[I can't find the first page of this article. Following begins on page 10]

From.................. National Catholic Reporter

28 April, 1989 ............. "FEATURE" article.

By- [the late] Penny Lernoux [author of People of God ]

Pictures of- Cardinal Bernardin, Senator Dole, Archbishop Hunthausen, Papal Nuncio Laghi, German Cardinal Hoffner, and former ambassador to the Vatican, Bill Wilson.

caption by picture of Hunthausen- "Since the FBI sometimes shares information with the CIA, it is not impossible that the data on Hunthausen were passed on to the Vatican.

caption by picture of Wilson- "Vatican insiders said Wilson's appointment was primarily a "feather in the cap" of a man who was less interested in diplomacy than in business

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............... port. Similarly, the curia's initial response to Hurley's report that Father Smangaliso Mkhatshwa, secretary general of the bishops' conference, had been brutally tortured while in detention was, according to informed church sources in Rome, that the Vatican could not take Hurley's word for it and that he was probably exaggerating. Ten days later, when there could be no doubt that Mkhatshwa had been tortured, because the South African supreme court admitted as much, Rome sent a cable of protest.

The South African government could also discredit the bishops by pointing to funding from the Vatican Bank as a sign of papal support. From September 1982 through mid-1985, for example, the Vatican Bank participated in eight bond issues totaling $251.9 million for three South African government entities - the city of Johannesburg, the Department of Post and Telecommunications and the South African Transport Services. The bonds were "irrevocably and unconditionally guaranteed by the Republic of South Africa."

No U.S. institution was involved in the bond issues, the U.S. banks having decided not to underwrite additional South African financing, because of protests in the United States against apartheid. The Vatican Bank, under no such constraints, joined the scheme through its subsidiary, the Banco di Roma per la Svizzera. Internal correspondence between the curia and the Banco di Roma's board of directors showed that neither thought there was anything morally wrong with the bond participation, since the sums involved were "modest amounts."


Moscow, for its part, viewed the Polish pope with considerable apprehension, since he wielded enormous power in its most obstreperous satellite and had shown that he could cause Catholic unrest elsewhere in the empire, as in the Ukraine. Stalin had sneered at Catholicism's importance - "How many divisions has the pope?" - but his successors in the Kremlin were much less inclined to dismiss John Paul.

[see ........ HIS HOLINESS by Bernstein, .... pub by Doubleday 1996 .... JP ]

Gradually, therefore, a tenuous relationship developed between Rome and Moscow, based on a pragmatic trade-off of political favors for religious ones. On the issue of U.S. economic sanctions against Poland, for example, the pope supported an agreement between Poland's strongman Wojciech Jaruzelski and Cardinal Josef Glemp to work for their elimination.

In February 1987, a month after a "historic" meeting between Jaruzelski and the pope to discuss such problems, President Reagan lifted the sanctions. Although some political prisoners had been released, the situation in Poland hardly warranted Reagan's claim that "the light of liberty shines in Poland." The change in policy therefore had to be attributed to other factors, including pressures by the pope.

Washington could afford the gesture, and if it made the pope happy, so much the better, since his hostility toward the Sandinistas was a help to Washington. Although John Paul had his own religious reasons for opposing the Sandinista revolution, Rome and Washington agreed on several vital areas.

One was that Nicaragua was setting a bad example for the rest of Latin America.

Not only had the Nicaraguans thrown off the gringos' yoke; they were also refusing to take orders from Rome. The specter of religion-fueled rebellion worried both power centers, which saw liberation theology as the wedge for Marxist revolution.

In fact, most of the region's liberation theologies were not Marxist, but having always dismissed Latin America as a cultural backwater, neither Washington nor Rome was inclined to waste time trying to distinguish one variety of theology from another.

One had only to look at Nicaragua, said officials of the State Department and the curia, to know what could happen elsewhere in Latin America. Consequently, Nicaragua's "popular church" became synonymous with liberation theology, despite the objections of Gustavo Gutierrez, the Peruvian father of liberation theology, and other leading theologians.

John Paul's feelings about communism were fed by the German bishops, who, even before Wojtyla's ascension, had been fulminating against the "socialist" tendencies of some churches in South America. The Germans preferred right-wing governments that were strongly anticommunist and pro-capitalist, even though such regimes frequently persecuted local Catholic churches.

