Jesuits post statement on Bergoglio and kidnapped Jesuits

The Vatican, Friday rejected accusations Pope Francis had failed to stand up for Orland Yorio and Francisco Jalics, two Jesuit priests who served under him when they were kidnapped by the military in 1976, during the so-called Dirty War in his home country of Argentina.

Margaret Hebblethwaite has been watching Cardinal Bergoglio for the last 10 years, she has heard two differing and conflicting opinions expressed about him. Humble and authoritarian. One is progressive and open, the other is very conservative.

While not someone who talks to the media, Bergoglio spoke twice with Hebblethwaite.

Hebblethwaite says it is clear the two Jesuits felt betrayed by Bergoglio because instead of endorsing their work and protecting them, he demanded they leave the barrio. And when they refused, they had to leave the Jesuit order.

When they later “disappeared” and tortured, it seemed to many that Bergoglio had been siding with the repression, Hebblethwaite wrote in the Guardian.

“It was the kind of complex situation that is capable of multiple interpretations, but it is far more likely Bergoglio was trying to save their lives,” wrote Hebblethwaite.

Nobel Prize peace winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel said that Bergoglio had no links with the dictatorship. “There were bishops who were accomplices of the dictatorship, but it was not the case of Bergoglio.”

“Bergoglio was questioned because it is said he did not do enough to get out of jail two priests, as he was the Superior of the Jesuits. But I know personally that many bishops called on the military junta for the release of prisoners and priests and these requests were not granted”, said Perez Esquivel.

Fr Orland Yorio has since died, however Franz Jalics SJ, also known in Argentina as Francisco Jalics, now lives and works in Germany.

The Jesuits in Germany posted a statement from Father Jalics about the events surrounding his kidnapping online on Friday.

Starting in 1957 I lived in Buenos Aires. In the year 1974, moved by an inner wish to live the gospel and to draw attention to the terrible poverty, and with the permission of Archbishop Aramburu and the then-Provincial Fr. Jorge Mario Bergoglio I moved together with a confrere into a “Favela,” one of the city’s slums. From there we continued our teaching at the university.

In the civil-war-like situation back then, the military junta killed roughly 30,000 people within one to two years, leftist guerrillas as well as innocent civilians. The two of us in the slum had contact neither with the junta nor with the guerrillas. Partly due to the lack of information and through targeted misinformation our situation was also misunderstood within the church. At this time we lost our connection to one of our lay coworkers who had joined the guerrillas. After he was taken prisoner nine months later by the soldiers of the junta and questioned, they learned that he had been connected with us. Under the assumption that we also had something to do with the guerrillas we were arrested. After five days of interrogation the officer who led the questioning dismissed us with the words, “Fathers, you were not guilty. I will ensure that you can return to the poor district.” In spite of this pledge, we were then inexplicably held in custody, blindfolded and bound, for five months. I cannot comment on the role of Fr. Bergoglio in these events.

After we were freed I left Argentina. Only years later did we have the chance to discuss what had happened with Fr. Bergoglio, who in the meantime had been named archbishop of Buenos Aires. Afterwards we together celebrated a public mass and solemnly embraced. I am reconciled to the events and view them from my side as concluded.

I wish Pope Francis God’s rich blessing for his office.



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