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Papal contender rejects rights lawyer's allegation of involvement in kidnappings

[JURIST] A spokesman for Argentinian cardinal Jorge Bergoglio [official Vatican bio; Wikipedia profile], deemed by observers to be one of the leading contenders to succeed Pope John Paul II in the Vatican conclave that begins April 18, said Saturday that allegations of Bergoglio's involvement in the 1976 kidnapping of two Jesuit priests by the military government then in power were groundless and just "old slander". Human rights lawyer Marcelo Parrilli, a founding member of Argentina's activist Center for Legal and Social Studies [advocacy website], made the accusation in court papers filed Friday. It is known that Bergoglio, then the head of the Jesuit order in Argentina, had disagreed with the priests over their activism and later asked them to stop pastoral work and leave the order. After being kidnapped they were freed five months later, and despite his disagreements with them Bergoglio is generally credited with having helped gain their release. One has since died and the other is said to have "good relations" with Bergoglio to this day. Parrilli's accusation has not been tested in court and required only minimal evidence; there has as yet been no formal investigation. AP has more. from Buenos aires, Clarin provides local coverage in Spanish.

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