Estela de Carlotto — subject of a film that was awarded the SIGNIS-WACC Human Rights Award — on 24 April met Pope Francis and urged him to open the Vatican Archives covering the period from 1976 to 1983 in order to trace victims of Argentina's military rule.
De Carlotto leads a group called Grandmothers of the Plaza de Mayo (referring to a protest site in Buenos Aires) and they say they are trying to track hundreds of babies that were taken from political prisoners, according to reports on the BBC and other media.
De Carlotto has said the Church must know where some of the children were taken. She met the Pope during a general audience at the Vatican, and handed him a letter asking for the archives to be open. They smiled and clasped hands before the pontiff ended the conversation by kissing her on the head, according to the Buenos Aires Herald.
She told reporters that Francis had told her: “'You can count on me. You can count on us.'”.
Last year, then-archbishop of Buenos Aires Jorge Mario Bergoglio (now Pope Francis) directed Argentina's bishops to apologize collectively for the Church's failures to protect people during the dictatorship.
The "Grandmothers" estimate that up to 500 children were taken and given to families who supported the regime.
De Carlotto was the subject of the film “Verdades verdaderas” ("Real Truth"), winner of the 2011 SIGNIS-WACC Human Rights Award.