"Retired commander Adolfo Francisco Scilingo said that the military sought approval for the death flights from high members of the Argentine Roman Catholic Church, who condoned them as a "Christian way of death."
Military chaplains comforted officers disturbed by their gruesome mission, and reassured them they were doing their duty, ........"
Reuter - 08 MARCH 1995
By Jason Webb BUENOS AIRES, Argentina
Argentine human rights group Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo rejected Wednesday a Catholic Church condemnation of the murder of political prisoners, saying priests collaborated with the juntas. Speaking on behalf of Catholic bishops, Monsignor Emilio Bianchi de Carcano said Tuesday that no Christian could condone murders committed by Argentina's former military rulers, and denied they had ever been consulted over "death flights."
His declarations followed the chilling confession published last week of a retired naval officer, who described how thousands of political prisoners were thrown alive from aircraft over the Atlantic Ocean during the "dirty war" in the 1970s. "We are able to affirm, to assure with complete certitude, that the episcopacy was never consulted about such a way of killing people or anything like that," Bianchi de Carcano told reporters.
But Hebe de Bonafini, who heads Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo, said high members of the church heirarchy knew what was going on and sympathized with the military's conservative aims. "The Church has a great responsibility in everything that happened. Because the Church knew that the (military) chaplains were paid salaries of investigating judges to participate and act in the jails extracting confessions from the prisoners," de Bonafini told Reuters.
The Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo Tuesday went to the Buenos Aires headquarters of the Roman Catholic Church asking for the condemnation and expulsion priests who colaborated with the military dictatorship.
Retired commander Adolfo Francisco Scilingo said that the military sought approval for the death flights from high members of the Argentine Roman Catholic Church, who condoned them as a "Christian way of death."
Military chaplains comforted officers disturbed by their gruesome mission, and reassured them they were doing their duty, Scilingo said. While Scilingo was confessing to a journalist in February, President Carlos Menem ordered he be stripped of his rank for a fraud conviction confirmed almost exactly three years earlier. Menem, who was himself imprisoned by the military, pardoned officers for human rights abuses and has attacked Scilingo as a "criminal" intent on reopening old wounds. Some 4,000 were killed and 9,000 disappeared without trace during the "dirty war" the military waged against leftist guerillas in the late 1970s. Bianchi de Carcano said the bishops wrote to the military rulers asking for information about the fate of political prisoners. The generals never gave a clear reply, he said.