NATIONAL CATHOLIC REPORTER
AUGUST 1, 1997
Laghi refutes accusations
[Accusations not "refuted". Merely denied ... JP]
In his first comprehensive comments on new accusations that he was involved in Argentina's "dirty war," Cardinal Pio Laghi said, "Perhaps I was not a hero, but I certainly was not an accomplice."
The cardinal, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, served as apostolic nuncio in Argentina from 1974 to 1980, a period in which the country's military dictatorship conducted a campaign of torture, killings and disappearances.
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, a human rights group, petitioned the Italian justice ministry in May to prosecute Laghi for his alleged involvement with the dictatorship. The group said he was present at a torture center, decided the fate of some detainees and arranged the expulsion of priests and laypeople working on behalf of the poor.
In a mid-July interview with Il Regno, a Catholic magazine published in Bologna, Laghi said accusations against him seem to come up cyclically, "and every time their absurdity grows."
"Could I have done more? I have asked myself this thousands of times," he said. However, he said, his uneasiness does not mean he feels he offered any support to the dictatorship and even less to the harsh and inhuman acts committed.
"What really happened in Argentina I only learned of when I was no longer there," Laghi said. He became apostolic delegate in the United States in 1980 and served in Washington for 10 years.
Picture caption - Cardinal Laghi