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Pope Francis’ Accuser Was Dictatorship Collaborator, Report Asserts

© Flickr/Juan Manuel Herrera/OAS/Creative Commons

John Burger - published on 05/19/15

Discovered manuscripts in the hand of Horacio Verbitsky cast doubt on claims

It could be a classic case of the kettle calling the pot black.

An Argentine critic who accused the future Pope Francis of complicity with Argentina’s military rulers in the 1970s, it appears, was himself collaborating with the dictators.

As America magazine reports:

Horacio Verbitsky, the man who publicly and repeatedly accused Jorge Mario Bergoglio of complicity with Argentina’s military rulers when he was Provincial of the Jesuits in the second half of the 1970s, actually worked for the country’s military dictators from 1978 to 1981 and was on their payroll. 

Two investigative reporters, Gabriel Levinas and Sergio Serrichio, made the charge in a blog post published Monday at the website www.plazademayo, providing evidence that Verbitsky (pictured), a former member of the Intelligence branch of a left-wing guerilla group was a ghost writer for the head of the country’s military junta. Levinas and Serrichio claim that Verbitsky, along with Commodore Juan José Guiraldes, wrote the speeches of the top commanders of the Armed Forces during the dictatorship. 

If true, the revelation would back up Pope Francis’ strong denial that he collaborated with the dictatorship.

Based on the testimony of three independent witnesses the authors, who are writing a book on the subject, claim that Guiraldes provided protection to Verbitsky in the weeks immediately after the military coup on March 24, 1976. Guiraldes died in 2003. America writes: 

The authors of the article reveal that at the end of April 2014, one of Guiraldes’ sons, found a 34 page manuscript…in Verbitsky’s handwriting (as was subsequently confirmed by expert calligraphy tests). They say that various documents found there prove that Verbitsky signed a six-month contract on October 5, 1978, for which he received a monthly payment of 700,000 pesos. …

In 2003, Verbitsky published the book “El Silencio” on the silence of the Catholic Church in Argentina during the years of military rule. In it, he accused Bergoglio of complicity with the military Junta when he was Provincial of the Jesuits in the country. In particular, he charged that by withdrawing his order’s protection from two fellow Jesuit priests—Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics—Bergoglio effectively gave the green light for their abduction by Navy officers in May 1976, after which the two were tortured. Bergoglio, then cardinal archbishop of Buenos Aires, denied this accusation as slander. In actual fact, the evidence available today shows that he not only managed to secure their release that same year, but also saved and helped very many people during the years of the military dictatorship. …

Verbitsky, however, confirmed his allegations immediately after Bergoglio was elected pope on March 13, 2013.

America notes that Verbitsky has been very close to the governments of both Nestor Kirchner and his wife, Cristina Fernandez, the current president. He is currently head of the Center for Legal and Social Studies (CELS), an Argentine human-rights organization, and refused requests for a face-to-face interview with Levinas and Serrichio but said he would  answer some questions by email.

ArgentinaPope Francis
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