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Dispelling rumors of Jorge Bergoglio’s cooperation with the Argentine dictatorship


Jesús Colina - published on 03/15/13 - updated on 06/07/17

An Argentine Nobel Peace Prize recipient & the former Public Defender of Argentina attest to his innocence

An Argentine Nobel Peace Prize recipient and the former Public Defender of the South American country have categorically affirmed that Jorge Mario Bergoglio – now Pope Francis – was not an accomplice of the dictatorship that ruled his country in the 1970s and 80s.

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, who is known for his commitment to the defense of human rights, asserted on BBC New, “There were Bishops who cooperated with the dictatorship, but Bergoglio was not one of them.”

Pérez Esquivel gave this response to reports published within moments of Pope Francis’ election that claimed that Pontiff had been responsible for the kidnapping and torturing of Fr. Orlando Yorio.

“Bergoglio’s integrity is questioned because it is said that he did not do what was necessary to free two imprisoned priests while serving as Superior for the Society of Jesus in Argentina. But I personally know that many bishops asked the military juntas to free prisoners and priests, and that this was not granted,” recalled Pérez Esquivel.

For her part, Alicia Oliveira, the former Public Defender of Argentina, assured the Argentine daily El Clarín, “Whenever someone had to leave the country, he was always there.”

Oliveira, who has known Jorge Bergoglio for over 40 years, became the first female judge of her country’s federal court system in 1973. The military coup came just three years later, and the young Oliveira was removed from her post and was persecuted by the militia.

“I was unemployed. After they had sacked me, Jorge sent me a bouquet of roses to lift my spirits,” said Oliveira to Clarí ( “We would see each other twice a week; he kept me informed of what was happening.”

“When someone had to leave the country for fear of his safety, Jorge would host a farewell dinner. Jorge himself never left; he always remained with us,” she added.

Alicia Oliveira is also familiar with the story of two priests, Francisco Jalics and Orlando Yorio. Their story has been used to attempt to corroborate Bergoglio’s cooperation with the dictatorship, but Oliveira has a different account.

“They were both Jesuits. They were not in the Villa, but rather in the Rivadavia neighborhood. They had a group there which also consisted of Emilio Mignone’s daughter. He told them to leave, that the situation was too dangerous, but they didn’t listen.”

Oliveira recounts that, of all those who resided there, the two priests were the only survivors.

Oliveira later went on to serve as the Secretary of Human Rights of the Argentine Chancery under Minister Rafael Bielsa and President Néstor Kirchner.

Translated by Alberto Gonzalez

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