Tuesday, July 24th 2012 - 21:36 UTC

Argentine military dictator confirms Catholic Church hierarchy was well aware of the “disappeared”

Argentine former military dictator said he kept the country’s Catholic hierarchy informed about his regime’s policy of “disappearing” political opponents, and that Catholic leaders offered advice on how to “manage” the policy.

Cardinal Primatesta met regularly with Videla and Papal nuncio Laghi played tennis with Masssera

Ex General Jorge Videla said he had “many conversations” with Argentina’s primate, Cardinal Raúl Francisco Primatesta, about his regime’s dirty war against left-wing activists. He said there were also conversations with other leading bishops from Argentina’s episcopal conference as well as with the country’s papal nuncio at the time, Pio Laghi.

“They advised us about the manner in which to deal with the situation,” said Videla in a series of interviews conducted by the magazine El Sur in 2010 but published last Sunday.

He said that in certain cases church authorities offered their “good offices” and undertook to inform families looking for “disappeared” relatives to desist from their searches, but only if they were certain the families would not use the information to denounce the Junta.

“In the case of families that it was certain would not make political use of the information, they told them not to look any more for their child because he was dead,” said Videla. He said the church “understood well . . . and also assumed the risks” of such involvement.

The confession, if truthful confirms long-held suspicions that Argentina’s Catholic hierarchy collaborated with the military’s so-called process of national reorganisation, which sought to root out communism. In the years following the 1976 coup led by Videla, thousands of left-wing activists were swept up into secret detention centres where they were tortured and murdered. Military chaplains were assigned as spiritual advisers to the junior officers who staffed the centres.

In contrast to the Catholic hierarchy in Brazil, where church leaders denounced that country’s military dictatorship and provided sanctuary to its victims, in Argentina bishops were prominent defenders of the regime against accusations of human rights abuses from abroad.

At the height of the state’s offensive, Cardinal Primatesta refused to meet with mothers of the disappeared who, in the face of violent intimidation and media silence, were seeking help in finding out what had happened to their missing loved ones. He also prohibited the lower clergy from speaking out against state violence, even as death squads targeted Catholic priests critical of the regime.

The cardinal’s defenders said he believed a break with the regime would be counter- productive and that in private he characterised disappearances and torture as against the Christian spirit. On his death in 2006 human rights campaigners in Argentina said he took to the grave many of the junta’s secrets after they failed to force him to testify about his dealings with it.

Accusations of collaboration with the Junta also dogged the subsequent career of Laghi, who had been a regular tennis partner of the Navy’s representative in the junta, Admiral Emilio Eduardo Massera, when in Buenos Aires.

The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo human rights group tried to prosecute him in Italy for his involvement with Argentina’s dictatorship but the effort failed.

He gave the interview to El Sur on condition that it be published only after his death, saying he did not want to cause any more pain. But the magazine said it was released from its obligation after Videla subsequently gave a series of interviews to other journalists that were published.

23 comments Feed

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1 briton (#) Jul 24th, 2012 - 09:43 pm Report abuse
Now tell us something we did not already know,

The popes standing behind you,
listening to every bad word .
2 Joe Bloggs (#) Jul 24th, 2012 - 09:52 pm Report abuse
Is there any wonder why the Catholic church, like most churches, is in such a huge decline? They have little relevance in this world dominated by secular humanism.

I admit that some churches do a lot for the truly down and out but for every person truly down and out there are ten others a little better off (not much) being bled dry of every penny they have spare by a methodical and relentless church. Any one who travels regularly through a lot of third world nations like I do will know what I mean.
3 ElaineB (#) Jul 24th, 2012 - 10:09 pm Report abuse
@2 I do. It is interesting that the higher the poverty, the greater the power of the church. One would almost think they perpetuated the poverty to keep their power. Hmmm.
4 Joe Bloggs (#) Jul 24th, 2012 - 10:20 pm Report abuse
3 Elaine

I had a feeling you'd know what I mean. It's so obvious when you see it as an outsider but try and tell any of the flock and they'd have your head. You go into their offices and they're plastered with biblical texts and they have books with really frightening titles sitting prominently on their desks. You drive along the roads on a church day and all the old dears are out in their “Sunday Best” hitching rides. I always give them a lift when I can. It's so sad.
5 Bongo (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 12:28 am Report abuse
Joe Bloggs.

