17. THE CIA AND THE VATICAN

In a Mother Jones article, investigative journalist Martin A. Lee takes on two of the world's most secretive and sensitive groups -- the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Vatican.

Lee charges that the CIA is using the Vatican as a source of foreign intelligence and is attempting to influence the Vatican's foreign policy through both overt and covert channels.

For centuries, the Vatican has been a prime target for foreign espionage. One of the world's greatest repositories of raw intelligence, it is a spy's gold mine. Ecclesiastical, political, and economic information filters in every day from thousands of priests, bishops, and papal nuncios who report regularly from every corner of the globe (and most importantly for the CLA, from Eastern Bloc countries) to the office of the Papal Secretariat. After World War II, the CIA reportedly created a special unit in its counterintelligence section to tap and monitor development within the Vatican.

Unbeknownst to most Catholics and many others, the Vatican, which carefully maintains an apolitical image, not only has a foreign office and diplomatic corps but also has a foreign policy. With Polish Communists embracing Catholicism and Latin American Catholics embracing Communism, the U.S. government and particularly the CIA have recently taken a much greater interest in the Vatican.

In his article, Lee charges that since World War II, the CIA has:

-- Penetrated the American Section of one of the wealthiest and most powerful Vatican orders, the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (SMOM) of which William Casey, director of the CIA, and Alexander Haig, former Secretary of State, are members;

-- employed undercover operatives to lobby members of the Curia (the Vatican government) and spy on liberal churchmen on the Pope's staff who challenge the political assumptions of the U.S.;

-- collaborated with right-wing Catholic groups to counter the actions of progressive clerics in Latin America;

-- supported factions within the church which were instrumental in promoting and electing the current Pope, John Paul II, whose Polish nationalism and anti-Communist credentials make him a perfect vehicle for U.S. foreign policy.

The issues presented in this brief synopsis are only a small part of a complex issue, one which has received minimal attention because of the secrecy and sensitive associated with both the CIA and the Vatican.

SOURCE:

MOTHER JONES, July, 1983, "Their Will Be Done," by Martin A. Lee.