I was shocked, upon leaving Mass, to pick up a copy of the October 22 Catholic Herald and to find on the front page the heading "The Horrors Facing Priests in Argentina".
It so happens that I am an Argentine and that I was attending this Mass with a group of Argentine friends, recently arrived from Buenos Aires, all of whom are practising Catholics and Argentine patriots.
In my judgment, this article presents a totally distorted picture of the present political situation in Argentina and after reading and analysing it I must say that it is difficult not to conclude that Alex Cosgrave, and the editor of the Catholic Herald, have combined for the purpose of misleading your readers.
The article uses, in my judgment, all the techniques of journalistic distortion which unfortunately the public has had to stiffer over the past years. Firstly, we find the eyecatching front page headline using the provocative word "horrors". which of course already conveys a word picture.
The text of the article catalogues one after another, a series of violent occurrences involving Catholic priests in my country. It gives all of these reports an aura of respectability by making reference to an organisation called the Catholic Institute for International Relations.
The syllogism is clear, if the CI1R believes that certain things have happened in my country therefore it must be proven that they did in fact happen in the manner described.
It is only in the last paragraph of the article, on an inside page, that one finds the statement that the Archbishop of Rosario, one of the largest cities in Argentina, has said that the only alternative to the present government of my country was Marxist domination and "the curtain will close on our land".
Alex Cosgrave has covered herself sufficiently against an attack by being able to say that somewhere in her article she 'did make such a statement, In the practical world we live in we must realise that the positioning of this latter statement in the last paragraph of a rather long article on an inner page of your newspaper, can only be calculated to discourage your readers from finding out the facts. No true Catholic can condone the indiscriminate violence which has occurred in my country for the last few years. This violence has involved cold-blooded, calculating, violent, despicable murder, not of the forces of order alone, but of the average citizen trying to go about his daily affairs.
The responsibility for the vast bulk of this killing lies squarely in the hands of the Marxist. dominated, armed insurrectionary movement, which has existed in Argentina, aided and supported both financiallyand morally from abroad.
_ The overthrow of the Peron government and the overwhelming popular support which the government of General Videla has received from the Argentine public, is a clear indication of the determination of the nation to exterminate this violent attempt to destroy the national fabric.
No true Argentine patriot could have witnessed the systematic sacking of the national treasury and the corruption of the national Christian values with equanimity.
I do not condone the violent murder or assassination of Catholic priests for any reason. This cannot arc the road for any true Christian. However, all of us are aware that when violence and murder is turned loose on any land the consequences are difficult to foresee.
Without in any way excusing any excesses which may have been committed in my country, one can perhaps hope that people abroad will understand that the degree of provocation Which has existed in Argentina over the past few years has reached a level which is almost irresistible.
Indeed, it would appear to me to be the principal role of the Church in my country to try to reduce the level of violence by influencing those who are principally responsible for this violence to lay down their arms and reincorporate themselves into the normal channels of national life.
To the extent that misguided members of the priesthood in Argentina act to stimulate this violence and condone it, they certainly of necessity expose themselves to the current of excesses which unhappily have existed in my country. If the hierarchy, us Alex Cosgrave says, is so closely associated with the government of Argentina, I wonder if one cannot therefore infer that the government of Argentina is doing its utmost to stamp out violence and provide a government which will further the welfare of the vast majority of the Argentine people.
I cannot imagine that the hierarchy would be closely associated with a government that was stimulating and participating in the murder of Catholic priests.
I wonder also if your newspaper would be so kind as to provide its readers with some indication of the make-up of the Catholic Institute for international Relations. It would be interesting to know where this institute obtains its financing and who are the active members of its staff and what their background is. I think it would also be of interest to consider the various causes which this Institute may have been championing in recent months.
In closing this letter, I can only repeat the statement which the Archbishop of Rosario made, that if the present Argentine government were to fall the only alternative is Marxist domination and the clamping down of the iron hand of Communism on my country.
This, the Argentine people are determined to avoid, and with the help of the constitutionally created armed forces of the nation I am confident that we will succeed,
Julio E. Nunez 15 Hyde Park Gardens,