Translation of statement from Father Franz Jalics SJ

 

McClatchy

Statement by Father Franz Jalics SJ

I lived in Buenos Aires since 1957. In 1974, moved by the inner desire to live the Gospel and enhance visibility of the abject poverty, and with the permission of Archbishop Aramburu and the then Provincial, P. Jorge Mario Bergoglio, I moved to a favela, a slum of the city, together with a fellow brother. While living there, we continued to teach at the university.

About 30,000 people, leftist guerillas as well as innocent civilians, were killed within one or two years by the military junta in the civil war-like situation of the time. The two of us in the slum had no contact to the junta or the guerillas. Due to the lack of information and targeted misinformation at that point in time our position was open to misinterpretation within the church. At this time, we lost connection to one of our lay partners when the person joined the guerilla. When he was captured and interrogated by junta soldiers nine months later, they learned that he had been in contact with us. We were then arrested in the assumption that we were also associated with the guerilla. After a five-day interrorgation, the officer who was in charge of the questioning released us with the words, "Padres, you were not guilty. I will see to it that you can return to the slum." Contrary to this statement and inexplicably to us, we were detained blindfolded and shackled for five months after that. I'm unable to comment on the role of P. Bergoglio in this matter.

After we were set free, I left Argentina. It was only years later that we had the opportunity to discuss the events with Father Bergoglio who in the meantime had been appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires. Following that, we celebrated Mass publicly together and hugged solemnly. I am reconciled with the events and on my part, consider the matter to be closed.

I wish Pope Francis God's rich blessings for his office

Father Franz Jalics SJ 15 March 2013

Translation by C. Himmelreich

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