Vatican City

Pope tells Argentine grandmothers to 'count on him'

Association says church can help solve Dirty War kidnappings

Pope tells Argentine grandmothers to 'count on him'

Vatican City, April 24 - Pope Francis vowed on Wednesday to the Argentine grandmothers of children kidnapped during the country's Dirty War that he could be "counted on" when they asked for his help to get to the bottom of the disappearances. At a press conference following the meeting after Wednesday's general audience on St Peter's Square with the former archbishop of Buenos Aires, Estela Carlotto, president of the association 'Grandmothers of Plaza de Mayo', said that the two paused at length while holding hands. "We held hands for a long time and the pope recognized me, recalling our previous meeting when he was a cardinal," Carlotto said. Francis, who stopped and spoke for two minutes to Carlotto, ended the conversation by kissing her on the head while the elderly lady handed him a white envelope. "Criticism of the Argentine church, which was partially complicit with the Videla regime responsible for thousands of victims, cannot be cancelled with a hug," Carlotto said. However, the criticism was "constructive and not absolute," she said. While the activist grandmother said that a previous meeting with the pope when he was a cardinal in Buenos Aires did not go the way her association had hoped, Wednesday's "informal meeting that went beyond the usual protocol" was more "satisfying". "We have a lot of hope because he gave us his word, the word of the pope," she said. At the end of their encounter in the crowded square, Pope Francis said to Carlotta, "count on me, I'm available". "This is what we want, that our grandchildren know who their mothers and fathers are. The church, with its registry, can help," Carlotto said.

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