Vatican and Argentina’s bishops have finished cataloguing their archives from the country’s dictatorship era, and will soon make them available to victims and their relatives who have long accused the church of complicity with the military rulers. For now is restricted to victims, detainees, their relatives and the religious superiors of victims who were priests or nuns.
About 13,000 people were killed or disappeared in a government-sponsored crackdown on leftist dissidents during Argentina’s 1976-1983 dictatorship. Human rights activists believe the real number was as high as 30,000.
It was at the express direction of Pope Francis to open the church’s archives, “in the service of truth, justice and peace.”
Human rights groups have accused senior clerics, who were close to Argentina’s military rulers at the time, of complicity with the regime.
Activists say the church has yet to fully apologize for its human rights record, identify those responsible for the many violations the church knew about at the time, or lead Argentina’s justice system to bodies and to people who were stolen as babies from their birth families. Francis has said that when he ran Argentina’s bishops conference in the 1990s, no such evidence existed in church files.
The Vatican usually waits 70 years after the end of a pontificate to open its archives.