From ................................... THE AMERICAN POPE
The Life and Times of Francis Cardinal Spellman
By- John Cooney
Pub. by- Times Books, The New York Times Book Co., Inc. 1984
[ Cooney would have one believe that the naive, simple-minded Roman Catholic Cardinal Spellman was used and controlled by a cynical, powerful American government. The actual case is American Roman Catholics serving the interest of their religious cult rather than the interest and ideals of the American nation ........ JP ]
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Eisenhower became President at an opportune time. Europe was steadily reviving; it was the Democrats who had "lost" China, the Soviets already had the atomic bomb [so he couldn't be accused of losing that], Korea was at a stalemate, and Stalin was to die only three months after Eisenhower took office. The Cold War should have started to thaw, but it didn't. Two reasons why the relaxation in tensions didn't occur were the Dulles brothers, John Foster and Allen, respectively the secretary of state and the deputy director of covert operations at the Central Intelligence Agency. Another reason was Cardinal Spellman, who was constantly demanding that Eisenhower come to the defense of nations threatened by Communism.
Of the Dulles brothers, Foster was the most like Spellman in his public attitude toward Communism. The tall, gray-haired, distinguished- looking secretary of state loved moralizing about Communism, denouncing the Soviets, and being involved in power plays and bluffs. Dulles, too, was arrogant and a believer that it was better to do something--anything, and the more dangerous the action the better-- than to do nothing. His risky foreign policy came to be known as "brinkmanship." "You have to take chances for peace, just as you have to take chances for war," he liked to say.
Through the Dulleses, the United States became involved in a number of highly controversial actions around the world, and the C.I.A. was strengthened.
Spellman admired the foreign policy of Foster Dulles, but not everyone did. New York Times columnist James Reston referred to him as "a supreme expert" in the art of "diplomatic blundering ........ he doesn't stumble into booby traps: he digs them to size, studies them carefully, and then jumps.'' Spellman was usually right behind.
Such was the disturbing case of Guatemala. An official of the Central Intelligence Agency approached Spellman in 1954 with a relatively simple request. The agent wanted him to arrange a "clandestine contact" between one of the C.I.A. men in Guatemala and Archbishop Mariano Rossell Arellano, a ranking churchman there. The contact could be useful "so that we could coordinate our parallel efforts," the official noted." Spellman needed no prodding. Since the Roosevelt administration, he had eagerly cooperated with the U.S. government's covert operations. The F.B.I. routinely turned to him for information about Latin America; often, it had Spellman or his priests gather political intelligence. Spellman, the Cold War churchman, believed any means should be used to stop Communism. Spellman, the American, in time would place the foreign policy goals of his government above those of the Vatican. But in 1954 in Guatemala, they were virtually the same.
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During his trips to Latin America, the Cardinal worked, in effect, as an arm of the United States government. Though Secretary of State Dulles had little use for the Catholic Church [even though his son Avery became a convert and then a priest] , he was pragmatic enough to recognize its value as a partner in fighting Communism. At one point Spellman's aide Griffiths noted that Dulles "certainly would do nothing if he thought it would benefit the Church."25 The secretary of state and the Cardinal cultivated one another because of their similar attitudes toward Marxism.
The C.I.A., like the F.B.I., turned to Spellman because of his connections and his prestige throughout Latin nations, where he helped churchmen with money and political advice and rebuked them on occasion. Of greater importance to U.S. officials, Spellman was an avowed supporter of the controversial dictatorships that the American government backed. The Cardinal was wined and dined by Batista in Cuba, Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, Stroessner in Paraguay, and Somoza in Nicaragua, and he accepted their many honors and blessed their regimes.
Spellman saw nothing wrong with his behavior. Generally, the dictators were supported by the hierarchy of their countries. As a churchman, he appreciated their anti-Communist positions. His sense of Americanism was pleased that such leaders toed the U.S. line. Spellman expected little else from a government leader. If asked about some of the brutal policies of Latin dictators, the churchman shrugged. "People often don't do what we would like but they can still be our friends," he said.
Latin officials tended to view Spellman more as a delegate of the United States government than of the Vatican. On his trips he frequently represented American foreign policy and was more than willing to spread American propaganda. While touring Latin America in 1952, for instance, he recorded an address in Peru over Desfile de Actualidad, the United States embassy's triweekly political- commentary radio program. His statement was mimeographed and five hundred copies were mailed around the country.
"It would be almost impossible to overestimate the public-relations value of Cardinal Spellman's visit to Peru," a Foreign Service officer wrote in a report to Washington."