Unable to understand that capitalism had produced one standard of living in Germany but quite another in Latin America, they were horrified when some South American bishops, most notably the Peruvian and Brazilian hierarchies, denounced the voraciousness of foreign capitalism.

Liberation theology and the Christian base communities were blamed for such radicalism, although the communities were only seeking the same basic rights that were taken for granted in Germany. The German-Polish alliance in the Vatican interpreted protests against right-wing regimes and their foreign multinational allies as proof of Marxist tendencies among the churches. Washington could not have agreed more. So this became a second area of agreement, not only in Latin America but in other parts of the Third World, such as the Philippines, where both Washington and Rome supported the Marcos dictatorship to the bitter end.

[downplaying that the decision makers in "Washington" were all either Roman Catholic or highly RC influenced ......... JP ]

"The Vatican's viewpoint," said an American bishop, "is essentially compatible with Reagan's outlook."

[To be expected, since Reagan served the pope ........ JP ]

Nobel laureate Gabriel Garcia Marquez agreed. John Paul has a "certain mind-set" that blocked his understanding of situations that did not fit into the East-West mold, he said after a private audience with the pope.

Highly placed church officials confirmed that it was sometimes difficult to "get through" to John Paul.

According to one cardinal present at a meeting to prepare for the 1985 synod, John Paul opened the discussion by telling Chicago's Cardinal Joseph Bernardin that he did not understand why the U.S. hierarchy was sending bishops to visit Cuba and Nicaragua or why the bishops did not "support your own president's policies in Central America."

After hearing this salvo, said the prelate, Sin, who was then deeply involved in the rising opposition to Ferdinand Marcos, rolled up his eyes as if to say, "Now we have to run our churches to please Reagan."

[the truth this publication seeks to deny, is that Reagan served Vatican interest, not the other way around ........ JP ]

The discussion ended, said the cardinal, after Bernardin made a reasoned reply, explaining the U.S. bishops' position against the contra war. No more was heard on the subject for the rest of the meeting.

During the same period, John Paul met with Senator Robert Dole [R-Kan.], who visited the pontiff on behalf of President Reagan to obtain the pope's views on Central America. Dole gave the pope a letter from Reagan outlining Washington's strategy on Nicaragua; a second letter from the president on the same subject was delivered by the U.S. embassy in Rome.

Because of a Vatican "gaffe," as a curia official called it, Rome's response to the two letters on Nicaragua was, "It's good," possibly because Reagan had emphasized a diplomatic solution without mentioning the threat of military reprisals. In any case, Reagan interpreted the message as providing papal support for his Central American policies - a support that apparently did exist in view of John Paul's challenge to Bernardin. But the president spoiled things by blurting out that message to participants at a State Department conference on religion. They immediately relayed it to the press, prompting a Vatican denial that the pope had given any endorsement of a "concrete plan" for Central America.

The denial, made by the Vatican's ambassador to Washington, Archbishop Pio Laghi, could be interpreted in light of Laghi's subsequent statements in which he admitted a "parallelism in viewpoints" of the Vatican and Washington but insisted that there were no specific arrangements between Reagan and the pope.

William Wilson, Reagan's first ambassador to the Vatican, used Laghi's very words to describe such common concerns as liberation theology, Nicaragua, Poland, the Middle East and U.S. - Soviet tensions - subjects he had an opportunity to discuss with the pope and other high-ranking Vatican officials.

Much of the curia's information comes from like-minded hard-liners in other countries, and these bishops are often sympathetic to, or members of, the wealthy elites that dominate business and politics. Such was the case in Brazil, where European multinationals, including Germany's Volkswagen, were locked in a struggle with progressive bishops over land ownership in the Amazon.

From Germany came complaints by important lay leaders, government officials and bishops; in Brazil, similar charges were made by conservative Brazilian churchmen, who had important sponsors in the curia, such as Cardinal Agnelo Rossi, the Brazilian dean of the College of Cardinals. The complaints did not deal with the real issue [that is, that a given multinational was in trouble with a bishop for its treatment of impoverished peasants], but implied that the bishop was a Marxist sympathizer, involved in politics and/or poisoning the minds of the faithful with theological and liturgical innovations. The underlying boast of such groups was that, unlike their opponents, they were loyal to the pope.

