AUGUST 1, 1997


Laghi refutes accusations

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."

Picture caption - Cardinal Laghi