The new Pope, born Jorge Mario Bergoglio has been charming the media and public alike with his easy-going approachable manner and simple lifestyle, but this same absence of bloated pomp and crazed hubris is allegedly ‘wearing bloody thin’ among his colleagues at the Vatican’
‘It was all a bit of a novelty at first,’ admitted Cardinal Sergio Venturi, dripping in signet rings and flanked on either side by the Swiss Guard. ‘The first thing he did when he was elected was to get an OAP pass for the municipal pool. We all thought it was rather sweet in a third world kind of way.’
‘But it gets to you after a while; we had the Dalai Lama over last week and where did His Holiness want to hold a banquet in his honour? Only ‘Il Harvestore’ again! There I was, having to explain to Tibetan Buddhism’s supreme spiritual leader about the concept of an unlimited salad bar.’
‘And if your esteemed guest wishes to visit the Ice Cream Factory for afters, order yourself a bloody crème brulee; don’t just sit there nodding benignly while the fourteenth incarnation of the Bodhisattva picks off his marshmallows.’
Another Vatican insider who wished not to be identified went even further: ‘The Holy Roman Church has a long tradition of sickening excess and sociopathic power-brokering. We have toppled whole kingdoms on a single Pontiff’s whim. Anything that stood in our way we crushed under our heel. Il Papa has got this glorious heritage and basically he’s pissing it up a wall. Ungrateful, or what?’
The Head of the Worldwide Catholic Church – or ‘Acting Chairperson’ as His Holiness has taken to calling himself – was unavailable for comment at time of going to press. He was said to be ‘lending a hand with an ecumenical Meals on Wheels service. Or something equally crap.’
Pope Francis was harshly criticized on last Thursday in an Argentine courtroom, where a woman said he didn’t help protect her brother from the country’s military dictatorship.
Graciela Yorio accused Jorge Mario Bergoglio of turning his back on her brother, the late Jesuit priest Orlando Virgilio Yorio, before and after he and another priest were taken by the junta’s agents and tortured in 1976.
Bergoglio has said he did what he could as a young Jesuit leader with no real power to protect Yorio and other slum priests from being kidnapped by the right-wing junta. He testified in 2010 that he worked behind the scenes to win the freedom of Yorio and the other Jesuit slum priest, Francisco Jalics.
Graciela Yorio disagreed.
“My brother was practically abandoned by the church,” said Yorio, who is one of more than 800 witnesses in a two-year trial of 67 defendants accused of human rights violations against 789 people who were detained at the junta’s feared Navy Mechanics School.
Bergoglio told his authorized biographers for the book “The Jesuit” that he did everything in his limited power as a Jesuit leader to appeal to junta and church officials to free the men.
He also testified in the lead-up to this trial that he tried to protect Yorio and Jalics, offering them shelter and protection at a time when any slum priest was in danger from right-wing death squads.
Yorio testified, however, that even before the March 1976 coup, her brother and Jalics were turned away by Bergoglio after being accused of being “subversive and extremists” for their work with the poor. She said they pleaded with Bergoglio to do something to stop “the rumors, because with these rumors their life was in danger.”
But Bergoglio told them he was under too much pressure from church officials, and urged them to find a bishop who might help. None would, she said.
Prosecutor Eduardo Taiano has described what happened to Yorio and Jalics next: After saying Mass on May 23, 1976, they were separated from their parishioners in the Bajo Flores slum, near where Bergoglio grew up in Argentina’s capital, and taken to the Navy Mechanics School’s torture center.
They were blindfolded, chained, gagged, prevented from going to the bathroom or allowed to drink or eat. Yorio was the victim of insults, death threats and electric shocks and was drugged and terrorized during constant interrogations, Taiano determined.
Graciela Yorio said she and her mother went to Bergoglio seeking help.
“We had three interviews, and he never told us anything. Yes, I do remember that he told us, ‘I made good reports.’ He also told me to ‘be very careful, because a sister of another person who didn’t have anything to do with this was detained,'” she testified.
