Former fugtive speaks on Pope’s role in escape

Future Pope Francis risked his own wellbeing

A former member of a banned leftist group in Uruguay has spoken of how the future Pope Francis risked his own wellbeing to spirit him to safety during Argentina’s Dirty War.

In an interview with the Associated Press, Gonzalo Mosca related how, when he faced possible execution in his native Uruguay in 1976, he asked his brother, a Jesuit priest for help in fleeing the country and, once in Argentina, was put in touch with a Jesuit named Jorge Bergoglio.

The future Pontiff arranged to escort the wanted man to a seminary in San Miguel, and instructed him on how to behave if stopped by troops.

“He gave me instructions: ‘If they stop us, tell them you’re going to a spiritual retreat,’ and ‘Try to keep yourself a bit hidden,’” Mosca said.

Keenly aware himself of the dangers faced by the priest in assisting a wanted activist, Mosca added: “He made me wonder if he really understood the trouble he was getting into. If they grabbed us together, they would have marched us both off…He did not hesitate in risking everything for my cause. He didn’t know me.”

The pair eventually reached the safety of the San Miguel seminary, from where Mosca was able to travel on to safety in Brazil, courtesy of a plane ticket provided by Fr Bergoglio.

Details of the Pope’s activities on behalf of fugitives in Argentina continue to emerge, while a book detailing some escapes, Bergoglio’s List, by Vatican reporter Nello Scavo, is being adapted for the big screen.