The passionate defense of America that the Cardinal offered in Brussels reflected his true feelings, and he reveled in the role of an American emissary. He saw America not as simply stronger than Europe, but better. As though making up for all the years he had silently listened while his country was derided at the Vatican, the Cardinal was a most vocal patriot.
Thus, when Spellman's trip took him to Bolivia after Peru, his very Americanism made him unwanted. The Cardinal was treated as a ranking U.S. official in Bolivia at a time when relations with the United States were strained over the price of tin. Spellman was told that his scheduled visit with the President was canceled because of the leader's illness. American officials noted, though, that the reason was "Spellman is an American." Despite his illness the President had his picture in the paper; the photo was taken the day while he attended several ceremonies. "The president left La Paz the day of the Cardinal's arrival to recuperate at Copacabana, a hard, five-hour trip by automobile," the embassy dispatch cynically observed. "He is returning today, following the Cardinal's departure, fully recovered.!"27
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On another trip, Spellman landed in Paraguay, where he warmly greeted the dictator Alfredo Stroessner, who had recently effected a military coup. Unlike military dictatorships in Brazil and Chile that at least paid lip service to helping the people, Stroessner made no pretenses. His military and police were rewarded with graft, contraband, and the spoils of lucrative narcotics and prostitution trades. Upon his arrival Spellman went to the general's residence, where he publicly proclaimed what a pleasure it was to be in "the ancient Catholic country of Paraguay."28 Stroessner, who desired just such a blessing for his regime, thanked the Cardinal profusely.
Spellman took it in stride when he was approached by the C.I.A. about Guatemala. He may even have been expecting the visit. Guatemala had troubled the Church longer than it had Washington. The Church had been limited in its activities in Guatemala longer than anywhere else in Latin America. In 1871 an enlightened despot, Justo Rufino Barrios, had become President. He initiated land and education reforms and checked the influence of the Church by excluding the hierarchy from any active role in national affairs, deporting most foreign priests and threatening other priests caught in political activities. This burst of liberalism ended in 1885 when Rufino was killed in battle. The nation again became dominated by huge landowners and a series of dictators, supported by the United States.29
Guatemala's history changed dramatically when, in 1944, a young army offficer, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman, helped lead a revolt against the dictatorship of Jorge Ubico. The way was paved for the first democratic election in the country's history; the following year, Juan Jose Arevalo became President with more than eighty-five percent of the vote. A schoolteacher who idolized America, Arevalo wanted to institutionalize democracy, protect labor, promote land reform, and improve education, but opposition from the old guard and internal bickering blunted his effectiveness.
In 1950, Arbenz, who had served as Arevalo's minister of defense, was elected his successor. By 1954, the year the C.I.A. approached Spellman, both the [Roman Catholic] Church and the United States government believed their positions in Guatemala had deteriorated. Arbenz enjoyed the support of unions, some of which were Communist-controlled, and this had Spellman and the Vatican worried. To make matters worse, as far as many people in the U.S. government were concerned, Arbenz tried to implement an agrarian-reform program aimed not only at large Guatemalan landowners but also at the powerful United Fruit Company, which, for good reason, was known throughout Latin America as "the Octopus."
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United Fruit, while a symbol of Yankee imperialism to many Latins, was esteemed by U.S. Iawmakers, including congressmen who routinely demanded that the company's interests be safeguarded. Spellman's good friend John McCormack annually gave speeches on United Fruit and Guatemala, and even read into the Congressional Record articles by executives of the company lauding their corporation's contributions to Latin America. The moderate Arbenz program, which would pale considerably when compared with those later introduced by neighboring countries, alarmed United Fruit executives, U.S. officials, and Cardinal Spellman. The company prepared a carefully orchestrated public-relations program against Arbenz, which culminated in covert military intervention by the United States.
Allen Dulles and his C.I.A. subordinates recruited Colonel Castillo Armas as Guatemala's "liberator."
[ Castillo Armas a Latin American "Franco" ..... JP ]
United Fruit spent more than a half-million dollars a year for public relations and lobbying to spread the message that Arbenz was up to no good and Castillo Armas was the man to save the day. Foster Dulles had his own reasons for wanting Arbenz stopped, and these went beyond United Fruit. Not only had the Guatemalan challenged an American multinational company, but he had also stood up to the U.S. government. At the Tenth Inter-American Conference, in Caracas, the secretary of state, heavy-handed as usual, had pressured Latin countries into endorsing a resolution condemning Communist infiltration into Latin America. In casting a lone vote in opposition, Guatemala had outraged Dulles.