Five months after being taken away, Yorio and Jalics reappeared, drugged and blindfolded, in a field north of Buenos Aires.
Bergoglio told his biographers and the court, in 2010, that the men were freed in part because he quietly and repeatedly intervened with junta leaders to plead for their release.
Yorio died in 2000. Jalics, who now lives in a German monastery, recently said he considers the whole episode to be closed.
But Graciela Yorio said both men felt abandoned by Bergoglio, and by the church hierarchy as a whole.
“My brother was abandoned, expelled, without a bishop, without the support of the Company of Jesus to protect him, and that’s why he was kidnapped. He was practically abandoned by the church,” she said.
BUENOS AIRES — Hundreds of spectators stood through the chilly night in the city’s Plaza de Mayo, the iconic park in front of the Catholic cathedral and government palace, to watch a live Vatican transmission of the ascension of the Argentine pope, Francis. The mass finally began shortly after 5 a.m., to a roar of cheers and chanting in unison: ‘Argentina! Argentina!’
People wrapped themselves in the yellow and white Vatican flags being hawked alongside Francis buttons, calendars, key chains and posters.
While Francis circled St. Peter’s Square in the white pope-mobile, two students of the Catholic University, Federico Chaves and Jonathan Tiberio, both 26, swapped anecdotes about the former Archbishop Jorge Bergoglio, an advisor at their campus, who set up a program at the university for students to teach English and computer classes as volunteers in some of the city’s poorest slums.
“We’re anticipating change at the Vatican because of what he did in Argentina. He worked with everyone, atheists, homosexuals….He’s shown a commitment to bring the church closer to the people, to assimilate it into life,” said Chaves, an economics student.
Tiberio pointed to the then-cardinal’s support for Argentina’s legalization in 2002 of civil unions for gay and lesbian couples, “showing an openness” that stood in stark contrast to the hardline position taken up by Argentina’s conservative Catholic majority.
Indeed, Francis represented a more liberal vein in Argentina’s church, appearing to respond to a leftward shift in Argentina in a bid to staunch the bleeding of his flock.
Argentina’s laws ensuring lesbian, gay and transgender people’s right to marriage — which it extends to non-resident foreigners — and adoption are among the most liberal in the world. Nearly three years since the passage of the law in July 2010, more than 1,000 gay and lesbian couples have tied the knot in Argentina, according to Esteban Paulón, president of the Argentina LGBT Federation.
Meanwhile, the church’s slow decline has continued. According to the Pew Forum, 76.8 percent of Argentina’s population is at least nominally Catholic, but only 33 percent of Catholics interviewed in Argentina in 2010 cited religion as very important in their lives, down from 40 percent in 2002, and only 19 percent said they regularly attended mass.
But it may be the church’s ambiguous stance during Argentina’s last dictatorship, which lasted from 1976 to 1983, that has done the most to damage the institution’s credibility.
Bergoglio, who was also the head of the church’s Argentine Jesuit order, has been harshly criticized for his role during this period, when as estimated 30,000 people were disappeared or killed. In continuing trials, members of the church have even been convicted for human rights crimes.
All this has devastated the church’s credibility, according to José Casanova, a sociologist of religion at Georgetown University’s Berkley Center. The Argentine church “compromised itself by playing a role much more tied to the powers that be,” Casanova said.
Unlike the nuns and priests in El Salvador, Chile, Brazil and the Dominican Republic who spoke out against dictatorship, often becoming victims to it, very few members of Argentina’s church denounced the dictatorship of Gen. Jorge Videla, currently serving multiple life sentences for human rights crimes. This near-absolute silence has been interpreted since as acquiescence, and even complicity.
Perhaps for this reason, Bergoglio’s efforts to present a more charismatic church fell flat.
