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Pope Francis about the persecuted Hungarian jesuit

Ferenc Jálics

On the second day of the Pope's apostolic journey in Hungary, Pope Francis met with Jesuits. One of the questions concerned the persecuted Argentine Jesuits, including Father Francis Jálics, who was a spiritual director of Bergoglio in the past.

On the second day of teh apostolic journey of Francis Pope in Hungary, Pope Francis met with Jesuits of the country on April 29, 2023. At the nunciature 32 Jesuits, led by provincial superior Attila András, who managed the conversation. One of the questions concerned the persecuted Argentine Jesuits, including Father Francis Jalics, who was a spiritual director of Bergoglio in the past.

“What was your relationship with Father Francisco Jalics like? What happened? As a provincial superior, how did you experience that tragic situation? You were accused of serious charges.”

„Father Ferenc Jalics and Father Orlando Yorio worked in a poor neighborhood, and they worked well. Jalics was my spiritual director and confessor in my first and second year of theology studies. In the neighborhood where he worked, there was a guerrilla cell. But the two Jesuits had nothing to do with them: they were pastors, not politicians. They were innocently imprisoned. They found nothing they could charge them with, yet they had to spend nine months in prison, between threats and torture. Then they were released, but what happened left deep wounds in them. Jalics immediately visited me, and we talked about things. I advised him to go to his mother in the United States. The situation was indeed too complicated and uncertain. Then the rumor spread that I was the one who put them in prison. It’s worth noting that a month ago, the Argentine Bishops’ Conference had already published two volumes of the planned three volumes that contain all the documents related to what happened between the church and the military. You can find everything in there.

But returning to the events I told you about. When the military left, Jalics asked me for permission to come to Argentina to lead a retreat. I helped him come, and we even celebrated Mass together. Then I saw him again as a bishop, and then as a pope: he came to visit me in Rome. We always had this connection between us. But when he came to see me in the Vatican for the last time, I saw that he was suffering because he didn’t know how to talk to me. There was a distance between us. The wounds of those old years remained in both of us, as we both experienced that persecution.

Some in the government “wanted to cut off my head,” and not so much because of the difficulties with Jalics, but because they questioned my behavior throughout the dictatorship. So I was summoned to court. I could choose where to have the hearing. I chose the bishop’s office. It lasted four hours and ten minutes. One of the judges kept questioning my role. I always answered honestly. From my point of view, the only serious, well-founded, and well-formulated question was posed by my lawyer, who belonged to the communist party. Thanks to this question, things were clarified. My innocence was proven. But in that trial, almost nothing was said about Jalics’ case, but about other cases of people seeking help.

Then I met two of the judges again here in Rome, as a pope. One was with an Argentine group. I didn’t recognize him, but I had the impression that I had seen him before. I looked and looked at him. I said to myself, “I know him from somewhere.” He hugged me and left. Then I realized who he was. We talked for a long time about what happened.”


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