Thus, Spellman and the Church were swept up in one of the Dulles brothers' efforts at brinkmanship diplomacy. The [Roman Catholic] Church had an opportunity to regain power in Guatemala and stop a man who many churchmen saw as a Communist. Thus, as during the Italian elections, the [Roman Catholic] Church and the U.S. government joined forces. Spellman decided to help the Dulles brothers overthrow the Arbenz government. Little is known about what Spellman actually did, but it was clear that he acted swiftly.
After Spellman's meeting with the C.I.A. agent, a pastoral letter was read on April 9, 1954, in all Guatemalan churches. The missive called attention to the presence of Communists within the nation and demanded that the "people of Guatemala ....... rise as a single man against the enemy of God and country."
[whereas the German Roman Catholic hierarchy had supported loyalty to Hitler and the Nazi government .... JP ]
The C.I.A. in Guatemala, under the direction of E. Howard Hunt, capitalized on the letter. Thousands of previously prepared leaflets bearing the message were dropped from airplanes over remote areas uf the country.
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The high degree of [Roman Catholic] Church cooperation wasn't surprising. Throughout Latin America, the C.I.A. counted on the sympathetic support of [Roman Catholic] Catholic clergymen of all levels. The agency revealed later, during congressional hearings on its activities, that American missionaries of various denominations had been recruited as informers and part-time agents.30 Spellman was the highest-ranking churchman in such a role.
The [Roman Catholic] Church's support of Castillo Armas was obvious from such actions as a heavily publicized "Mass of Thanksgiving" for the rebel. But though Spellman and other churchmen were willing to support a coup, they were realistic. They had few illusions about the abilities of Castillo Armas. The nuncio in Guatemala, Monsignor Gennaro Verrolino, confided reservations about the rebel's ability to oust Arbenz to John E. Peurifoy, the ambassador to Guatemala. The nuncio matter-of-factly stated that the only way to protect "anti-Communists and Christians" was, most likely, direct intervention by the United States. Peurifoy, a self-styled tough guy who had visited Spellman after McCarthy made his Wheeling speech, needed no encouragement. His mission was either to get Arbenz to heel to American policy or to get rid of him.
An anxious Arbenz was aware of the forces mustering against him. He publicly stated that a heavily financed plot was under way to force him out of office. Among the conspirators was Cardinal Spellman, to whom Arbenz said Castillo Armas and his accomplice, General Miguel Ydigoras Fuentes, had appealed for aid. Spellman's friends Somoza and Trujillo were also implicated. The Cardinal didn't let being unmasked stop him. The number of pastoral messages against Arbenz increased, part of a campaign to make it appear that Arbenz was a Communist. From New York, Spellman arranged to have the clergy in Guatemala hold clandestine meetings with the anti-Arbenz faction. In a futile effort Arbenz turned to the Soviet Union for military aid. The Soviets tried to send six tons of anti- aircraft shells, but Eisenhower enforced a blockade of Guatemala.
The American-engineered coup finally came in June 1954. As Peurifoy jubilantly gave a firsthand account to Washington from his ambassador's office, the capital was strafed while a C.I.A. radio broadcast exaggerated rebels' successes over a "Voice of Liberation." Castillo Armas's ragtag army made some headway. Attempts by the Guatemalan government to get the United Nations Security Council involved resulted in a moral victory for Arbenz but little else. Finally, Arbenz resigned in the face of what seemed like opposing the United States itself. A three-man military junta temporarily took charge, but that government proved short-lived because of Peurifoy; two of the men were apparently bought off for cash and promises of diplomatic posts abroad under a Castillo Armas government.
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As president, Castillo Armas immediately dismantled the liberal steps taken by his predecessors. He disenfranchised seventy-five percent of Guatemala's voters by banning illiterates from the electoral process; abolished agrarian reform legislation; restored the secret police; banned political, labor, and peasant organizations; and went on a censorship binge that included burning novels by Dostoevski and Miguel Angel Asturias, a distinguished Guatemalan author and critic of United Fruit. [Asturias, in 1967, would be awarded the Nobel Prize in literature.]
Spellman had reason to rejoice. The new government reestablished long-broken ties with [Roman] Catholicism. Castillo Armas restored the right of the Church to own property, to give religious instruction in public schools, and to increase the number of foreigners among the clergy.
To further enhance the [Roman Catholic] Church's position in Guatemala as well as that of the United States, Spellman saw to it that Catholic Relief Services, the metamorphosis of the War Relief Services, began operating in Guatemala shortly after Arbenz fell. The CRS, which mushroomed to become the largest voluntary relief organization, distributed food, clothing, and medical supplies, most of it U.S. government surplus. The purpose of the CRS was to help the poor and to stem Communism; Spellman saw to it that the countries in which the CRS operated were those in which the American government had parallel programs. Now, Guatemala fell into that category.