Estela de Carlotto, the president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group formed in 1977 that focuses on identifying grandchildren born to mothers in captivity and appropriated by military families, has accused Bergoglio of being “part of the church that has obscured the country’s history.”
And for Argentina, that history is still unfolding.
A contingent of priests led by Eduardo de la Serna, a parish priest in San Francisco Solano and the coordinator of the Group of Priests in Option of Argentina’s Poor, has demanded that the church cease giving communion to incarcerated ex-dictator Jorge Videla and publish the records of the military’s Catholic confessors.
One Argentine priest is currently on trial on charges of working closely with torturers in a secret jail during the dictatorship, while another was recently accused of taking a newborn from his mother, one of the many baby thefts from female prisoners who were “disappeared.”
Church and military hierarchies blurred as a priest and Navy captain was accused of using biblical verses to soothe pilots conducting the so-called “death flights,” in which prisoners were drugged and dropped into the Río de la Plata and sea.
As the leader of Argentina’s Jesuits for part of that time, Francis has had to testify in court cases surrounding the dictatorship’s largest clandestine prison and torture center, the old Argentine Navy School of Mechanics, or ESMA, building, and in the case of the kidnapping of two priests in his order in 1976. The priests, whom Cardinal Bergoglio had dismissed from the order a week before their disappearance, were discovered five months later on the outskirts of Buenos Aires, drugged and partially nude.
The cardinal and his supporters have pushed back. His spokesman dismissed the charge that Bergoglio was involved with the priests’ arrest and detention as “old slander.” Bergoglio also testified in 2010 that he had met secretly with Videla and the head of the Navy, Emilio Massera, to ask for the priests’ release. The following year, prosecutors called him to the witness stand to testify on the military junta’s systematic kidnapping of children.
But even some Argentine priests admit that the church has lost credibility since the dirty war — which may explain why it has lost so many public debates on issues as diverse as abortion and the right to die.
“The faith of the people is in God, not in priests. Argentines consider themselves Catholic if they pray to the Virgin, baptize their children, celebrate feast days. Compliance with certain ecclesiastical norms? No. They’ll say, ‘what does it matter what the priest thinks?'” Father de la Serna told me.
And as much as the new pope has come to be known in recent days for his compassion and humility, the church Bergoglio led from 1998 to 2013 maintained its orthodox, conservative positions on the major social issues of the day, pitting him against President Kirchner, with whom he tangled bitterly over social issues. Amid a fierce same-sex marriage debate in 2010, Kirchner described the then-cardinal’s views, expressed in a private letter lambasting same-sex marriage legislation as “a destructive claim on God’s plan,” as “medieval and reminiscent of the Inquisition.”
The church has also alienated itself from women parishioners with its inflexible stance on reproduction. As archbishop, Bergoglio publicly opposed sex education, the free distribution of condoms, and a law passed in Buenos Aires last year permitting abortion in the case of rape. Mabel Bianco, head of the non-profit Foundation for Women’s Study and Research, says that some Catholic women are turning to Protestant churches with less vocal views or simply ignoring church doctrine on reproductive issues. “The fundamentalists tend to be the high society, with incomes that afford them private services, but the poor women, they are completely alone. If they are leaving the church it is because it is not meeting their needs,” she says.
Fellow bishops describe Bergoglio as always seeking dialogue and consensus, and church workers who have long known him say his private behavior and positions were different than the conservative face he showed the public. But even in public, he once washed the feet of HIV patients and spoke out against the “mafias” running human trafficking rings. He held a mass each year in the gritty, open-air plaza of the ill-reputed neighborhood of Constitución, where he once described the city’s levels of poverty as “scandalous.”
And poverty may be the issue Bergoglio really cares about. Father José Juan Cervantes, 42, the ebullient director of the archbishop’s social outreach program at the Mother of Immigrants church in La Boca section of Buenos Aires, says Bergoglio was much more focused on working with the poor and speaking about their plight than defending church orthodoxy: “He said what he had to say, but the challenge to him wasn’t about being confrontational; it was about working with the poor to build justice.”
