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Response to RoccoR5955 (Reply #2)

Thu Nov 29, 2012, 06:28 AM

37. It has been kept hidden, but the Catholic Church sanctioned this Dirty War, too.

The chaplains and the “death flights”

New evidence is coming to light about the role of state-funded chaplains in supporting the Argentine junta's reign of terror from 1976 to 1983. Chaplains in the police and the military reassured those who were haunted by the screams of the people they abducted, tortured and murdered — and helped them carry on. One chaplain has even been convicted for particpating in these crimes.

President Juan Peron angered the Catholic Church by legalising divorce and prostitution and in 1955 he was excommunicated by Pope Pius XII. He was then deposed by a military junta. The Vatican quickly concluded a military concordat with the generals. This agreement set up a special chaplaincy for the military, which separated the military personnel and their families from the dioceses where they lived.

All levels of the military chaplaincy urged cooperation with the junta and provided religious reasons for doing so. The evidence is massive and this is merely a small selection:

● The head of the military chaplaincy, Archbishop Adolfo Servando Tortolo had a long meeting with the junta on the very day of the 1976 coup that launched the Dirty War. As he left the meeting Tortolo urged the population to "cooperate in a positive way" with the new government.

● Bishop Emilio Graselli was Tortolo's secretary and kept a list for the military chaplaincy of people who had been disappeared, marking with a cross the names of those confirmed dead by the military.

● After the coup Bishop Victorio Bonamin, head chaplain for the army, asserted “that when a military man is carrying out his repressive duty, ‘Christ has entered with truth and goodness,’ ”

● At the trial of former chief police chaplain for the province of Buenos Aires Christian Von Wernich several former prisoners described how Father Von Wernich used his office to win their trust before passing information to police torturers and killers in secret detention centres. They testified that he also attended several torture sessions and absolved the police of blame, telling them they were doing God’s work.

● According to naval officer Adolfo Scilingo, Father Alberto Ángel Zanchetta who served as a chaplain at ESMA, “the Auschwitz of Argentina”, consoled the officers who were stricken with anguish. Their tasks ranged from routine torture and executions to participation in “death flights”, in which prisoners were drugged, stripped naked and pushed from planes to drown in the ocean below. After his first flight, Scilingo was wracked by guilt, but the military chaplain told him that this was a “Christian and non-violent” way to die and justified it by citing the Biblical parable about separating the wheat from the chaff.


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Judi Lynn Nov 2012 OP
Scurrilous Nov 2012 #1
freshwest Nov 2012 #5
RoccoR5955 Nov 2012 #2
Tumbulu Nov 2012 #3
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Gore1FL Nov 2012 #4
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Kaleva Nov 2012 #32
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patrice Nov 2012 #16
jeggus Nov 2012 #28
LineLineNew Reply It has been kept hidden, but the Catholic Church sanctioned this Dirty War, too.
Judi Lynn Nov 2012 #37
bitchkitty Nov 2012 #7
patrice Nov 2012 #15
struggle4progress Nov 2012 #9
Curmudgeoness Nov 2012 #10
robinlynne Nov 2012 #17
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