Instead of putting Guatemala on the path to prosperity, Spellman and the U.S. officials involved in the Arbenz coup merely set the stage for decades of bloodshed. Guatemala became a financial sinkhole for the United States, which poured some $80 million into the nation in the first three years of the new regime. Little of it filtered down to the poor. By the 1980s, Guatemalan history was marked by a succession of dictatorships and brutally crushed revolts. According to a 1978 report on Guatemala by the World Bank, more than eighty percent of the land was owned by ten percent of the population; the illiteracy rate of seventy percent was the highest in the hemisphere but for Haiti's; the infant mortality rate was also tragically high.
Spellman, however, apparently gave little thought to the consequences of his actions other than having stopped someone whom he suspected of being a Communist. "Arbenz is dangerous for the entire hemisphere," Spellman told his aides.
Reaction to Spellman at the State Department was mixed. The Cardinal willingly shared [Roman Catholic] Church intelligence with American officials, was debriefed by U.S. intelligence agents after his trips to foreign countries, and advised officials on what actions should be taken around the world.
"Some people in the State Department thought he was meddling where he shouldn't be, but, with his Vatican sources, his information was sometimes better than what the State Department had," Herbert Brownell, Eisenhower's attorney general, recalled. "[Roman Catholic Cardinal] Spellman took a part in influencing our foreign policy."31
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Spellman gained influence with the administration in other areas as well. In 1956, an election year, he came to the White House because he wanted a hand in picking the next member of the Supreme Court. In the presence of Bernard Shanley, Eisenhower's special counsel, the Cardinal told Eisenhower of his dismay with the makoup of the Court. "Mr. President, it isn't that I want a Catholic on the Supreme Court, but I want someone who will represent the interests and views of the [Roman Catholic] Catholic Church," Spellman said. The President shook his head affirmatively and turned to Shanley. "Remind me about what the Cardinal wants when the time comes," the President said.32
Given Eisenhower's track record in naming Supreme Court justices, Spellman had reason for concern. The President had placed Earl Warren on the bench in 1953 and John M. Harlan the following year. The shift away from New Deal liberalism that Spellman and other conservatives hoped to see never occurred. Warren, in particular, worried Spellman. He was proving as liberal as anyone Roosevelt had ever appointed, maybe even more so. Shortly after the Cardinal's visit, Justice Sherman Minton retired. Eisenhower whittled his list of candidates down; the man he consulted with most was his attorney general, Brownell. When Shanley reminded the President of his commitment to Spellman, Eisenhower nonchalantly said there was no need to bother him. He and Brownell had made the choice. "It's okay; I've already talked to Herb about it and we've got someone who will suit the Cardinal," Eisenhower replied.
The man the President selected was William J. Brennan, a member of the New Jersey State Supreme Court. He was Irish and Catholic, qualities Eisenhower assumed fit Spellman's bill. Shanley himself was pleased. He and Brennan had grown up together in Newark and had remained friends over the years. "Brennan is the Cardinal's kind of man," Eisenhower told Shanley.
The President was wrong. Eisenhower made the mistake of lumping all Catholics together. As far as Spellman was concerned, Brennan wasn't conservative enough. Of greater importance to the prelate, Brennan wasn't the kind of man who was easily swayed by a member of the Church hierarchy. The first person Brownell called after the selection was Spellman. "The Cardinal was a very powerful political figure in New York," Brownell said. "We wanted him to know that we had selected the Catholic."
Brownell had known Spellman since his days as a campaign strategist for Governor Dewey. He knew of the strong Dewey-Spellman friendship, which, he noted, was a genuine one that "grew out of their common political interests." Although a fierce anti-Communist and an early McCarthy supporter, Brownell had been dismayed by the level of backing Spellman continued to give McCarthy after it was obvious how destructive the senator was. Moreover, Brownell resented the Cardinal's hand in trying to have Roy Cohn replace him as U.S. attorney in New York. Even so, Brownell admired the way Spellman had accrued so much political muscle in New York.
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"I don't know him," Spellman said when Brownell called. "Who is his parish priest?" The attorney general, of course, hadn't any idea. The question became a standing joke between him and the Cardinal, who pretended to be shocked at Brownell's ignorance. As far as Brownell was concerned, the matter was closed.33 Not just Spellman but also other [Roman] Catholic officials had petitioned Eisenhower to appoint a [Roman] Catholic to the bench. There hadn't been a Catholic on the Supreme Court since Frank Murphy, an associate justice from 1940 to 1949.