The 76-year-old emerged from the balcony of St Peter’s Basilica to the cry of “Habemus Papam!” (“We Have a Pope!”), as tens of thousands of pilgrims clambered over barriers and broke down in tears, overcome with emotion after suspenseful prayer vigils worldwide.
Bergoglio is the first Jesuit to become pope but he brings to the Vatican a legacy of controversy.
If you are Catholic and wished for a beacon of light and hope I am afraid you will be disappointed
The following is an abbreviated version pf the Pope views from Wikipedia
Relations with the Argentine government
Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio meets Argentine president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner.
On 15 April 2005, a human rights lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Bergoglio, as superior in the Society of Jesus of Argentina, accusing him of involvement in the kidnapping by the Navy in May 1976 (during the Dirty War) of two Jesuit priests. The priests, Orlando Yorio and Franz Jalics, were found alive five months later, drugged and semi-naked. Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work. Jalics refused to discuss it after moving into seclusion in a German monastery. Horacio Verbitsky, an Argentine investigative journalist and former montonero, wrote a book about this and other related events titled El Silencio: de Paulo VI a Bergoglio: las relaciones secretas de la Iglesia con la ESMA. Verbitsky also writes that the Argentine Navy with the help of Cardinal Bergoglio hid the dictatorship’s political prisoners in Bergoglio’s holiday home from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission.
According to the book, after their release, Yorio accused the then-Provincial of his Jesuit order San Miguel, Jorge Mario Bergoglio, to have denounced him. Father General Pedro Arrupe in Rome was informed by letter or during the abduction, both he and Orlando Yorio were excluded from the Jesuit Order.
Bergoglio told his authorized biographer, Sergio Rubin, that after the priests’ imprisonment, he worked behind the scenes for their release; Bergoglio’s intercession with dictator Jorge Rafael Videla on their behalf may have saved their lives. “The cardinal could not justify why these two priests were in a state of helplessness and exposed,” according to Luis Zamora, who said that Bergoglio’s testimony “demonstrates the role of the Church during the last military dictatorship.”
Abortion and Euthanasia
Bergoglio has encouraged his clergy and laity to oppose both abortion and euthanasia, describing the pro-choice movement as a “culture of death”. Francis opposed the free distribution of contraceptives in Argentina. The document links worthiness to receive the Eucharist, to compliance and acceptance of Church teaching against “abominable crimes” such as abortion and euthanasia
“We hope that legislators, heads of government, and health professionals, conscious of the dignity of human life and of the rootedness of the family in our peoples, will defend and protect it from the abominable crimes of abortion and euthanasia; that is their responsibility … We should commit ourselves to ‘eucharistic coherence’, that is, we should be conscious that people cannot receive Holy Communion and at the same time act or speak against the commandments, in particular when abortion, euthanasia, and other serious crimes against life and family are facilitated. This responsibility applies particularly to legislators, governors, and health professionals.”
Statements made during his presentation which referred to a topical Argentine abortion case were opposed by that country’s government, who stated[who?] that “the diagnosis of the Church in relation to social problems in Argentina is correct, but to mix that with abortion and euthanasia, is at least a clear example of ideological malfeasance.”
Bergoglio has affirmed church teaching on homosexuality, including that “men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies must be accepted with respect and compassion.He opposes same-sex marriage, and strongly, but ultimately unsuccessfully, opposed legislation introduced in 2010 to allow same-sex marriage in Argentina, calling it a “real and dire anthropological throwback.” In a letter to the monasteries of Buenos Aires, he wrote: “Let’s not be naïve, we’re not talking about a simple political battle; it is a destructive pretension against the plan of God. We are not talking about a mere bill, but rather a machination of the Father of Lies[ that seeks to confuse and deceive the children of God.”] Bergoglio has also stated that adoption by same-sex couples is a “form of discrimination against children.