So the new Pope was ‘cosy with dictators’, according to the papers. The only sources for that assertion seem to be Latin Americans left-wingers who are obviously and implacably hostile to the Catholic Church. The most damning ‘evidence’ appears to come from an anti-clerical conspiracy theorist called Horacio Verbitsky, who has alleged in a book called ‘The Silence’ that the Catholic Church and Cardinal Bergoglio were complicit with the murderous military dictatorship during Argentina’s ‘dirty war’.
One doesn’t have to be a papist to regard all these hastily re-heated allegations as dubious. (But it helps.) The papers have dug up various other Latin Left ‘activists’ to attack the new Pope. The Times, for instance, is quoting Fortunato Horacio Mallimaci, a sociologist at the Center for Labor Studies and Research in Buenos Aires. Today, however, the Argentine Nobel Prize winner Adolfo Perez Esquivel, has rejected the idea that Bergoglio was guilty of complicity with the Junta.
You take your pick as to who and what to believe, of course. But let’s be clear about how ignorant these snap reports are. The Guardian has today had to amend a key allegation in this attack piece by Hugh O’Shaughnessy. (And, as Cristina Odone notes, just a few seconds after the new Pope was announced, Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger tweeted a link to that article, saying: ’Was Pope Francis an accessory to murder and false imprisonment?’)
I’m ignorant, too, of course. I don’t know the truth of Bergoglio’s record under the Junta. But I know a cheap journalistic smear when I see one — and remember the absurd ‘New Pope is a Nazi’ claims in the wake of Benedict’s election in 2005.
Tags: Roman Catholicism, Vatican