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Pope Benedict XVI to resign at the end of the month.

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More about Francis:

Women are naturally unfit for political office. Both the natural order and facts show us that the political being par excellence is male; the Scripture shows us that woman has always been the helper of man who thinks and does, but nothing more.

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There are critics of the new Pope over his alleged involvement with the Argentine military dictatorship during the Dirty War (1976-83), his knowledge of the stolen babies (which echoes aboriginal children being ripped from their families by religious groups and placed with white parents for adoption) and his stance on same sex marriage and same sex adoption rights.

For Argentina native Diego Creimer, a journalist who now handles media relations for Greenpeace out of their Montreal office, the choice is disappointing. "It's an insult to the human rights movement," he says, recalling Bergoglio's role during Argentina's military dictatorship from 1976-83, known as 'the dirty war.'

"It would have been better to choose someone with a clean slate," Creimer says about the cardinals' conclave.

Bergoglio and 'the dirty war'

Tens of thousands of people were kidnapped or killed by the military during those years, as it carried out its campaign against "subversive elements." Although under Bergoglio the Church apologized — but not until 2012 — for its role during the dirty war, many remain angry with the Church, an important reason it has declined in importance in the lives of Argentines.

Bergoglio's own actions during the dirty war have come under scrutiny. In 1976, two of his Jesuit priests, Orlando Yorio and Francisco Jalics, were kidnapped and tortured. "Yorio accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the regime that he endorsed their work," The Associated Press reports.

In an interview with Sergio Rubin for an authorized biography, El jesuita (The Jesuit) that was published in 2010, Bergoglio said that he had taken extraordinary action to free the two priests, according to Rubin. He said mass in dictator Jorge Videla's home and used the occasion to privately appeal for mercy.

Stolen babies

Another famous case in which Bergoglio's name comes up is that of the De La Cuadra family, in which four family members, one of them pregnant, were arrested during the early years of the dirty war. All disappeared but not before Elena gave birth in prison. Elena's mother unsuccessfully sought custody of her baby daughter, Ana.

After the family contacted the Jesuits in Rome, Bergoglio, who then headed the order in Argentina, assigned Monsignor Mario Picchi to investigate. Picchi eventually came back with word from a colonel in charge who said that returning Ana to her family was "impossible" because she "has already been given to too important a family.

Nevertheless, in 2010, Bergoglio testified he was unaware of any stolen babies until after the dictatorship ended in 1983.

The baby's aunt, Estela de la Cuadra, told The Associated Press, "Bergoglio has a very cowardly attitude when it comes to something so terrible as the theft of babies. He says he didn't know anything about it until 1985."

The baby's grandmother was Alicia Zubasnabar de De la Cuadra, the first president of the Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo, which formed in 1977 to search for the estimated 500 babies who were stolen during the dirty war.

Patroni says that the dirty war "is going to be a big issue for the new pope and for the Catholic Church."

Horacio Verbitsky, an award-winning Argentine journalist and human rights activist, wrote about what he called the church's – and Bergoglio's – complicity in the dirty war in his 2005 book El Silencio: de Paulo VI a Bergoglio (The Silence: From Paul VI to Bergoglio).

Same-sex marriage

Argentina's President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner sent a letter to Pope Francis congratulating him and wishing him "a fruitful task as you take over the immense responsibility of fighting for justice, equality, fraternity and peace for humanity."

Fernandez and Bergoglio had frequently clashed over both her government's lack of effectiveness in addressing poverty and on social issues like abortion and same-sex marriage.

The relationship was particularly tense in 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, with full adoption rights, which Bergoglio described as "a move by the Father of the Lie." Fernandez responded that his statements "send us back to medieval times and the Inquisition."

And the Vatican is mounting a PR campaign to try to discredit the critics described as left wing, anti-cleric and bent on defamatory accusations. It seems the concerns strike a chord with Argentinians. While 90 per cent of Argentines are Catholic, only between 10-20 per cent are actually practicing their faith. It seems the new Pope presided over a greatly diminished congregation in his home country.

The Vatican is defending newly elected Pope Francis against allegations he was complicit in human rights abuses during Argentina's 1976-1983 military junta.

"[The accusations] reveal left-wing elements, anti-clerical elements that are used to attack the church," said a Vatican spokesman during a Friday news conference, adding that the allegations are "defamatory."

"They must be firmly and clearly denied.”

During Argentina's troubled period, the military kidnapped or killed tens of thousands of people. The military claimed to be fighting against "subversive elements."

The Vatican says no credible accusation had ever stuck against the new pope, formerly known as Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, who was born in and has lived most of his life in Argentina, said CBC's Karen Pauls from Vatican City. Instead, the Catholic Church is focusing on testimony that the pope actually helped many people privately and publicly during that time, she said.

The Vatican said after Bergoglio became a bishop he was instrumental in persuading the Church to apologize to Argentines "for not having done enough at the time of the dictatorship."

Church, Bergoglio accused of staying silent

However, many Argentines say that apology came too late. They have accused him and the Church over the years of staying silent during a time of human rights abuses, she said. Some even say the Church may have been complicit in turning in some people working against the military dictatorship, she said.

One such accusation came from a Jesuit priest. In 1976, two priests were kidnapped and tortured. One of the pair, Orlando Yorio, accused Bergoglio of effectively handing them over to the death squads by declining to tell the military regime that he endorsed their work.

The Pope has previously said he had taken extraordinary measures to free the pair.

Rev. Federico Lombardi, the Vatican spokesman, noted Friday that one of the two men who was kidnapped, Francisco Jalics, issued a statement on Friday saying the he had subsequently reconciled with Bergoglio.

Jalics, who had maintained his silence about the events until today, said he had spoken with Bergoglio years later, that the two had celebrated Mass together and hugged "solemnly."

"I am reconciled to the events and consider the matter to be closed," he said.

While there has never been any clear evidence that Bergoglio ever put people in harm's way, said CBC's Adrienne Arsenault from Buenos Aires, that doesn't mean people didn't want him to speak up for their rights.

Today, many Argentines are complaining that the new pope stayed too silent during a time the country needed his authoritative voice, she said. One critic compared the situation to a mother not working hard enough to help her children.

She said those wounds have not closed for the mainly Catholic country — where church attendance has been dropping. About 90 per cent of Argentines are Catholic, but only between 10-20 per cent are practicing their faith.

She said many haven't forgotten or forgiven the Church for their actions, or lack of action, during the "dirty war."


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Same pile of crap...different pope. I guess the word "progessive" isn't in the Catholic Church's vocabulary...but that's fine...cause when the reality check tsunami hits in the very near future...and people wake up and realize the bigoted **** that is pouring out of these religious leaders' mouths...then all hell is going to break loose...everywhere.

PS I'm still highly pissed off over the token "apology" to Galileo several years ago. The Catholics might as well still believe the ****ing sun revolves around the earth, as archaic as their other beliefs are.


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