AUGUST 15, 1997

Page 9

'Nazi gold' memo

The U.S. government must avoid becoming "party to an unjustified attack" on the Vatican by giving undue credibility to charges that the Vatican was a depository for Nazi gold, the U.S. ambassador to the Vatican said.

Ambassador Raymond L. Flynn wrote to President Bill Clinton in late July saying, "The available evidence for Vatican guilt is extremely weak."

Flynn wrote to Clinton July 24, a few days after researchers for the U.S. cable television network A&E announced they had found a 1946 U.S. Treasury Department memo claiming the Vatican was used as a depository for cash and gold coins from members of the puppet government established by the Nazis in Croatia.

The Vatican said the report had "no basis in reality." After a meeting with Vatican officials, Flynn highlighted three points about the charges contained in the recently declassified document:

- "Of 15 million pages of documents at the National Archives related to Nazi gold, so far only one mentions the Vatican.

- "This single document's claims of Vatican involvement are vague, lacking details of when, where, how and who.

- "The letter's claims are based on an anonymous 'reliable source in Italy' and on 'rumor.'"

Flynn told the president that with just the one memo, the case against the Vatican is "rather thin and, while sensational, does not warrant a rush to judgment."

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