Critics of this sort had been around in the United States prior to the 1980s, but when Reagan came to power they were aided by quasi-government religious organizations that had their own lines to the Vatican. The Institute on Religion and Democracy, for example, had access to the Holy See through its most prominent Catholic member, social critic Michael Novak. The institute was an early champion of Cardinal Obando y Bravo, and it cultivated Nicaraguan defectors who had an entree to the Vatican, such as Humberto Belli, a protege of Obando who worked in a Vatican secretariat and later became an important anti-Sandinista propagandist in the United States.

These private and semiprivate groups continually fed information into the Vatican from Central America and the United States at the same time that U.S. officials in Rome were providing their appraisals of people and events. The flow of information became livelier and more direct after the United States reestablished relations with the Vatican in 1984, thereby opening official channels of communication.

How much of it the curia swallowed was impossible to say - Vatican officials claimed to distrust all such intelligence. But since the pope had no sympathy for the Sandinistas, it could be assumed that they listened, using any allegations that advanced the Vatican's own particular interests.

[ In light of the following, for some who may not know, ......the "curia" constitutes the highest level of "Vatican officials" .... JP ]

U.S. officials have maintained a close relationship with the curia since World War II, when the CIA's predecessor, the Office of Strategic Services [OSS], worked with the Vatican. After the war, the CIA created a special unit to tap into the Vatican's rich lode of information, and it cooperated with the curia in helping Nazi criminals find refuge, primarily in Latin America.

During the crucial 1948 elections in Italy, when the Communist party seemed likely to win power, the CIA worked closely with Vatican agencies to secure the victory of the Christian Democrats. State Department documents showed continuing CIA interest in Vatican affairs in the 1960s and 1970s, including reports revealing U.S. pressure on Paul Vl to support President Nguyen Van Thieu in South Vietnam.

[ Vatican pressured USA to be in Vietnam in the first place to support Vietnam's Roman Catholic ruling class. Thieu was a RC ........ JP ]

[this RC publication wants the reader to think that wicked USA makes innocent weak Vatican go along with policy that furthers American interest. Really, high level papal servants see to it that American policy supports the Vatican interest/agenda. ........ JP ]

The thrust of the reports was that the pope was an important ally who had the means to influence world affairs.

The extent to which the CIA cooperated with John Paul's papacy in providing information was unknown, but one ambassador to the Vatican with long experience in Rome was convinced that the CIA supplied the curia with background data on diplomats accredited to the Vatican, particularly those representing leftist governments, such as Nicaragua. The FBI's spying on Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen at least suggested links to subsequent Vatican disciplining of the Seattle prelate.

Using the Freedom of Information Act, the National Catholic Reporter obtained FBI documentation that showed the agency had been keeping files on Hunthausen and Detroit's Auxiliary Bishop Thomas Gumbleton because of their antiwar activities. The FBI withheld six pages of information on Hunthausen on the ground that the material had originated at another unnamed agency, possibly U.S. Naval Intelligence, which had also kept files on Hunthausen, or the CIA.

Although the Gumbleton files dealt with his campaigns against the Vietnam war and racial inequalities during the late 1960s and early 1970s, the Hunthausen documents showed that he had been an object of surveillance through 1983 - the same period when the American bishops were preparing their controversial peace pastoral on nuclear war. Representative Don Edwards [D-Calif.], chairman of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Civil and Constitutional Rights, told the Reporter that the investigation of the bishops "Fits right into" a pattern of harassment of critics of the administration's foreign policy, citing nearly 60 cases of suspicious break-ins of offices belonging to groups opposed to Washington's Central American policy, including churches.

Since the FBI sometimes shares information with the CIA, it is not impossible that the data on Hunthausen was passed on to the Vatican. Hunthausen had been particularly outspoken in his opposition to the arms race, and he and Gumbleton had played key roles in persuading the U.S. bishops to write the letter on nuclear warfare.

A stream of important U.S. officials had visited the Vatican in the same period, including President Reagan, Vice President George Bush, Secretary of State George Shultz, Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, and Reagan's roving ambassador, General Vernon Walters [Ret.], all of whom may have complained about the bishops" peace stance, although William Wilson, Reagan's first ambassador to the Vatican, insisted that they did not mention the letter.

Meanwhile, the German bishops, led by Cardinal Joseph Hoffner of Cologne, had denounced the American bishops for their position on nuclear deterrence. After Hoffner's meetings with the French bishops, they, too, joined the chorus. Back in the United States, Republican activist Paul Weyrich and his New Right followers among Catholic fundamentalists, including the archconservative weekly the Wanderer, flooded the Vatican with criticisms of Hunthausen.

