Clarifying previous comments, a priest who was kidnapped during Argentina’s dictatorship in the 1970s is emphasizing that Pope Francis was not responsible for his detainment.
In a statement published on the official website of the Jesuit order in Germany, Father Francisco Jalics said that while he once believed his 1976 kidnapping was due to a denunciation by then-Father Bergoglio, he realized some 20 years ago that this belief was incorrect.
Following the election of Cardinal Jorge Bergoglio to the papacy on March 13, several media reports attempted to connect the new Pontiff to the Argentine dictatorship of Rafael Videla. At the time of the dictatorship, Father Bergoglio had been provincial of the Jesuits in Argentina.
Father Jalics — who is now retired in Germany — issued a statement sending his best wishes to the new Pope and offering assurances that the two are on good terms.
The 86-year-old priest said that his earlier statements were misinterpreted by the media. He adamantly denied that then-Father Bergoglio played any role in causing his five year-long captivity alongside another priest, Father Orlando Yorio, who died in 2000.
“Since my statement on March 15 of this year, I have received many questions, so I would like to add the following. I almost feel obliged to do so, because some commentaries contradict what I wanted to say,” Father Jalics said.
“These are the facts: Neither I nor Orlando Yorio were denounced by Father Bergoglio.”
“As I made clear in my previous statement, we were arrested because of a catechist who worked with us first and later joined the guerillas,” he explained.
“For nine months we never saw her again, but two or three days after she was detained, we were detained as well,” he continued. “The official who interrogated me asked for my papers. When he saw that I was born in Budapest, he thought I was a Russian spy.”
“In the Argentinean Jesuit congregation and in Catholic circles, false information spread in the years prior that claimed we had moved to the poor barrios because we belonged to the guerillas. But that was not the case. I suppose these rumors were motivated by the fact that we were not immediately released,” Father Jalics said.
“I was once inclined to think that we were the victims of a betrayal. But at the end of the 1990s, I realized after many conversations that this assumption was baseless,” the priest explained.
“For this reason, it is wrong to assert that our capture happened because of Father Bergoglio,” he declared.