Maria Eugenia Sampallo - Participation of Members of The Catholic Church On Both Sides

Participation of Members of The Catholic Church On Both Sides

On 15 April 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Jorge Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) accusing him of conspiring with the junta in 1976 to kidnap two Jesuit priests. So far, no hard evidence has been presented linking the cardinal to this crime. It is known that the cardinal headed the Society of Jesus of Argentina in 1976 and had asked the two priests to leave their pastoral work following conflict within the Society over how to respond to the new military dictatorship, with some priests advocating a violent overthrow. The cardinal's spokesman flatly denied the allegations.

A priest, Christian von Wernich, was chaplain of the Buenos Aires Province Police while it was under the command of General Ramón Camps during the dictatorship, with the rank of inspector. On 9 October 2007 he was found guilty of complicity in 7 homicides, 42 kidnappings, and 32 instances of torture, and sentenced to life imprisonment.

Some Catholic priests sympathized with and helped the Montoneros. Radical priests, including Father Alberto Carbone, who was eventually indicted in the murder of Aramburu, preached Marxism and presented the early Church fathers as model revolutionaries in an attempt to legitimize the violence. A Catholic youth leader, Juan Ignacio Isla Casares, with the help of the Montoneros commander Eduardo Pereira Rossi (nom de guerre "El Carlón") was the mastermind behind the ambush and killing of five policemen near San Isidro Cathedral on 26 October 1975.

Mario Firmenich, who later became the leader of the Montoneros, was the ex-president of the Catholic Action Youth Group and a former seminarian himself. The Montoneros had ties with the Third World Priest Movement and a Jesuit priest, Father Carlos Mugica, SJ. The Third World Priest Movement believed that the Church could not remain neutral in the conflict between the Peronist and anti-Peronists and a number of priests participated in the armed struggle.

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