CONICET: recovers files corresponding to the Movement of Priests for the Third World


Researchers, trainees, and helping personnel from the Institute of Geography, History and Social Sciences (IGEHCS, CONICET-UNCPBA), part of the National Scientific and Technical
Research Council  Argentina- CONICET Tandil, recovered a significant documental, bibliographic, and hemerographic acquis about the Movement of Priests for the Third World (MSTM). It consists of two documental funds belonging to the priests José María Serra from Santa Fe and Domingo Bresci from Buenos Aires. Both funds bring unpublished material from the years between 1967 and 1976.

The efforts made by the institute will let the categorization, digitalization, and later free access to the documental funds both to researchers and to the community at large. The materials were transported from the cities of Santa Fe and Buenos Aires, after a transfer agreement between their owners and the IGEHCS and will stay on the Institute of Socio-Historical Studies’ facility “Prof. Juan Carlos Grosso” (IEHS, FCH, UNCPBA), center of the previously mentioned Executive Unit’s research.

In the case of the funds, they consist of fifteen boxes with unpublished material: correspondence, newsletters, pamphlets, and publication drafts, stemming from the different regions in which the movement existed. The record is also completed with around 1500 books and newspapers published by christian and farmer groups, and political movements from many Latin American countries. The highlights are those linked to the experiences of literacy and evangelism in farmers’ and neighbour communities, as well as those linked to the revolutionary and insurrectionary processes in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Cuba.

The material archive allows us to understand the process of formation of the movement, as well as the functioning and religious and political articulations that were established. Some theological debates stand out, together with pastoral definitions and discussions linked to the transformations catholicism went through in that period. Similarly, it is possible to know the links with argentinian and latin american christian groups and circles from the 60s and 70s, such as Christianity and Revolution, Catholic Action’s Rural Movement, the Agrarian Leagues or the groups that later formed the Rural Communities in Popular Media (Argentina), Christians for SOcialism (Chile), Golconda Group (Colombia), or the Onis Sacerdotal Movement (Peru).

Likewise, the reading of the recovered material puts the spotlight on the MTSTM as a sector that resisted the dictatorship of the “Argentine Revolution” that ruled over the country between 1966 and 1973. It is possible to find here discussions, tensions and subgroups formed inside of it against the political definitions that drove it to a majority position in favour of peronism and fighting for the return of Juan Domingo Perón in 1972.

One of the recurring themes on the documents is the persecution and delegitimization the Movement suffered from the Intelligence Services and the Military during the Argentine Revolution, headed by the dictators Juan Carlos Onganía, Roberto Levingston, andAlejandro Lanusse. The imprisonment of priests and laymen generated strategies and joint actions to face against the dictatorial repression. The murder of the priest Carlos Mugica by the Triple A on May of 1974 inaugurated a cycle of persecution and repressive escalation taht culminated with the incarceration, disappearance, and/or forced exiles of priests and christians.

The recovery of files and documents of this kind is of big importance for the production of historical knowledge, and it’s why in the IGEHCS foresees articulation with other universities and CONICET institutes that possess similar archives, for the forming of webs and spaces of discussions and investigation about these themes.

Source: IGEHCS

Translation: Massimiliano Tron, Freelance Translator. To contact him:

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