September 19, 2014
Carlotto tackles Church over ‘violence’
Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo leader echoes CFK’s previous criticism of bishops’ letter
The head of the Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo human rights organization Estela Barnes de Carlotto responded strongly yesterday to the Argentine Catholic Church, recalling the silence imposed on members of its hierarchy during the last dictatorship, hours after the Argentine Synod (CEA) issued a document saying Argentina was “sick with violence.”
“This document, which in fact conveys a reality using very dramatic words, bothers us — in the sense that truths can be said without frightening or exacerbating the differences among the Argentine people,” Barnes de Carlotto told Radio Mitre.
The Abuelas de Plaza de Mayo representative also said that Pope Francis — Jorge Bergoglio, who was until recently the archbishop of Buenos Aires City — “would have never said something as strong” as what the CEA had said earlier last week.
She complained about the fact that the Church “did not say a word when the (1976-1983) military dictatorship was kidnapping so many people.”
“And now they’re frightened because there’s violence,” Carlotto said sarcastically.
“Current Church leaders should tell us, where are the kids they stole from us. A lot of Catholic organizations handed them in and know where they are now.”
She then insisted: “Now they’re scared and want to speak up, but they remained silent in the past.”
Human Rights Organizations have long been at loggerheads with the Catholic Church over its role in the dictatorship, with “Chicha” Mariani — one of the founder’s of Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo — demanding that the Vatican hand over baptism files that could reveal the location of several missing grandchildren.
Barnes de Carlotto yesterday lamented “the violence in the world,” and asked that “we all put in some effort to understand and respect one another.”
Her comments come as President Cristina Fernández de Kirchner yesterday questioned the document using a similar argument. She said “when they talk about a violent Argentina, they want to reignite old battles.”
“Violence is in certain sectors, not the entire country,” she added. “The origin of violence is social inequality.”
Interestingly, the open letter published by the bishops coincided with several common tenets from within pro-government circles, including the Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo, like “love conquers hate.”
The letter also criticized the media for exacerbating violence without respecting the pain and suffering of victims and victims’ families, and did not shy away from questioning the economic inequality between social classes in Argentina for playing a role in violence.
“It’s worth opening up our vision and recognizing that violence includes social exclusion, the deprivation of opportunities, hunger and marginalization, precarious forms of labour, the structural poverty of many people, contrasted with the insulting ostentation of wealth by some.”
Barnes de Carlotto is known to often side with the government on social issues.
Yesterday — despite critical voices from within the human rights movement — she praised Pope Francis for “making us proud and permanently sharing messages that we want to hear from the Church.”
She also touched on accusations levelled against him for complicity with the dictatorship, saying “it turns out he hadn’t done any of the things they had said, and in fact he had helped save many lives.