Spellman, however, was disgusted. He hadn't been consulted and hadn't gotten the kind of man he wanted. The Cardinal didn't blame Eisenhower or BrownellÑhe blamed Shanley. In an effort to help Shanley among both Catholics and his friends in New Jersey, Brownell had spread the word that Shanley had played a key role in Brennan's selection (although Shanley hadn't). Spellman believed Brownell and thought Shanley had betrayed him.
The next thing Shanley knew, Spellman was in his office. Only steps from the Oval Office, Spellman dressed down one of the President's chief aides.
''He gave me hell," Shanley remembered. "It was one of the worst things I have ever been through."
Shanley declined to specify what Spellman said that cut so deeply. Whatever it was, Shanley was so taken aback by the assault that he couldn't defend himself. A practicing Catholic, Shanley was in awe of Spellman. At one point, the Eisenhower aide tried to explain that he had had nothing to do with Brennan's appointment, but Spellman refused to listen. The Cardinal continued his tongue-lashing until he turned and left.
Shanley kept the confrontation to himself, not wanting to upset Eisenhower. Moreover, he felt humiliated.34
Spellman didn't get everything he wanted by presenting his case behind closed doors. There were times when private pleadings simply didn't work, and he sought public forums. To politicians, the Cardinal as a public figure often proved far more dangerous than he was in private. When they stood face to face, politicians could reason with Spellman, or at least try to do so. In public, Spellman played on his followers' emotions to generate support.
Cardinal Spellman stood on the dais of the huge auditorium in the nation's capital. On this muggy day, August 30, 1954, as the main speaker at the American Legion convention, he had the thousands of veterans on the edge of their seats as he angrily denounced the foreign policy of the United States. With evangelical fervor he warned of the possibility of "another Pearl Harbor" and the impossibility
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of peaceful coexistence between competing political systems, one of which was "continually clawing at the throat of the other." Murmurs of agreement, like the buzzing of angry bees, filled the vast hall.
"War to the hilt between Communism and capitalism is inevitable," the Cardinal declared.
Like many men in the audience, Spellman was bitter and frustrated by Communist gains in Korea and China. Just several months earlier he had helped his government destroy the leftist government in Guatemala, but he believed much more had to be done. Spellman thought America was running scared. He cited yet another example of what he perceived as the failure of U.S. foreign policy--a tiny Asian country called Vietnam.
Most Americans couldn't even find Vietnam on a map, but in large measure because of Spellman's public and private lobbying, Vietnam would become the leading example of what went wrong when the policy of containment was carried to extremes.
In doing so, Spellman helped make the possibility of direct American involvement in Vietnam not only acceptable but desirable to millions of Americans.
In the long run, his fervor for the cause would do more to undermine his political power within his Church and his country than any other stance he ever took. In 1954, however, the Cardinal just reacted the way he always did whenever Communism made gains: he moved to obliterate his foe.
For months, Spellman had tried unsuccessfully to pressure the administration into beefing up assistance to the French troops fighting Communist insurgents in Vietnam. The United States, however, had underwritten eighty percent of the French war costs; Eisenhower was reluctant to go further, even though the Dulles brothers also wanted what Spellman pushed. Now Spellman was dismayed. Three months earlier, the Communists had done what had seemed impossible--beaten the French forces with a final major battle at Dienbienphu. The cease-fire negotiated at the just-concluded Geneva Conference called for the partition of Vietnam into halves, with the Communists getting the north. The accord struck Spellman as another example of appeasement of the Reds.
"If Geneva and what was agreed upon there means anything at all, it means that the trumpet which we heard over the fallen garrison at Dienbienphu last May sounded taps and not reveille," the Cardinal told the legionnaires. "Taps for the buried hopes of freedom in Southeast Asia! Now the devilish techniques of brainwashing, forced confessions, and rigged trials have a new locale for their exercise....."
The Cardinal's message was clear. The fall of Vietnam brought the day closer when Communists would dominate the United States. "We shall risk bartering our liberties for lunacies, betraying the sacred trust of our forefathers, becoming serfs and slaves to the Red ruler's godless goons," he swore.
The other speakers needed no introduction: Madame Chiang Kaishek and Admiral Arthur W. Radford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who was a familiar figure at the Powerhouse.
-END QUOTE- ...............end page 239
[the "Powerhouse" was the nickname of Cardinal Spellman's residence]