AMERICA/ARGENTINA - After 46 years, investigations into the death of Bishop Carlos Ponce de Leon are reopened

Wednesday, 1 March 2023

Rosario (Agenzia Fides) - The Federal Court of Appeal of Rosario overturned a 1978 judgment that caused the death of Bishop Carlos Horacio Ponce de León of San Nicolas classified as the result of a road accident. This allows the investigation into this alleged attack on the bishop to be reopened. The court justified the verdict as follows: "It has been proven that Bishop Ponce de León was the subject of intelligence operations, surveillance and threats by the repressive organs of the civil-military dictatorship that ruled the country".
On July 11, 1977, the Bishop's vehicle was hit by a truck on National Road 9 near the city of Ramallo, on the way to Buenos Aires to visit a seminarian. Recent investigations by experts have shown that the truck that caused the bishop's death stopped moving, and the fractures described at the 1977 autopsy, believed to be related to the accident, were not found on the bishop's body.
Carlos Horacio Ponce de León was born on March 17, 1914 in Buenos Aires. He was ordained a priest on December 17, 1938 and a bishop on June 18, 1966. After serving as auxiliary bishop of Salta, he led the diocese of San Nicolas for 11 years until his accidental death on July 11, 1977. As bishop, he had actively denounced abuses, crimes and human rights violations by the dictatorial regime, including the death of the recently beatified bishop Enrique Angelelli.
Bishop Enrique Angelelli of La Rioja (1923-1976) was one of Argentina's best-known bishops, who also made no secret of his opposition to the dictatorship. He too died on August 4, 1976 in a fake car accident. On July 4, 2014, after 38 years, two senior officials were sentenced to life imprisonment for the assassination of the bishop. For decades, the authorities had also claimed in his case that his death was an accident. In 2015, the diocesan phase of the beatification process was initiated, leading to the recognition of his martyrdom and eventual beatification on April 27, 2019. (SL) (Agenzia Fides, 1/3/2023)