Monday, March 18, 2013

Cristina Fernández has an audience with papa Francisco I

Argentine President Cristina Fernández had an audience with the Pope today. She raised the issue of Britain's continuing occupation of the Malvinas/Falkland Islands. (CFK: "Le pedimos a Francisco que interceda en el diálogo entre Argentina y Gran Bretaña" Página/12 18.03.2013) It will be interesting to see if Bergoglio/Pope Francis I gets actively involved in promoting serious diplomatic negotiations between Britain and Argentina over the Malvinas. In his previous positions, he has indicated his support for Argentina regaining its rightful control over the islands. But that was a very safe position in Argentine politics, since it's supported across the political spectrum.

Cristina recalled that Pope John Paul II had helped mediate negotiations between Argentina and Chile over a long-running border dispute when both were ruled by dictatorships. Since Argentina and Britain are both democratic countries now, conditions for similar negotiations over the Malvinas are more favorable, she said.

She also said they expressed their mutual agreement on the need to oppose human trafficking and slave labor. And she invited him to visit Argentina in his new role.

It's nice to know the Pope is opposed to slavery.

Cristina praised Bergoglio/Francis for referring to Latin America as "la Patria Grande," a term associated with San Martín y Bolívar, heroes of the Latin American independence movement and which emphasizes the unity of Latin American nations.

Here is the video released by the President's office, la Casa Rosada, of Cristina's press conference talking about her meeting with the Pope, 18 de MAR. Conferencia de prensa de Cristina Fernández de Kirchner. Asunción Francisco I (Spanish with Italian translations):

Osvaldo Pepe editorializes in the anti-Cristina Clarín in a piece called Una oportunidad para Cristina 18.03.13. The opportunity of which the title speaks? He basically says it's an opportunity for Cristina and her supporters to shut the hell up about Bergoglio's actions or lack thereof during the 1976-83 dictatorship.

Liberation theologian Jon Sobrino discusses the new Pope in an interview published in Noticias de Gipuzkoa, "Bergoglio no fue un Romero, se alejó de los pobres durante el genocidio argentino" by Concha Lago 16.03.02013; Commonweal, which has been reporting on the questions around Bergoglio's dealings with the Argentine junta, includes a partial translation in Sobrino on Bergoglio by Eduardo Peñalver 03/18/2013.

Sobrino emphasizes his hope that Bergoglio/Francis will take seriously the need to make the Church genuinely a Church exercising a preferential option for the poor and not a Church that sides with the wealthy against the poor. He also stresses the need to improve the status of women within the Church, to give greater attention to environmental issues, and to reform the Vatican Curia. His comment on abortion in this interview is ambiguous and could be read as approval of Bergoglio's outspoken anti-abortion stand in Argentina.

On the question of Bergoglio's dealings with the dictatorship, Sobrino is careful not to accuse him of "culpability" in the dictatorship's crimes. But he effectively judges him guilty of irresponsibility and possibly even cowardice - though he doesn't use either word - by noting that he distanced himself from the "popular Church" that was actively engaged with poor communities and paying attention to their material as well as spiritual needs. Which, of course, fit in with the program of the junta for the Church.It's hard not to see a touch of bitter sarcasm in what he says of Bergoglio here:

En todo ello se aprecia una forma suya específica de hacer la opción por los pobres. No así en salir activa y arriesgadamente en su defensa en las épocas de represión de las criminales dictaduras militares. La complicidad de la jerarquía eclesiástica con las dictaduras es conocida. Bergoglio fue superior de los jesuitas de Argentina desde 1973 hasta 1979, en los años de mayor represión del genocidio cívico militar.

{In all that, one can assess his specific way of making the option for the poor. Not in actively going out and risking oneself in their defense in the periods of repression of the criminal military dictatorships. The complicity of the Church hierarchy with the dictatorships is known. Bergoglio was superior of the Jesuits in Argentina from 1973 to 1979, in the years of the worst repression of civil-military genocide.} [from the translation used by Peñalver with my corrections]
He also pointedly refers to the examples of Latin American Church leaders who literally became martyrs or who suffered or were seriously persecuted during that period because of their defense of human rights, including Óscar Arnulfo Romero of El Salvador, Juan José Gerardi Conedera of Guatemala, Leónidas Proaño of Ecuador, Helder Camara, Aloysius Lorscheider of Brazil, and Samuel Ruiz of Mexico. He says that "los mártires por la justicia, es lo mejor que tenemos en la Iglesia. Es lo que la hacen parecida a Jesús de Nazaret" ("the martyrs for justice, that is the best that we have in the Church. It is what makes it resemble Jesus of Nazareth.")

This is not, as the dissembling Jesuit Bergoglio partisan Thomas Reese might like us to believe, demanding that "every Christian" be a martyr. It's holding up the highest examples as a way of judging where Bergoglio falls on the continuum between principled resistance and crass collaboration.

Peñalver in his blog posts has been focusing on the issues raised by Bergoglio's relationship to the dictatorship. In Popes and Dirty Wars 03/13/2013, he writes:

The Church has a lot of ugly secrets in Latin America. Liberation Theology, whatever its flaws, represented — as a cultural matter — an historic break with shameful tradition in which church, army and oligarchy stood together to defend an unjust status quo, by any means necessary. Keeping silent or perhaps even working quietly behind the scenes in a few cases while thousands were tortured, raped and killed for the crime of demanding political freedom and economic dignity was — for those in a position to do more — often a form of complicity. Even that limited intercession raises questions, since it would not have been possible without ties to the murderous regime. To their credit, some in the Argentine hierarchy refused to stay quiet. Our new Pope was not among them.
In More on Bergoglio and the Dirty War 03/17/2013, he provides an article by political scientist Charles Kenney, which is the best summary I've seen in English so far on the issues relating to Bergoglio and the dictatorship, though it doesn't include anything specific about his connection to the Iron Guard group.

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