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Media coverage omits Pope's sullied past

The elevation of Pope Francis has received the usual supine, unquestioning media coverage and been hailed by heads of government around the world.

But missing from the flattering coverage were any serious questions that have been raised in Argentina about Bergoglio's role within the Church during the military junta's rule between 1976 and 1983. During this time, an estimated 30,000 left-wing opponents of the junta were "disappeared" in a US-backed 'dirty war'.

The Argentinian Catholic Church enjoyed intimate relations with the military, both in the lead-up to its seizure of power and under the junta itself.

Bergoglio was ordained in 1969 and served as the Jesuit Provincial for Argentina between 1973 and 1979, before becoming rector of the Philosophical and Theological Faculty of San Miguel between 1980 and 1986.

In the 1990s, he began to be promoted up the Church hierarchy by Pope John Paul II.

Under the junta's rule, Bergoglio worked to enforce within his Jesuit order the Vatican's edicts against liberation theology.

In 2012, responding to growing disgust among ordinary Argentines, Bergoglio issued a statement on behalf of the country's bishops, formally apologising for the Church's "failures" during the dirty war, while at the same time placing equal blame for the violence on the military dictatorship and its left-wing opponents.

alan hinnrichs

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