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Priest Defends Pope Francis Against 'Dirty War' Accusations
DENVER, COLO., March 18 (CNA) .- In a CNA column, professor and priest Father Matthew Lamb dispels allegations that Pope Francis did not speak out against the kidnapping of two Jesuits during the country's civil conflict in the 1970s.
Fr. Lamb, chair of the theology department at Ave Maria University in Florida, discusses the case of two Jesuits who were kidnapped by the Argentine government in the 1970s.
During that time, the military junta that ruled Argentina leveled a "Dirty War" against Marxist and left-wing activists and militants, which included the "disappearing" tens of thousands of people.
At that time, from 1973 to 1980, Fr. Jorge Bergoglio was the head of the Jesuits' Argentine province.
In 1976, two of his priests, Fr. Orlando Yorio and Fr. Francisco Jalics, were disappeared by the regime. They worked in the slums of Buenos Aires, and were alleged to be connected with leftist guerillas. On that suspicion, they were disappeared, but were released after five months.
There have been allegations that Fr. Bergoglio did not speak out against the disappearing of Fr. Yorio and Fr. Jalics - or was even complicit in it - but Fr. Lamb says these allegations are contradicted by a statement made by Fr. Jalics himself on March 15 at the website of the German province of the Jesuits.
Fr. Lamb writes that "the fog of war brings in many allegations against those who sought to avoid the bloodshed that was caused by both sides...it will take time to sort all these allegations out in the light of the truth."
"But we do have a statement by one of the Jesuits that he published on the German Jesuit website. It contradicts some of the allegations, even some attributed to him earlier in the 1990s."
Fr. Jalics' statement says that he again met Pope Francis after he was Archbishop of Buenos Aires and that they were reconciled, and that he wishes him "God's blessing in his papacy."
It clarifies that Fr. Jalics and Fr. Yorio, while detained, had no idea of knowing what Fr. Bergoglio was doing on their behalf, and that they in fact did have his permission to be working in the slums of Buenos Aires.
"What Bergoglio was doing might be similar to what Karol Wotjtyla did in Poland under Nazism and Communism: work behind the scenes to support the opposition without identifying totally with them," Fr. Lamb writes.
Fr. Lamb's column gives much insight into Argentina's Dirty War, and helps to clear Pope Francis' name of wrongdoing with respect to the disappearing of his priests.
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