The executive committee of the Bishops’ Conference of Argentina issued a document this week entitled, “Remembering the past in order to wisely build the present,” which points out that for the good of democracy, the Argentine dictatorship which began on March 24, 1976, should not be forgotten.

“The memory of a people,” the statement says, “is nourished by innumerable events that mark its history.  Some should be celebrated, such as fruitful events that strengthen society.  Others, although they cause pain and sadness, should not be silenced.”

“We Argentineans look back and recall the break with our democratic system of March 24, 1976,” the message continues.  “This event, which took place in the context of great institutional fragility and was consented to by the leadership of that time, had grave consequences which left a negative mark on the daily life of our nation.”

The bishops ask: “What sense does it make to remember such a painful anniversary? With what kind of a spirit shall we recall it?”

“These events of the past,” they note, “which speak to us of enormous attacks against life and human dignity, and of the scorn for law and for institutions, are an appropriate occasion for Argentineans to repent yet again of our errors and learn from the past as we move forward in the present.”

“As Christians, when we enter into to our past, we do so to purify it and to turn it into a source of wisdom, reconciliation and hope,” the bishops added.

“It should be this spirit of reconciliation that animates us in the present, leading us away from both impunity, which weakens the value of justice, and anger and resentment, which can divide us and lead to confrontation.”  

“A fruitful look at the past,” the statement notes, “should help us all to grow in our dignity as children of God and to responsibly commit ourselves to the building up of our country as brothers and sisters.”

“May our faith in God, who is Father of all, strengthen and enlighten us on this path that we are called to take together,” the statement concludes.