Utter claptrap. Religion in worldwide decline? Really? Do you have the statistics to back this up? The research I've seen indicates that religion, worldwide, is on the rise, particularly in countries such as China and Russia where worship was actively discouraged or banned outright by the state. Note that this is the lifting of repression that is allowing people to embrace religion, not the repression of people BY religion.

You say “they have little relevance in a world dominated by secular humanism”. What world do you live in? Again, research demonstrates that secular humanists, or “atheists” to call a spade a spade, are very much a rather noisy worldwide minority. Perhaps it just seems like there's more of them because they rant so much. Statistically even the much-vaunted New Atheism is withering to its roots.

It seems fashionable today to blame all the worlds ills on the big bad bogeyman of religion. Perhaps you would like to have lived in Stalinist Russia to experience what an atheistic state is capable of? Come to think of it, why don't you move to North Korea and see first hand secular humanism taken to its logical conclusion.

Indeed, there are many of us today questioning the relevance of secular humanists (perhaps a more accurate label would be “dumb primates” but that would probably be cruel) in the modern world, especially when spouting unsupported propaganda like this.

Tsk tsk.
6 Joe Bloggs (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 06:19 am Report abuse
5 Bongo

Oh dear. They always come out hard when challenged and you live up to that stereotype nicely. Primates huh? Have a look at the world's most eminent scientists and see how many believe in a God. Not many. Some avoid the question for the sake of their image, some say they believe in God but usually privately admit they are lying and most, simply say they don't believe in a God.

Don't worry though. Being a man of high morals I tell my children that just because someone believes in God, that doesn't make them a bad person. You can pretend to continue to believe in God; it doesn't bother me but I stand by what I say. Religion in the world- and in particular the Roman Catholic church- is in huge decline.

Chuckle chuckle
7 TreborDoyle (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 08:35 am Report abuse
Well, well :)

The Church up to its usual tricks again ... power playing!

This unholy Roman Catholic Church is a folly standing on the shoulders of great people (its followers), but betraying their interests time after time after time.

I shun them!
8 mclayoscar (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 09:25 am Report abuse

RC Church, one of the biggest mass murderers in history. Religion is a personal matter.
9 Joe Bloggs (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 10:18 am Report abuse
Churches and in particular the RC church get far bigger audiences and opportunities of influence than their memberships deserve. That is changing and will continue to and the churches know it. That's why they're becoming more and more vocal and more and more desperate to recruit new members.

What makes me laugh more than anything is when a “Christian” asks me for evidence of what I say. Evidence? LOL! Ask a “Christian” for evidence next time one wastes your time telling you there is a God.
10 Conqueror (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 10:55 am Report abuse
Nothing new here. The Catholic Church was very instrumental in setting up and facilitating the “rat-runs” that enabled so many nazi war criminals to flee to Latin America. No doubt the nazis paid lots of money and the RC Church has always liked having money. Conveniently, I expect that they can “bless” the cash and the bloodstains just disappear. Why would there be any surprise about argieland? It has been using nazi methods for at least 70 years. Even the activity against the Falklands bears the stamp of nazism. Just go back and check out Hitler's acquisition of territory before WW2 started and see the parallels. Who doesn't the Catholic Church publicly condemn argieland's blatant imperialist colonialism and war-mongering? Is it because the Islanders are Protestants, or because the Church is on a promise of megabucks?
11 EnginnerAbroad (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 12:55 pm Report abuse
Organised religion is nothing but the manipulation of people based on the concept of “faith” (something which by its very defifntion can never be proved to be either true or false) in order to establish and mantain the politcal power of those at the top of the said religion. The catholic church is one of the worst for this and has been doing so for thousands of years Crusades, Spanish Inquistion, Missionary work, child sex abuse etc etc.

I am not doubting a lot of people find comfort and peace in their relgious beliefs but I am afraid they are manipulated.

Any organsiation which states you must listen to me as a man who has been appopinted by God to see his will done or you will spend internity in pain and suffering is as moraly corrupt and repungnant as any corrupt bank, company or political system.
12 Joe Bloggs (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 01:03 pm Report abuse
11 Engineer

I couldn't agree more with you.
13 ElaineB (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 02:02 pm Report abuse
@5 Gosh, what an overreaction.
14 Joe Bloggs (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 02:16 pm Report abuse
13 ElaineB

Religious people don't like anybody stepping on their turf. Very sensitive. Of course they are worried that the world might realise just how small a minority they are.

