IF the military bishops had been more severe in their criticisms of the Argentinian junta, more lives might have been saved in the period of the "dirty war", Bishop Miguel Hesayne of Viedma, southern Argentina, told his congregation last week.
His remarks came as the trial of Argentina's former military rulers continued. They stand accused of murdering more than 30,000 people during the nine years of their rule.
If the trial is not carried out in a spirit of vengeance or mercilessness, but rather as a way of spreading God's truth, justice will be served, the bishop said.
Bishop Hesayne was one of the few prominent Argentinian clerics to take a stance on human rights abuse during the military
dictatorship. Commenting on church attitudes in that period, the bishop conceded that the hierarchy had not been coherent in what they said.
He quoted the example of allowing the then President, General Jorge Videla, the privilege of saying a prayer to Our Lady at the closure of the Marian congress held in Mendoza in 1981.
The junta's over-riding doctrine of national security was antithetical to Catholic teaching, Bishop Hesayne said.
There is a debate in Argentina at the moment as to whether the end of the trial should mark the end of a dark era in the country's history, or if the search for the guilty should continue.