Materials related to Argentina's dictatorship is expected to be opened in the coming months at Pope Francis' request. CNS photo/Paul Haring

Vatican to open archives on Argentine dictatorship

By  Junno Arocho Esteves, Catholic News Service
  • March 23, 2016

VATICAN CITY - At the request of Pope Francis, material in the Vatican Secret archives relating to Argentina's "Dirty War" is expected to be opened in the coming months, the Vatican spokesman said.

Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, the spokesman, told journalists March 23 that the cataloguing of materials related to Argentina's dictatorship continues to move forward.

"The work goes on regularly and is expected to be completed over the next few months," he said, adding that the timing and conditions under which the material may be studied will be agreed upon with the Argentine bishops' conference.

The Vatican's announcement comes several days after the U.S. government also announced it would move to declassify military and intelligence records from that tumultuous time in Argentina's history. 

Both announcements came in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of the 1976 coup that brought the dictatorship of Jorge Rafael Videla to power. 

At the conclusion of his weekly general audience March 23, the Pope greeted several relatives of people who disappeared during the Argentine dictatorship. 

According to the Buenos Aires Herald, Marie-Noelle Tisseau, whose sister Marie-Anne disappeared in 1976, was among the group who greeted the Pope. The Pope also shook hands with Victor Carvajal, brother of Alberto Carvajal who was abducted by an Argentine death squad in 1977. 

In an interview with Radio America in 2015, Msgr. Guillermo Karcher, an Argentine priest and close aide to Pope Francis, said the archives would shed a light on the forced disappearances of people opposed to the dictatorship in power from 1976 to 1983. 

Estimates of the number of people killed or forcibly disappeared during those years range from about 13,000 to more than 30,000.

Karcher said Pope Francis wanted "something to be done" and that declassifying the Vatican archives would "shed light on many situations that have been left without explanation."

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