He was in his late teens and still some years away from entering the Jesuit Order. She was in her mid-30s, a revolutionary and a feminist far ahead of her time. They met around 1953 or 1954 in the most unlikely of places - a laboratory where she worked as a pharmaceutical biochemist and he as an apprentice chemical technician. The two could not have been more dissimilar. Yet they cemented a unique friendship that bridged decades as well as deep political and religious chasms.
The woman was Esther Careaga, a non-believer who, because of her Marxist ideals, disappeared under Argentina’s dictatorship in 1977. The man was Jorge Bergoglio, who became Pope Francis in March this year.
Careaga had arrived in Buenos Aires as a political exile from neighbouring Paraguay a few years before meeting Bergoglio. She had been a fiery socialist orator and the founder of Paraguay’s first feminist movement in the 1940s. “She toured the towns in the countryside of Paraguay pleading for people’s rights in general, but especially the rights of women,” says her daughter Ana María Careaga.
Careaga was one of thousands of people who “disappeared” between 1976 and 1983, a bloody spree that stopped only after Argentina entered into a losing war with Britain in 1982 over the Falkland Islands. Victims were taken to secret camps, tortured and thrown from military planes - drugged but still alive - into the South Atlantic Ocean. It was an unsuccessful tactic because sometimes the bodies washed up on shore days later.
More: Tortured and Murdered: The Tragic Story of Pope Francis’ Marxist Feminist Friend
Thanks to VB for posting the tweet with a link to this story.
It’s important to read because even though he has been very orthodox about many things that some would wish for change he has been very different from any other pope since John XXIII and for a very long time before him. This is someone who can remember those who have paid a terrible price for the way things are today and does want to see justice in the world. Perhaps not as we would or as fast as we’d like but he takes a longer view. I’ve argued before that I think Francis is not going to make drastic changes himself but will lay the groundwork for the changes that must happen.
And in the mean time he is the kind of man who will drive his security insane by sneaking out of St. Peter’s wearing only the collar of an anonymous priest to do what things he can to make the lives of the least of us a little better - in other words, trying to actually live like Christ teaches us to. He won’t do it perfectly any more than you or I can. But it is an example worth living in the memory of all those who have been disappeared down the ages whether by the Roman Empire or by the Arginetine Junta.