Global Politics

Pope Francis and Argentina's Dirty War

Pope.jpg

Pope Francis prays privately for guidance in Rome as he prepares to lead the Catholic Church into the future. Back home in Argentina, some are questioning his past. (REUTERS/Osservatore Romano)

Pope Francis began his first full day on the job with a simple act.

Player utilities

(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.)

After praying at a church in Rome, he stopped by the hotel where he'd been staying before the conclave to pick up his bags and pay the bill himself.

The gesture was in keeping with the new Pope's reputation as a simple and modest man.

But many around the globe are just starting to learn about his past in his native Argentina.

Jorge Mario Bergoglio was head of the Jesuit Order in Argentina during much of that nation's darkest episode, the so-called Dirty War in the 1970s and early '80s.

That's when the military government, fearful of a communist uprising, arrested and murdered tens of thousands of people suspected of leftist sympathies.

The Catholic Church has been criticized for its silence during the Dirty War, and Bergoglio in particular for some specific actions.

"Some people will always feel that he should have done more," says Veronica Smink, an Argentine journalist who reports for the BBC from Buenos Aires. "Others will feel that he did what he could due to the circumstances."

Comments