Friday, 22 April 2011

Good Friday

A missing witness to the death of a Roman Catholic bishop during Argentina’s military dictatorship was found safe early Thursday after unknown people took him hostage and warned him to back down from testifying in an inquiry into the death, the witness’s lawyer said on Thursday.  The witness, Víctor Martínez, 52, had been missing since Monday afternoon and the Argentine president, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner, had ordered the country’s security forces to try to find him, fearing he could be killed. “New York Times

This week a bit of the past returned. On the day when we remember the suffering of Christ in services around the world, let’s also remember the suffering of los  desaparecidos and the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo in Argentina after the 1976 coup d’état that resulted in the installment of  the military junta called Proceso de Reorganización Nacional which ruled  from 1976 to 1983. On July 11, 1977, Mr. Martínez was the sole witness when Bishop Carlos Horacio Ponce de León was killed in a purported accidental automobile crash.  He survived the crash and was tortured at the direction of the junta for information on the bishop’s activities with respect to discovering the final destination of political dissidents who disappeared after the coup. The previous year Bishop Enrique Angelli who was also an activist had died in a suspicious car accident. Other church activists including two French nuns were also killed by the regime.

‘The Advocate,’ 17 June 1982

The Vatican was always reticent about the regime considering it a bulk ward against South American leftist anticlericalism and communism. The Argentine papal nuncio Archbishop Pio Laghi maintained support for the junta among the local clergy and represented the tacit acceptance by the Vatican for its human rights abuses including the murder of Roman Catholic clergy and laity.  He later became a Cardinal and was close friends with Admiral Emilio Masse who was convicted in 1999 for trafficking in babies and children during his tenure as one of the leaders of the regime.  According to Hugh O'Shaughnessy in an Independent newspaper obiturary, Emilio was instrumental under Washington’s tutelage in the development of Plan Cóndor, a collaborative scheme to co-ordinate the terrorism being practiced by South American military régimes against dissidents of all strips. In 1982 just before the fall of the regime Pope John Paul made a special papal visit to Argentina in order to bolster the relationship between the Vatican and the junta. In an article by T. Crosthwaite, 2010 from, “The head of the Argentine Church, Cardinal Aramburu, refused to receive the relatives of those who had disappeared.  He also allowed federal police to go into his cathedral to clear out the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo who had taken refuge there.  Another is that of Father Christian von Wernich, a police chaplain during the period of the “dirty war,” who was convicted of complicity in multiple murders, abduction and torture.  At the trial of Father Wernich, which took place in 2007, Father Ruben Capitanio, also a Roman Catholic priest, accused his Church of being “scandalously close to the dictatorship” during the “dirty war.”

‘The Advocate,’ 17 June 1982

Good Friday is about the Roman and Jewish establishments’ attempt to silence Jesus by the power of the state through crucifixion and yet in the centuries since the Passion of Jesus the Church has condoned the abuses of power by the state to maintain its position.

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