As in Brazil, where tensions between the local church and the papacy were basically about politics, the attack on Hunthausen was not direct, allegations about religious sins serving as a smoke screen for the real attack. Hunthausen needed to be disciplined, it was said, because there was too much democracy in his archdiocese and he had sanctioned all manner of liturgical innovations. But since many other dioceses in the United States were guilty of the same practices, there was no convincing reason for Hunthausen to be singled out, except for his antiwar activism.

Archbishop Pio Laghi, Rome's ambassador to Washington, later confirmed that Hunthausen's refusal to pay taxes for defense and his protests against nuclear weapons had been the subject of many of the complaints. Nevertheless, he insisted that "at no time did the Holy See pursue with Archbishop Hunthausen the criticisms it received." Discussions, he said, were solely about doctrinal and pastoral matters, and Hunthausen agreed that it was so.

Still, there is more than one way to skin a cat. By punishing Hunthausen, Rome sent a warning to the U.S. bishops to pay more attention to spiritual matters and less to political ones, and at the same time gave some of its more important allies, especially in Germany and the United States, symbolic support in the controversy over the arms race.

The pope made a similar point on his visit to the United States in 1987 by ignoring the bishops' letter on nuclear warfare despite its ongoing importance. Edward L. Rowny, White House adviser on arms control, could thus state that the Reagan administration's defense policies were "in harmony" with the pope's criteria but not with some positions adopted by the U.S. bishops.

Laghi was apostolic delegate to the United States before his elevation to pronuncio, or ambassador, in 1984, while William Wilson had been one of Reagan's California buddies and his financial adviser, then graduated from personal envoy to ambassador to the Vatican. Laghi was much the smoother of the two. A charming if ambitious career diplomat, he had served as papal nuncio in Nicaragua, India and Palestine.

He was posted to Argentina in the 1970s during the height of the military terror, and that was probably his most difficult assignment. Although individual Argentines remembered him with gratitude for risking his life to help them, he was criticized for failing to speak out against the atrocities. His public speeches also revealed ambivalence.

In 1976, in the early months of the military regime, he gave a speech to the army in which he cited the church's just-war theory to sanction the military's campaign against dissent. He then blessed the troops. Of course, it was not the nuncio's job to supplant the Argentine bishops in denunciation of human-rights violations-a task most of them refused.

On the other hand, said Emilio F. Mignone, an Argentine Catholic writer and human-rights activist, Laghi displayed considerable cynicism in his public embrace of the junta. According to Mignone, Laghi played tennis regularly with Admiral Emilio Massera, among the most bloodthirsty of the military leaders, and, said Mignone, he admitted giving communion to a general he knew to be involved in the massacre of five Irish Argentine priests and seminarians-this at the funeral Mass for the slain priests.

Old acquaintances in Rome also discerned a certain cynicism, or 'romanitas,' in Laghi, whom they described as "conservative because he is ambitious for his career." Although Laghi disclaimed such ambitions, he was mentioned in Vatican circles as a candidate to replace Casaroli as secretary of state.

The go-between for John Paul and Reagan, and for the curia and American bishops, Laghi had a sensitive job. He tried to keep a low profile but was frequently in the news because of Rome's disciplinary measures against American Catholic leaders, most notably Archbishop Raymond Hunthausen. Laghi, who was called upon to apply the punishment, was furious when Hunthausen went public with the matter. It made him look bad, and his defense had the same self-serving tone that he had used in Argentina to dismiss Mignone and other supplicants who wanted him to speak out against mass torture and murder. It wasn't his fault, he complained to the New York Times, if Americans had a "Watergate complex" about Rome's desire to handle its affairs "behind the door."

For all his discretion, Laghi could not hide the fact that by the end of 1987 he had been instrumental in the appointment of nearly 100 U.S. bishops and 12 of the country's 33 archbishops. A good many were curia yes-men, and while their number was not sufficient to tip the balance in the 405-member bishops' conference, the trend was ominous for moderate and progressive sectors in the U.S. church. Catholic traditionalists shared the Reagan administration's optimism that, with time, the new bishops would stem the liberal trend, much as it was hoped that Reagan's Supreme Court appointments would slow down an activist court

In Rome, Bill Wilson made a splash of sorts by his business and political contacts, including those with Libyan leader Colonel Moammar Gadhafi. A well-to-do Californian with interests in oil, real estate and the stock exchange, Wilson was among a small group of businessmen who in the 1960s had urged Reagan to go into politics. He advised Reagan on his personal finances, negotiating the $500,000 purchase of Reagan's ranch near Santa Barbara and leading the fund-raising drive in California for his 1980 presidential bid.