It is generally accepted that about one third of the world's population is of Christian origin. What the bible bashers are much more reluctant to tell you is that only about one in twenty of that figure actually practices/ believes/ attends church.

Like I've said all along; the church is increasingly irrelevant and stories like the one at the top of this thread is a big reason why.

About to go flying again. Fourth last trip for the year and counting. Come on December/ January. Two whole months without a trip!
15 EnginnerAbroad (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 02:50 pm Report abuse

Exacly, there is a huge difference between saying I am from a (for example) christian culture (which mearly implies you you acknollege your cultural background and hisotry has been shaped by christinaity i.e. Celebration fo Christmas as cultural concept) and saying I am a christian (I support the teachings of some organsised relgious entitity and believe in the existence of an all being being/creator).
16 Clyde15 (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 06:00 pm Report abuse
Religion has been used through the centuries to keep the masses in check.
Do as we and your God appointed masters tell you or you will burn in the eternal fires of hell.
I personally have never met a Christian. My memories of Christianity, when I was forced to attend Sunday school and Church, was that having money while there were poor people was incompatible with Christ's teachings. If anything, Christ (if he existed) was a left wing socialist.
I look at the trappings of the R.C. Church and this at variance with the teachings of Christianity.
Look at the role of the Catholic Church in Spain, under Franco and the Vatican in Hitler and Mussolini's time.

Why don't the Churches use their huge wealth to ease the suffering of the poor in the third world.
17 British_Kirchnerist (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 06:21 pm Report abuse
While most of the simplistic comments denounce the Church, and religion, in the most general and sweeping terms, the article itself points out that the scandalous behaviour of the Argentine hierarchy was the opposite of an honourable record in Brazil. Whether thats down to deep sociological reasons or just a better archbishop is hard to say. But its clear religion and religious people can be a force for both good and bad in the world. And the question of whether there is a God or not is something else again. Although Marx was probably the greatest economist who ever lived, I think he got that one wrong...
18 ElaineB (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 06:35 pm Report abuse
@14 I think Latin America and its history with the catholic church is quite fascinating. The power they have in individual countries is equal to the amount of poverty and the oppression of women. An exception to the rule could be Chile where poverty is far less than most LatAm countries but the catholic church still retains a lot of power and influence. Chileans argue that it is fading but you only have to look at where the wealth and power really is there.

Safe trip. I am home for the Olympics and awaiting my itinerary for the next trip but it looks like I am heading back to the Southern Cone. : )
19 briton (#) Jul 25th, 2012 - 09:49 pm Report abuse
you can tell bongoooooo was a plant,

he has done his work, and now gone to seed .
20 British_Kirchnerist (#) Jul 26th, 2012 - 08:20 am Report abuse
#16 ”If anything, Christ (if he existed) was a left wing socialist“

Good point

#18 ”I am home for the Olympics”

And what do you think of them then? Not allowed to dring your own bottle of Pepsi or wear Nike clothes in the stadium because their rivals are sponsors, along with the likes of Dow Chemicals of Agent Orange and Bhopal fame. Not a bad move by Cristina to stay away methinks...
21 ElaineB (#) Jul 26th, 2012 - 04:34 pm Report abuse
Is there anything you don't complain about? If a company has paid millions to be the fizzy drinks supplier for the Olympics, then they have a right to sell their brand at the games. And you CAN wear any branded clothing. If a group of people all wearing the same slogan t-shirt in an attempt to gain free publicity - as happened at the last World Cup - then that should be banned. Why? Because they haven't paid to advertise and are trying to get something for nothing.

I am loving the Olympics and just about everyone I talk to is too. It is a great opportunity to promote the UK, we have an extra 1m tourists in London all putting money into the economy, vast amounts have been spent on improving the infrastructure that will be enjoyed for years to come, but most importantly it is fun. So, I will be going to enjoy the events with millions of other, and I really don't mind buying a drink and a meal at the event because I am not a tight-arse.

CFKC is not in London because she knows she is a pariah and she does not have the balls to turn up and support the Argentines representing the country she is President of. I can't think that anyone other than you actually gives a rat's arse.
22 briton (#) Jul 26th, 2012 - 08:36 pm Report abuse
the girls were great, they are becoming more and more popular,

and we won,

on TV now , GBR is [ 1-0 ] up
its not a bad start,
but a long way to go.
23 British_Kirchnerist (#) Jul 27th, 2012 - 12:13 am Report abuse
#21 We are clearly not going to agree on much!!!

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