Under Bergoglio’s leadership, Argentina’s bishops issued a collective apology in October 2012 for the church’s failures to protect its flock. But the statement blamed the era’s violence in roughly equal measure on both the junta and its enemies.
“Bergoglio has been very critical of human rights violations during the dictatorship, but he has always also criticized the leftist guerrillas; he doesn’t forget that side,” Rubin said.
Bergoglio’s own role in the so-called Dirty War has been the subject of controversy.
At least two court cases directly involved Bergoglio. One examined the torture of two of his Jesuit priests who were kidnapped in 1976 from the slums where they advocated liberation theology. One accused Bergoglio of effectively handing him over to the junta.
Both men were freed after Bergoglio took extraordinary, behind-the-scenes action to save them — including persuading dictator Jorge Videla’s family priest to call in sick so that Bergoglio himself could say Mass in the junta leader’s home, where he privately appealed for mercy. His intervention likely saved their lives, but Bergoglio never shared the details until Rubin interviewed him for a 2010 biography.
Rubin said failing to challenge the dictators was simply pragmatic at a time when so many people were getting killed, and attributed Bergoglio’s later reluctance to share his side of the story as a reflection of his humility.
Bergoglio also was accused of turning his back on a family that lost five relatives to state terror, including a young woman who was 5-months’ pregnant before she was kidnapped and eventually killed in 1977. The woman’s child, who survived, was given to an “important” family.
Despite written evidence indicating he knew the child had been given away, Bergoglio testified in 2010 that he didn’t know about any stolen babies until well after the dictatorship was over.
Modern popes Pope FrancisMarch 13, 2013 - Benedict XVIApril 19, 2005 - Feb. 28, 2013 John Paul IIOct. 16, 1978 - April 2, 2005 John Paul IAug. 26 - Sept. 28, 1978 Paul VIJune 21, 1963 - Aug. 6, 1978 John XXIIIOct. 28, 1958 - June 3, 1963 Pius XIIMarch 2, 1939 - Oct. 9, 1958 Pius XIFeb. 6, 1922 - Feb. 10, 1939 Benedict XVSept. 3, 1914 - Jan. 22, 1922 Pius XAug. 4, 1903 - Aug. 20, 1914 Leo XIIIFeb. 20, 1878 - July 20, 1903