Statement of the lawyer who questioned Bergoglio about the fate of the “disappeared” (during Argentina’s “dirty war”, 1976-1983)
(PTS, March 14, 2013) Myriam Bregman is a lawyer of the CeProDH (Professionals’ Centre for Human Rights), a member of the Partido de Trabajadores Socialistas (PTS) of Argentina and a lawyer in the ESMA trial (ESMA was the Mechanics’ School of the Argentine Navy, which functioned as a torture and death camp during the dirty war).
In 2010-2011, during one of the criminal trials against the ESMA perpetrators of genocide, Bregman represented Patricia Walsh, daughter of the disappeared journalist and writer Rodolfo Walsh, and she had the chance to question Jorge Bergoglio, who was the Archbishop of Buenos Aires at the time. She was one of the lawyers who demanded that the Tribunal make him testify in connection with the accusation made by the catechist María Elena Funes, who accused him of enabling the kidnapping of the Jesuit priests Francisco Jalics and Orlando Yorio.
Bregman comments about that event: “Far from behaving like the humble person we are now told he is, Bergoglio had no shame in using all the privileges offered by his investiture, refusing to be questioned in Court like an ordinary person, and demanding instead that the whole session should take place at the headquarters of the Buenos Aires Episcopate, so we had to question him there. During his statement, Bergoglio avoided straight answers and also contradicted the previous witness. He tried to offer a formal defence of his actions around the time of the Jesuit priests’ kidnapping by the military, stating that when he found out they had been kidnapped, he informed his superiors. He acknowledged that two or three days after the kidnapping he knew they were held at ESMA – whereas even now, many Mothers of Plaza de Mayo still don’t know where their children were held, despite investigations over many years. So how did he find this out? He said that he met with Jorge Jorge Rafael Videla [a former senior commander in the Argentine Army who was the de facto President of Argentina from 1976 to 1981]and Emilio Eduardo Massera [Naval military officer, and a leading participant in the Argentine coup d’état of 1976], but some time later. He also admitted that when Jalics and Yorio were released they told him that there were still kidnapped people in ESMA, yet he did nothing about it”.
But what Myriam Bregman remembers most vividly about that questioning is when she asked him about the misappropriation of babies during the dictatorship: “I will always remember Bergoglio’s face when we asked him about it […]. He answered that he only found out about that about ten years ago, i.e. in to 2000, when everybody knew about the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo searching for their grandchildren since 1983, and some of the relatives of the “disappeared” from La Plata assert that the case of Ana Libertad Baratti de La Cuadra was known about since 1977”.
Finally, Bregman pointed out: “Bergoglio’s reticence and the brevity of his replies at the time was consistent with the Church hierarchy’s attitude of silence and concealment during the whole post-dictatorship period, systematically refusing to hand over files or documentation. This was part of the policy of the top echelons of the Catholic Church, which blessed and directly collaborated with the Argentine dictatorship which started in 1976. So I am not surprised that priests like Christian Von Wernich, convicted as authors of the genocide, of the dictatorship’s plan of torture and extermination, have never been excommunicated, and can still hold mass like any other priest. Similarly, when Father Grassi was convicted of child abuse, the Church led by Bergoglio didn’t lift a finger to get him expelled. Nobody can deny that Pope Francis I protected paedophiles and murderers within the ranks of the Church.”
The Guardian de Inglaterra
Pope Francis: role during Argentina’s military era disputed
Vanguardia de México
“Bergoglio fue parte del silencio cómplice de la Iglesia con la dictadura genocida”:Abogada