Vatican spokesman rebuffs criticism of Pope Francis
Vatican City, March 16 : The Vatican has strongly denied criticism by some people in Argentina that Pope Francis failed to challenge the country's 1976-1983 military dictatorship during its "dirty war" against leftist opponents.
The accusations "must be clearly and firmly denied", said Vatican spokesman Federico Lombardi.
"They reveal anti-clerical left-wing elements that are used to attack the Church."
Critics of Francis, earlier Cardinal Jorge Martio Bergoglio, the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, allege that he failed to protect priests who opposed the military and that he has said too little about the wider Church's support for the dictatorship.
The allegations centre around the time Bergoglio headed the Jesuit order in Argentina from 1973-1979.
Two priests kidnapped by the military government alleged that Bergoglio did not protect them, paving the way for their abduction in 1976 by the Argentine military, and torture during six months in detention.
Bergoglio has called the allegations against him "slanderous" and claims on the contrary that he moved behind the scenes to save the lives of the two priests and others that he secretly hid from the death squads.