Friday, March 15, 2013

Statement by Jesuit priest tortured under the Junta on the role of the Pope

Statement of Father Franz Jalics SJ

Since 1957, I lived in Buenos Aires. In 1974, moved by the inner desire to live the Gospel and raise awareness about the terrible poverty, and with the permission of Archbishop Aramburu and the then Provincial Fr Jorge Mario Bergoglio I moved with a fellow Jesuit into a "favela", a city slum. From there we continued our teaching at the University.

In the then existing civil war-like situation, the  military junta in one to two years, killed approximately 30,000 people, left-wing guerrillas, as well as innocent civilians. We two in the slums had neither contact with the junta or the guerillas.   Through lack of information as well as deliberate misinformation, however, our position within the church was also misleading. At that time, we lost touch with one of our lay collaborators, as the person had joined the guerrillas. After nine months later,  he was captured by the soldiers of the Junta and interrogated and they found out that he was associated with us. On the assumption that we are dealing with the guerrillas, we were arrested. After a five-day interrogation of both of us,  the officer who conducted the questioning, released us with these words: "Fathers, you were not to blame. I will make sure that you can go back to the slums. " Despite this commitment,  we were then, for some inexplicable reason kept blindfolded and handcuffed in custody for five months. I cannot comment on the role in these processes in P. Bergoglio

After our liberation, I left Argentina. Only years later we had the opportunity to meet  Father Bergoglio who had meanwhile been appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires, to discuss the events. Then we have celebrated Mass publicly and we hugged solemnly. I am reconciled to the events and consider it in my turn to be a closed matter.

I wish Pope Francis God's blessings for his office.

P. Franz Jalics SJ
15th March 2013


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