Vat­i­can, Ar­gen­tine church to open ‘dirty war’ ar­chives

Chronicle (Zimbabwe) - - Worldwide -

VAT­I­CAN CITY — The Vat­i­can and Ar­gentina’s Catholic Church said on Tues­day they had fin­ished cat­a­logu­ing their ar­chives from the coun­try’s bru­tal “dirty war” and will soon make them avail­able to vic­tims and their rel­a­tives who have long ac­cused the church of com­plic­ity with the mil­i­tary dic­ta­tor­ship.

A joint state­ment said the process of cat­a­logu­ing and digi­tis­ing the ar­chives had been com­pleted and that pro­ce­dures for vic­tims, their rel­a­tives and clergy to ac­cess the in­for­ma­tion would be forth­com­ing. No date was set, how­ever.

Of­fi­cial es­ti­mates say about 13 000 peo­ple were killed or dis­ap­peared in a gov­ern­ment-spon­sored crack­down on left­ist dis­si­dents dur­ing Ar­gentina’s “dirty war”. Hu­man rights ac­tivists be­lieve the real num­ber was as high as 30 000.

The state­ment said the de­ci­sion to open the ar­chives was taken at the ex­press di­rec­tion of Pope Francis, the Ar­gen­tine Pope, “in the ser­vice of truth, jus­tice and peace”. The doc­u­ments con­cern ar­chives held in the Vat­i­can sec­re­tariat of state, the Vat­i­can’s Buenos Aires em­bassy and the Ar­gen­tine bish­ops’ con­fer­ence.

Francis was the Je­suit su­pe­rior in Ar­gentina dur­ing the coun­try’s 1976-1983 dic­ta­tor­ship. He had pledged to open the ar­chives when pressed by rel­a­tives of Ar­gentina’s “de­sa­pare­ci­dos” or dis­ap­peared, par­tic­u­larly the Moth­ers of the Plaza de Mayo.

Many se­nior cler­ics were close to Ar­gentina’s mil­i­tary rulers at the time and hu­man rights groups have ac­cused them of com­plic­ity with the regime.

Francis him­self was crit­i­cised for not speak­ing out pub­licly about the atroc­i­ties, but he has also been cred­ited with sav­ing the lives of sev­eral peo­ple, giv­ing them sanc­tu­ary in the sem­i­nary and help­ing spirit them out of the coun­try.

The Vat­i­can spokesper­son, Greg Burke, stressed that for now the ar­chives would only be open to peo­ple di­rectly in­volved in the war, not to aca­demics. He sug­gested that a broader open­ing could come later. — Al Jazeera

Pope Francis

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