ROME — The Vatican vigorously defended Pope Francis on Friday by seeking to discredit accusations that he failed to oppose and may even have collaborated with Argentina’s feared military junta during the so-called “dirty war” against left-wing activists.
The Vatican spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi, departed from his recent good cheer since the pope’s election to excoriate the criticisms in the press. He called the accusations against the former Jorge Mario Bergoglio, who served as a Jesuit provincial superior and then archbishop of Buenos Aires, stale and the work of “anti-clerical left-wing elements to attack the church [that] must be decisively rejected.”
Lombardi framed the criticism as part of a “campaign that’s often slanderous and defamatory.”
The reception of Francis in Rome and beyond has been generally positive, and his simple style and reputation for modesty have been seen as a breath of fresh air in what many consider the stultified atmosphere of the Vatican recently.