While a military-backed dictatorship in Argentina was conducting a clandestine war on suspected dissidents, then-Father Jorge Mario Bergoglio, the future pope, masterminded a secret strategy to save those being targeted, according to a new book.
Titled “Bergoglio’s List: Those Saved by Pope Francis; Stories Never Told,” also includes the transcript of the then-cardinal’s testimony during a nearly four-hour court interrogation in 2010. A panel of judges was investigating suspected human rights violations committed during the 1976-1983 dictatorship.
The future pope was head of the Jesuit province in the country from 1973 to 1979, the height of the clandestine war, which saw as many as 30,000 Argentines kidnapped, tortured, murdered or disappeared, never to be seen again.
The book, currently only in Italian, was to be released Oct. 1, while excerpts were published in the Italian Catholic daily, Avvenire, Sept. 6.
According to the various testimonies gathered together in the volume, the future pope made sure no one knew who was part of a clandestine network that sheltered or shuttled to safety dissidents, unionists, priests, students, intellectuals, Catholics and others.
“Each person would do one particular favor for (Father Bergoglio) the head of the Jesuits in Argentina: one who would let someone sleep over for one night, another who would give someone a ride, one would put in a good word to a European consulate worker” in getting someone out of the country, said the Vatican paper, L’Osservatore Romano, Sept. 7.
By never letting anyone know he was part of a larger, coordinated effort, then-Father Bergoglio could keep “the risk minimal and let information circulate as little as possible,” the paper said.
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