Associated Press

December 22, 1994

VATICAN CITY (AP) -- Seeking to focus American aid efforts better, the White House is close to reaching a pact with the Vatican to use [Roman Catholic] church sources to identify crucial relief needs in war and famine zones, a U.S. diplomat said Thursday.

[ IOW- RC cult leaders determine who receives USA aid .... JP ]

[ note scheme is presented as if it were a favor to the USA ... JP ]

President Clinton's proposal for a "humanitarian diplomacy" strategy with the Vatican could help mend relations after moving far apart on issues such as birth control and abortion.

It also could win Clinton points with the new Republican-led Congress, which appears ready to cut some foreign aid programs and closely examine the needs for others.

Clinton's letter, delivered to the Vatican on Dec. 5, is being studied by Pope John Paul II and has so far been viewed favorably by church officials, said Raymond Flynn, U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.

The core of the plan is to use reports from clergymen and church-backed aid groups to determine the types of medicine, food and other humanitarian relief items needed. Flynn said the accord would not deal with contraceptives and other services opposed by the Vatican.

But Flynn denied that the pact would force U.S. aid efforts to conform to Vatican standards. He insisted it is only to better gauge relief needs at a time of increasing close budget scrutiny.

"We're talking about a very powerful alliance," said Flynn.

"It's the world's only remaining superpower and the most important moral force in the world working together on issues of social justice."

Flynn did not know when a formal response could come from the pope, who often speaks out about the need for rich nations to help the needy. Vatican officials have not commented on the letter.

"The church's ability to mobilize people and support from around the world is unparalleled. ... I believe that by working together more closely and better coordinating our responses to human crises we could significantly alleviate the suffering," Clinton wrote in the letter, obtained by The Associated Press.

Clinton suggested the White House and Vatican "share information ... on a more systematic basis through our embassies."