The Argentine Catholic Church announced Tuesday that it will hand over to a judge more than 100 certificates from baptisms performed in a chapel at a navy base that served as a clandestine torture centre during the country’s dictatorship.
Activists hope the information will help determine what happened to children taken from political prisoners at the centre and later illegally adopted, often by military families. Human rights groups say most of the detained biological parents were later killed.
“We firmly believe the Church should make every effort to contribute to the path of memory, truth and justice in all fields, especially given the gravity of the crimes against humanity committed during the years of state terrorism from 1976 to 1983,” the Argentine Episcopal Conference said in a statement.
The bishops said the decision was a response to “a longing of Pope Francis,” the Argentine pontiff who previously promised human rights groups that the church would hand over documentation to help clarify the crimes committed by the military regime.
In total, 127 certificates from baptisms performed between 1975 and 1984 at the chapel in the Navy School of Mechanics will be given to federal judge Sergio Torres, who is handling cases related to the torture centre. About 5,000 dissidents are believed to have been taken there and very few survived. The centre had a clandestine maternity hospital.
The Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo groups says at least 500 children were stolen from their dissident parents and adopted by others. In recent years, 127 of these adopted babies — now adults — have been able to determine who their biological parents were.
The head of the Grandmothers, Estela de Carlotto, met with Francis at the Vatican on two occasions and had asked that the church provide the information.
Human rights groups say about 30,000 dissidents were killed during the dictatorship, while the official figure is about 8,000.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund