One Last Post On The New Pope

NCR’s John Allen profiled him the other week. This spot didn’t give me cause for alarm:

These were the years of the military junta in Argentina, when many priests, including leading Jesuits, were gravitating towards the progressive liberation theology movement. As the Jesuit provincial, Bergoglio insisted on a more traditional reading of Ignatian spirituality, mandating that Jesuits continue to staff parishes and act as chaplains rather than moving into “base communities” and political activism.

This is right. Base communities and political activism is for lay people. Clergy have no business in it, and except for basic duties as citizens should leave it to the laity, one-hundred percent.

Some of my liberal sisters and brothers might disagree with me on this, but I think this is essentially a progressive position for modern Catholics. Exceptions might be made, but these would be vanishingly rare. I certainly think the clergy can throw their support behind lay activists. And they should, regardless of ideology. Activism needs to be formed by a deep interior reflection and contemplation. Not by assuming we’re getting contemplatives and reflectors in our midst.


About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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7 Responses to One Last Post On The New Pope

  1. Jen says:

    I’m feeling cautiously optimistic. I’ll take what hope as it comes, you know?

  2. Liam says:


    I agree completely.

  3. nassauny says:

    Please allow a consideration that is far removed from our present joy, but it is concerned with Argentina, a Jesuit, immigrant heritage, and a military government. Camila O’Gorman fell in love with a young Jesuit, fled Buenos Aires with him, and were captured and executed in 1848. Link to Wikipedia here:

    Each Latin American country has its distinct, fascinating history. To me, Argentina is different because of the loss of the Indian population and, let’s say, the influence of modern Europe.

    I recommend the 1984 movie “Camila.”

  4. Jimmy Mac says:

    John Allen may have sanitized his posting a bit. Here is a harsher view of the new pope’s involvement in those days:


    “What one did not hear from any senior member of the Argentine hierarchy was any expression of regret for the church’s collaboration and in these crimes. The extent of the church’s complicity in the dark deeds was excellently set out by Horacio Verbitsky, one of Argentina’s most notable journalists, in his book El Silencio (Silence). He recounts how the Argentine navy with the connivance of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio, now the Jesuit archbishop of Buenos Aires, hid from a visiting delegation of the Inter-American Human Rights Commission the dictatorship’s political prisoners. Bergoglio was hiding them in nothing less than his holiday home in an island called El Silencio in the River Plate. The most shaming thing for the church is that in such circumstances Bergoglio’s name was allowed to go forward in the ballot to chose the successor of John Paul II. What scandal would not have ensued if the first pope ever to be elected from the continent of America had been revealed as an accessory to murder and false imprisonment.”

    I haven’t found anything that contradicts whas Shaughnessey reports and would happy to be directed to anything that does just that.

    • Todd says:

      I’m interested in the timeline on this. In 1976, Fr Bergoglio was a Jesuit priest, seven years ordained, and not very far up the ladder of the episcopacy. Mr O’Shaunnessy doesn’t give us a clear picture of that, or when the “connivance” happened.

      While we’re all concerned about grave sins against human dignity, and while most Latin American prelates come from nations with very questionable human rights histories, Latin America has also produced men like Oscar Romero. Such were formed in the crucible of the experience of injustice, and do themselves no ill credit.

      Wait and see, I suppose.

    • Bill Logan says:

      If you go back to the Shaughnessey article today, you’ll see they’ve made a correction to it:

      This article was amended on 14 March 2013. The original article, published in 2011, wrongly suggested that Argentinian journalist Horacio Verbitsky claimed that Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio connived with the Argentinian navy to hide political prisoners on an island called El Silencio during an inspection by human rights monitors. Although Verbitsky makes other allegations about Bergoglio’s complicity in human rights abuses, he does not make this claim. The original article also wrongly described El Silencio as Bergoglio’s “holiday home”. This has been corrected.

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