CHILE: THE CHURCH AND HUMAN RIGHTS

Created: 8/13/1975

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are growing indicationa that the Catholic churoh in Chile iatronger stand on human rights Issues. Recent statements by church leaders suggest that they are concerned over the military government's suspected complicity in; the reported deaths and disappearances of Chilean axtremists,of which surfaced in the South American prose in mid-July and subsequently received wide publicity.

The bishop of Santiagoass last week for the familiesersons, mostly members rf the Movement of the Revolutionary Leftho allegedly wera killed or wounded by government forces, or have been reported missing abroad under mysterious circumstances. The mass drew an overflow crowd and tha biahop's sharp words about the need for Chileans to overcome "fear and insecurity" left no doubt among his listeners that he was rapping the junta's handling of the matter.

The Interdenominational Committee for Peace in Santiago believes that stories of leftist deaths in clashes in Argentina were circulated by security forces concerned with accounting for theespecially in viewhen impending visit of the UN Human nights investigating mission, which has since been cancelled. The committee claims that the facts support its thesis thatndividuals had bean detained by the military government and died in custody, and that the bodies were disposed of in Chile. Although the evidence is still circumstantial, accounts of the killings in Argentina couldover for secret executions by Chilean intelligence and security agents. Chile's controlled newspapers claimedumber of Chilean extremists were killed ii. gun battles with Argentine police, and that others were

killedurge by theut no proof he* been offered by either country. Moreover, theretrong possibility that right-wing Argentines under the control of former presidential adviser Lopez Roga collaborated with Chilean intelligence forces to plant false reports on the clashes.

When these reportn first began gainingattention, the peace committeeequest with the Santiago appeals court to investigate the alleged disappearances, but the court refused and the

eeting with Cardinal Raul Silva several weeks ago. President Pinochet pledged that the government would loo', into the case. ^FjbTbbbbbbbbbbjsbbj RfBiffJBJfJjJeBBBBBBBSBi the Cardinal's entreaty did not maxe muenox an impact on Pinochet. Shortly after the meeting, Cardinal Silva gave the first hint that the church was losing patience with tha government when he said he had "told the higheat authorities of my country" that without unity Chile could not have prosperity, peace, or justice. He then appealedrusade for mutual reapoct and tolerance.1

ecent press statement, the Cardinal said he had no objection to publication of the peace committee's findings on the missing extremists, thereby implicitly lta probf. Hm^bhhsbb

Cardinal Silva also authorTzo^orarTeaa^JasTwoTe of the mass offered laat week for the families of thepersons. The church's views were echoed by the Papal Nuncio, who expressed shock and the "disquiet of ambassadors accredited in Santiago" over the fate of the missing Chileans.

While the churchnotngage in open poleraioa with the government, ite sr^kesmen willbe more vocal in airing their misgivings about the government's conduct in dealing with human rights problems. Attention will probably be focused on two prinolpal areast

The apparent failure of officials to satisfactorily the disappearance of presumably detained by security forces.

Continued indications that the regime is not living up to promiaes that it would abide by new national security lawa spelling outagainst illegal detention and torture.

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Unless the Pinochet government takee some remedial action, the church will probably find itself onground with those in thearties and labor who are becoming more criticalhe regime.

SEC

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