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Friday, March 22, 2013

Guilty silence of the Church in Argentina during the military dictatorship

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The lawyer of the Italians who disappeared in Argentina: "The Church in Argentina was responsible"

Giancarlo Maniga, a lawyer for the civil party in the process that led to the imprisonment of Generals Mason and Riveros, emphasizes the role of the clergy during the years of dictatorship: "Their absence was so marked as to cross the border almost into complicity." A shadow for the Pope? "I don't not think so, as Bergoglio is a very clever politician"

The shadow of the disappeared in Argentina throws a long shadow over the reign of Francis. Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was forty years old during the dark era of the dictatorship. He was Jesuit provincial between 1973 and 1979, at a time when it was difficult not to be aware of the crimes committed by the military junta, kidnappings and disappearances, torture and abduction of hundreds of children born to those active in the underground. The lawyer Giancarlo Maniga , of Sardinian origins and whose office is in Milan, was the legal representative for relatives on six cases of disappearances of people of Italian origin, which ended in Rome in 2004 with a life sentence for General Guillermo Suarez Mason and Santiago Omar Riveros and other Argentinian military officers.

Maniga also followed the fortunes of three citizens of Italian origin in the Argentinian Naval School trial , after which were sentenced to life imprisonment, among others, the former Lieutenant Commander Alfredo Astiz and "Tiger" Jorge Acosta, one of the most brutal torturers of the dictatorship. The lawyer knows that dark background: he listened to the testimonies of dozens of family members of the disappeared but also to students, trade unionists, academics, ordinary people who survived the cruelty of the clandestine centers. "At that dramatic moment in history, the Church in Argentina was conspicuous by her absence," said Maniga today from his office opposite the Central Court of Milan:

"An absence so marked as to border on complicity . In Buenos Aires, but also in Rosario and Cordoba, every day someone disappeared. The Church could not but know, "

says the lawyer.

"Especially since there is evidence that the disappeard , before they were pushed into the sea from the infamous death flights, were given the last rites by priests called in ad hoc."

What some call a prudent silence is translated, in the memories of the Sardinian lawyer to a guilty silence . This ended with the mea culpa on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the coup, when Pope Francis, then Archbishop of Buenos Aires, encouraged the Church to publish a document in which he admitted part of their responsibility. According to Maniga, this is not enough: "The believers then were entitled to a more clear and more active position. Only unknown priests and provincial pastors were exposed. Representatives of the lower clergy that in many cases paid with their lives for their courage. " A stain, that of the disappeared, which threatens to undermine the popularity of the new pope? The lawyer Maniga does not believe so: "Bergoglio is a very clever politician. "

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