Before a new anniversary of the last coup d’état against a democratic government, the priest and leader of the Argentine church José “Pepe” Di Paola called this Thursday to cry out “never again, Lord, never again!“.
Where the asphalt of Calle 57 ends, one of the entrances to Villa La Cárcova, in the town of José León Suárez, partido de San Martín, stands the Saint John Bosco Parish. From there he has lived his mission for ten years, the village priest.
The day for memory, truth and justice began in the large multi-use hall of the parish with the projection of the program “Ser essencial”, on Public TV, dedicated to crime disguised as an accident suffered by Bishop Carlos Horacio Ponce de León.
“He gave his life for his sheep, the church and Argentina”, explained Father Pepe to start the projection. In the front row was the niece of the martyred monsignor, María Isabel Ponce de León, together with her daughter, plaintiff in the legal case that is taking up a new investigation this year to judge the plot against the bishop.
The general secretary of the Union of Workers of the Popular Economy (UTEP), Esteban “Gringo” Castro, accompanied by various members of the group of lay pilgrims “Missionaries of Francis”; and the secretary of human rights of the General Confederation of Labor (CGT), Julio Piumato; as well as young people from the “great family of the Hogares de Cristo”.
“To take life is to put yourself in the place of God. Something that doesn’t fit. This is how State terrorism acted against thousands of Catholic militants, laymen, religious men, nuns or bishops. All these baptized were part of the faithful people of God and worked for the welfare of the people. This is our church that suffers the violence of its sons and daughters who bear witness and for this they have our prayers.especially the victims of the San Martín party”, affirmed Father Pepe in his homily.
Likewise, Di Paola spent a few minutes explaining the concept of civic-military coupwithout including the ecclesial term as it is claimed in other sectors: “It does not correspond to all the martyrs and detainees of the church during state terrorism”
The village priest evaluated that following the logic of imputing the entire church would imply adding other factors of power: “sports, because the dictatorship occurred in the middle of a soccer world cup, business, judicial and even the press, because the media were silent”.
Besides, He asked to continue building the community to face the violence of these times.
During the Eucharistic celebration there were some baptisms of children of the village and for the end the parish priest asked the leaders to dedicate a few words from the altar.
“It is a moment to deepen discernment for the compañeros and compañeras who gave their lives for the cause of the people and what we must do going forward. There is a growing process of reduction of employment, of labor rights, in our country and we must deepen the process of unity, because that disunity also helped to install the dictatorship. We have to deepen the unity of the popular militants and the unity of the people of God for the good of our children and grandchildren”, Castro developed.
For his part, Piumato maintained that “this is a tribute to the victims of state terrorism in San Martín, to Bishop Angelelli, to Monsignor Ponce de León, and to many who are not yet known by their community.”
“It is already known that it was a murder and now we want the trial for those responsible,” he said about the crime of Ponce de León, for whom “For a long time we have been fighting in justice so that the cause is not buried and comes to light.”
In addition, he stressed that the people and the church resisted the dictatorship, “beyond some characters”, and detailed: “I had to be imprisoned and I spent a lot of time with detained priests, like Troncoso who served in the Rafaela Cathedral , with priests from Buenos Aires, Mendoza, Misiones and Chaco. I was with many. Who were, if one can say lucky, to preserve life that others could not. These tributes are good because they revive memory”.
Then He highlighted the labor movement “for its great task of resistance” Hence, most of the disappeared are of union origin, and Piumato added to “the Mothers of Plaza de Mayo who, due to their strength and courage, became a symbol of love in the face of so much barbarity, risked themselves, and the church gave containment. Because of them, some were kidnapped in the Santa Cruz Church, in the heart of the San Cristóbal neighborhood of the Federal Capital.”
Together with the Catholic militants of his union, the judicial workers of the Nation (UEJN), Piumato prepared a brochure for those present and a plaque in tribute to the disappeared.
At the end of the mass, the plaque was unveiled on the wall of the parish with the motto: “For the religious and popular Christian militants of San Martín detained and disappeared during the civic-military coup”.
All those present left with a pamphlet citing the letters of the Argentine bishops to the military junta.
Parallel to the legendary letter from journalist Rodolfo Walsh, on March 17, 1977, the church hierarchy sent a reserved letter to military leaders and another public letter on May 7.
“It is the priests, in immediate contact with their faithful people… who feel in all its intensity this bewildered crying of so many families who do not know, in many cases, if their relative lives or is dead, they do not know or even suspect that he could being accused, live the excruciating perplexity of not having a refuge to turn to”is the paragraph that most moved the village priest and host of the tribute with deep spirituality.