A member of Reagan's "kitchen cabinet," Wilson was appointed presidential envoy to Rome in 1981. Vatican insiders said the appointment was primarily a "feather in the cap" of a man who was less interested in diplomacy than in business. Wilson had converted to Catholicism as a young man and was a member of the powerful Knights of Malta, an international organization comprising a 'Who's Who' of the Catholic right. His personal friendship with Reagan and self-described conservatism-he thought Vatican II had been a disaster-were apparently the major considerations in his appointment.

When he was not traveling on business affairs, the tall, distinguished-looking Californian got on well with the curia, particularly Archbishop Paul Marcinkus, the American-born head of the scandal-ridden Vatican Bank, who secured offices for Wilson in prime Vatican property near the papal apartments. Wilson returned the favor by writing to then Attorney General William French Smith on Marcinkus' behalf, for which he received a rap on the knuckles from senior Justice Department officials. They feared that Wilson might involve Smith in an Italian government investigation of Marcinkus' links to Michele Sindona, a convicted financial embezzler who had worked closely with the Vatican bank.

[ see IN GOD'S NAME ....by David A. Yallop ..... pub by Bantam 1984 .... JP ]

Wilson was valued primarily for his intimacy with Reagan, but it did not hurt that he agreed with the curia about Poland, Nicaragua and the dangers of Marxism in Latin America. [Wilson, who was fluent in Spanish, had a ranch in Mexico and business interests in Chile.] According to Wilson, he never "heard any adverse comment [on aid to the contras], so I have to assume they are in favor of it."

"But that's one of those cases where you have to read the tea leaves," Wilson said. "They have to be very careful about that. They have the problem with the troops working out of Honduras, another country; the problems with the Miskito Indians. The Vatican is concerned about the welfare of all these people, so they have to be careful."

Over a period of years Wilson's usefulness was eroded by a lack of diplomacy. He caused several flaps in addition to the Marcinkus incident, one of them coming after his claim that Rome supported the Reagan administration's position on El Salvador-which may have been true but was hardly diplomatic.

Another uproar greeted charges in a Roman newspaper that he had given the curia a hit list of "subversive" priests and nuns in Central America, urging that they be relieved of their duties. Wilson denied the charge, although he did admit that he would be pleased if the Catholic church exercised in Central America the "stabilizing" influence it exerted in Poland.

His last caper-an unauthorized visit to Gadhafi-led to his resignation in 1986. The Reagan administration had held Gadhafi responsible for terrorist attacks on the Rome and Vienna airports, and Americans and U.S. companies had been told to sever ties with Libya.

Nevertheless, Wilson held talks with Gadhafi's representatives in Libya shortly after the airport outrages. He defended the propriety of his visit and denied reports of business dealings on behalf of the Pennzoil Co., of which he had been a board director, but Secretary of State Shultz was angered by the trip at a time Washington was trying to isolate Gadhafi.

It did not seem to bother Reagan, who, when Wilson resigned, expressed "deep appreciation" for his friend's work at the Vatican. Indeed, some Washington analysts thought there was more to the matter than a tiff with the State Department, which had not only known of Wilson's business trips but allowed him to keep his seat on Pennzoil's board until the Libyan scandal broke. According to sources in Washington and Rome, Wilson had been communicating with Libya "over a period of time," and when matters turned nasty after the airport attacks, he reportedly asked the prime minister of Malta, Karmenu Mifsud Bonnici, to relay to Libyan officials information designed to defuse the situation.

Wilson had insisted when he was appointed to the Vatican that he had been given blanket authority by then National Security Adviser William Clark, another member of the California clique, to undertake missions at his own discretion and it was later charged, during congressional hearings, that Clark and his successor, Robert McFarlane, had approved Wilson's secret talks with Gadhafi.

While Clark and McFarlane denied the allegations, the affair suggested that Wilson may have maintained "back-channel communications" with the White House that bypassed the State Department. That such channels were in place became public knowledge when the Iran-contra scandal broke in 1986.