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Pope Francis I was only introduced as the new leader of the Catholic Church, but the Vatican has already been forced to defend him against accusations that he ignored human rights violations in his home country of Argentina during the ‘Dirty War’ in the 1970s.
“There has never been a credible, concrete accusation against him,” said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi, said in a statement today, reports The BBC. He blamed the claims on an “anti-clerical left-wing elements that are used to attack the Church.”
During the 1970s, the pope, formerly Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio, was the superior of the Jesuit order in Argentina, notes The New York Times. During the decade, Argentina was under military dictatorship rule in a period known as the ‘Dirty War.’ Father Lombardi insisted that there was “no compromise by Cardinal Bergoglio with the dictatorship.”
The specific accusations against Pope Francis involve two Jesuits who were abducted in 1976 by the dictatorship. Francis is accused of not doing enough to shield them, but his official biographer says that he “took extraordinary, behind-the-scenes action to save them.”
Another accusation claims that Francis was told about a baby whose mother was kidnapped while she was still pregnant in 1977. But in 2010, when Francis was still a cardinal, he testified that he didn’t know about it until after the military junta lost power.
Francis was elected on Wednesday, succeeding Pope Benedict XVI, who resigned last month. Francis is the first pope from the Americas.