Friday, March 22, 2013

Nobel prize winner after audience with Pope defends his record on the Junta

Pope Francis received on Thursday the Argentinian Nobel Peace Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel. Francis said in the private audience that he wished to advance, "the truth, justice and reparation for the damage suffered under the dictatorship " Esquivel said at an impromptu press conference which followed near St. Peter's Basilica.

The meeting had gone "very well," said the 81-year-old civil rights activist. "We have talked about the martyrs of the church, including Monsignor Romero of El Salvador and Enrique Angelelli." Enrique Angelelli was on account of his commitment to workers in Argentina killed in 1976 in a staged car crash. Oscar Romero, Archbishop of San Salvador, was shot in 1980 during a Mass.

Esquivel again when questioned defended the Pope against allegations that in the 1970s as a Jesuit Provincial he collaborated with the Argentine military dictatorship. He rather set about through quiet diplomacy to save detainees and deportees.

The Nobel Peace prize winner mentioned that he and Francis had emphasized the need for a consistent, holistic view of human rights. "They must not be confined to the murders during the dictatorship, but they also had to apply to poverty, the environment and the lives of the people ," said Esquivel about the conversation.
Next, the position of the church in general and especially in Latin America was discussed according to Esquivel, about "the challenge of being for the first time a Latin American pope." - which Esquivel represented as "overcoming Eurocentrism" in the Catholic Church The Church in Latin America had adopted a "prophetic role".

The meeting itself Esquivel described as "goodbye", because they already knew eachother. He assessed his fellow- countryman in a positive light; in his eyes Pope Francis sought, "to internalize things, but with security and the willingness to fulfill his apostolic mission," stated the human rights activist. After the Pope asked Esquivel to pray for him, he had promised to accompany him on his path.

Torture victim and advocate
Shortly after the election of Pope Francis Esquivel had vehemently defended the former Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio against accusations that he had during the military dictatorship in Argentina (1976-1983) made a pact with the then rulers. Esquivel told the Spanish-language service of the BBC: "There were bishops who were accomplices of the dictatorship, but Bergoglio not." There was no connection between the present Pope and the dictatorship.

The now 81-year old Esquivel had after the Argentine military coup in 1976 founded the human rights organization "Service for Peace and Justice". He was arrested and tortured by the regime. In 1980 he was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts against the methods of the junta.


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