Vatican defends pope against what it calls anti-clerical campaign

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Associated Press

Posted on March 15, 2013 at 3:01 PM

Updated Friday, Mar 15 at 3:34 PM

VATICAN CITY (AP) — The Vatican is pointing out that courts in Argentina have never accused Pope Francis of a crime as a result of his actions during Argentina's military junta from 1976 to 1983.

And in fact, a spokesman says, there's evidence he protected people from Argentina's military as it kidnapped and killed thousands of people, trying to eliminate leftist opponents.

The Vatican is denouncing what it calls an "anti-clerical left-wing" campaign to discredit the new pope. The most serious accusation against him is that as the military took over in Argentina, he withdrew his support for two slum priests, whose activist colleagues were disappearing. The priests were then kidnapped and tortured.

Like most Argentines, Jose Mario Bergoglio (HOHR'-hay MA'-ree-oh bur-GOHG'-lee-oh) failed to openly confront the murderous dictatorship that took power in Argentina. But human rights activists differ on how much responsibility he personally deserves.

He ran the Jesuit order in Argentina during the dictatorship.

The Vatican noted today that a Jesuit who was kidnapped during the dictatorship -- in a case that involved Bergoglio -- has issued a statement today saying that the two have reconciled.

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172-w-35-(Mark Smith, AP correspondent, with The Reverend Thomas Rosica, Vatican spokesman)--The Vatican is lashing out at critics of Pope Francis who say he was tainted by involvement with Argentina's military junta in the '70s and '80s. AP correspondent Mark Smith reports. (15 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *172 (03/15/13)>> 00:35

164-a-05-(The Reverend Thomas Rosica (roh-SEE'-kah), spokesman, at briefing)-"in his regard"-Vatican spokesman Father Thomas Rosica says none of the allegations against Pope Francis have ever been proven. (15 Mar 2013)

<<CUT *164 (03/15/13)>> 00:05 "in his regard"

GRAPHICSBANK: Pope Francis celebrates his inaugural Mass with cardinals inside the Sistine Chapel, Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano photo, on texture, partial graphic (14 Mar 2013)

APPHOTO XOB104: People walk at St.Peter's at the Vatican, two days after Argentine Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio was elected with the name of Pope Francis, Friday, March 15, 2013. Pope Francis has paid a heartfelt tribute to his predecessor Benedict XVI, saying his faith and teaching had "enriched and invigorated" the Catholic Church and would remain its spiritual patrimony forever. (AP Photo/Oded Balilty) (15 Mar 2013)

<<APPHOTO XOB104 (03/15/13)>>

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