they were then hurled to their deaths, unconscious, over the Rio de la Plata.

There have been past accusations, including testimony from a handful of priests and bishops, that the man who is now Pope Francis was complicit, too, if in a more subtle way. He was, in the early years of the Dirty War, the provincial, or superior, of the Society of Jesus in Argentina, at a time when the Jesuits produced some of the more freethinking and socially liberal clerics in Latin America -- a number of whom were targeted by military leaders during the era's repression -- and later led a seminary. The key allegation against him is that he pointed out left-leaning priests to the military as dissidents, leaving them exposed, and that he did not defend two kidnapped clerics or ask for their release. He has denied this, and says instead that he protected priests and others -- just quietly, in secret.

There is the predictable right-wing nattering in the comments -- e.g., defending upstanding Catholics like Spain's Generalissimo Franco (how dare you call him anti-Semitic!) and Pope Pius XII (why, he was the scourge of Hitler, just very secretly!). But the comment that grabbed my attention was this one, from CECIL9:
No doubt about it, this is a hit piece. Any historian would immediately note the lack of scruples this article presents. No factual data, just someone's slanted perspective of some possible wrong-doing by the new pope. New Yorker, dig a bit deeper and put some substance in your "comments."
It sounds at least somewhat reasonable -- until you give it a split second's thought. Is this clown suggesting that there are no facts about the Dirty War? Then he's just an out-and-out wacko or liar. More likely, he means that there are no documented facts about Bergoglio's role therein, in which case he is merely skating around the central reality that the Church, in common with so many other authoritarian, and especially right-wing authoritarian institutions, has a pathological, no-holds-barred commitment to maintaining its secrets -- almost as fanatically so as the Argentine junta itself.

I'm not saying that secrecy and cover-up are the first impulse of the jackbooted-thug mentality. It's first impulse, rather obviously, is to jackbooted thuggery, sometimes for its own sake (there are people whose minds just run that way), more likely in the "cause" of imposing their particular authoritarian values on everyone and everything in their path. But secrecy and cover-up are a close-second impulse, for obvious reasons. Despite the authoritarians' protestations of virtue, necessity, and the blessing of free-from-fact "higher powers," people of this persuasion are clearly aware of the mortal peril of disclosure -- aware that what they do is so unacceptable that any breach of secrecy can spell their doom.

Of course CECIL9 doesn't have the slightest interest in truth or history or facts. His one and only interest is in hearing what he wants to hear. And so he lies even about the piece he claims to be commenting about: "No doubt about it, this is a hit piece." Let's recall that the Anderson piece concludes:

Whatever the truth, Francis the Humble, it would seem, has much to clear up about what he thought, how he behaved, and what he did during his country's Dirty War. As with the role of the Church he has long served, it remains a mystery.
CECIL9 doesn't want to know the truth. He isn't interested in answers to inconvenient questions. For all his professed respect for "history," he has no idea what it actually is -- as applied, for example, to that sinister period of Argentine history. If your basic impulse is to lie about anything that makes you uncomfortable, then there are no mysteries there. Nothing to look at, folks, pass on by.

Let's not even get into the silliness of a Catholics-can-do-no-wrong screamer demanding accountability to facts. By that standard, of course, the entire Catholic enterprise would be padlocked by morning.

The whine of Catholic paranoia is one of the most persistent refrains of our time, even as the fantasies and lies spread across the globe. The one thing you can say about Catholicism is that it has perfected the seamless fusion of ignorance and lies, so that where one leaves off, the other kicks in. The Catholic message to the outside world is: We are a cult of liars and slavemasters. And F*^K YOU, ASSWIPES!

Let me be clear: I have worlds of admiration for principled Catholics, who fight the good fight inspired by their faith. Like the nuns who became whipping posts for that wacko monster Pope Cardinal Ratguts. The Catholics whose voices always seem to scream to the top are the savage apostles of lies and ignorance.

Pope Francis has had a lot of time to fill in the blanks about his activities during the period in question. Then again, he knows he belongs to an organization -- in fact is now the head of an organization -- that doesn't want to know. Very badly doesn't want to know, it appears.


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Original author: KenInNY


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