Tuesday, September 20, 2005

"I Have to Tell You What the Pope Thinks"

Not to pile any more on the Iraq bandwagon, but Cardinal Pio Laghi -- the former pro-nuncio to the US who served as the special papal envoy to Washington in the run-up to Gulf War II -- has given an exceptional interview to RAI radio in Italy, chronicled in La Stampa (in Italian).

Laghi brought Bush a letter from John Paul pleading for peace. He claims that POTUS just laid it aside. Before meeting with the President, he spoke of a session with the then-National Security Adviser Condoleeza Rice, who "submitted [Laghi] to a forceful interrogation, with its natural responses."

"It was a conversation in which we spoke with great clarity and great frankness," the veteran diplomat said.

At the start of his 40 minute session with President Bush, Cardinal Laghi hand-delivered the papal appeal for peace. But, according to Laghi,
"The president... took it, put it aside and then began to speak to me, I wouldn't say to indoctrinate me, but to insist on the fact that he had already selected a solution and that this solution was a just one. He gave me forty minutes, and at a certain point I had to stop him and say: 'Mr. President, I have come to speak with you, not solely to listen to you. I have to tell you what the Pope thinks.'"
One of many, many moments when -- despite all the spin and pandering -- George Bush did not equal John Paul. He went to the man's funeral, but didn't even want to listen to him in his lifetime.... Hmm.



Blogger Rich Leonardi said...


Doesn't Cardinal Laghi's recollection strike you as ... odd? What interest would Bush have in "dissing" the Pope? He's a shrewd enough politician to have played "let's pretend" if really had made up his mind before the meeting.

20/9/05 13:20  
Blogger Todd said...

Politicians have dissed the poep all the time. Who was it who joked about how many military divisions the Vatican had?

Laghi's story matches up with what we know about the hubris of the Bush administration. Laghi may be a fool, a political oppotunist, senile, or whatever, but his story might also be dead-on accurate. What then?

20/9/05 13:30  
Blogger Jason C. said...

While I'm sure Laghi is speaking honestly, perspective always needs to be taken into account. He obviously had very strong views about the war, and his experience of the meeting may be different from others. What he took as "brushing aside" may have been entirely innocent.

Maybe not. President Bush is not Catholic. Although he respected the Holy Father, he did not believe him endowed with special authority. The Pope is one among many religious figures who would like to lend their voice to the President of the free world. For Laghi, as a Catholic, his view is "please, if you're going to listen to anyone, listen to the Pope". For Bush, as a non-Catholic statesman, his view is "ok, you made your case. There are religious figures in my own country who disagree with you. I'm willing to hear all sides, but I'm not going to hold any preeminent over the others".

20/9/05 14:20  
Blogger Ian said...

Rocco, had Kerry been president and the Papal envoy wanted to have a conversation about his abortion policy, would you have bothered to post about him brushing aside the envoy's comments?

20/9/05 14:51  
Blogger Vonshui said...

Laghi, even outside meetings with the president, is and has always been known for his vehement anti-Americanism.

We need not get into the bones of his own closet, extensive though they are...Meanwhile, Laghi calling POTUS and his administration apathetic to the Vatican's cause is the pot calling the kettle Marian Blue.

Lets recall the famous slap in-the-face by Laghi and his legion of secretaries. One of the highest ranking officials within the president's cabinet (DOD I believe, name escapes me) showed up for a meeting with what was supposed to have been a rep. of the Roman Pontiff (LAGHI). Instead, he was short-changed and met with a secretary of a secretary of a secretary of someone who was being fitted at Gamarellis of that guy's secretary. It might as well have been the curial cleaning woman. The cabinet member was told "thank you, your concerns shall be passed on." AT THAT WAS IT!!!!!!!!! Remember, this is the 11th hour before the war was set to begin...the Vatican's last "plea for peace" was nothing more than a waste of American air fuel. That was one of the most embarassing incidents preceeding the war as the U.S. did NOT let the Vatican forget the dis. Of course, from the files of hypocrisy we have JP2 funneling millions of Peter's Pence ("THE AMERICAN PURSE") and Vatican dollars to Polish revolutionaries within his first two years of the Petrine occupation. Oh, I suppose only eastern Europeans deserve democracy...silly me.

Back to Real Politik:
Where was Laghi to meet the American diplomat?
MEETING FOR HOURS with Saddam's #1 of course, "sympathetic to the cause of the Iraqi people", "ensuring Iraq the Vatican's full support", lending a friendly Vatican ear as always to tyrannical regimes. What "Iraqi" people? The only people then were "SADDAM'S PEOPLE".

The Vatican is rife with Anti-Americanism, yet we are, as in every other international organization, the spine and largest financial contributor to ideas headed by people that can't stand us.

I visit the Papal State only when I HAVE TO and NEVER give to Peter's "American Purse". Its meant poor Laghi has to suffer from a few cuff-links, but in the end, I feel great!

20/9/05 15:00  
Blogger Vonshui said...

*less cuff-links that is...

20/9/05 15:02  
Blogger Gyrovagus said...

Pio Laghi lecturing George Bush on the finer points of the Just War Theory is like another hero of the defeated Kerryites, Senator Ted "Chappaquiddick" Kennedy lecturing the Department of Defense about the immorality of "water-boarding" as an interrogation technique against Islamo-fascist terrorists because it "simulates" drowning. (That's right, Senator, why "simulate" drowning if you can pull off the real thing and then spend the next forty years in the Senate rather than in maximum security?).

Before we start getting the SANTO SUBITO signs ready for Pio the Pious, let's all look this up on Google:

Las Madres de Plaza de Mayo

Hint: it's about Argentina and Pio's tennis-playing days with members of the junta.

Recall, also - whilst you're pontificating on hubris - the fact that Tariq Azziz arrives for a private audience with the ignored-by-POTUS John Paul II in the company of one Melkite-rite Archbishop Hilarion Cappucci (sometimes Capucci), he of "Palestinian martyrs" fame.

You youngsters might also want to Google that name and see if you come up any information about that sainted-prelate's gun-running on behalf of Arrafat's PLO in the mid 1970s. Apparently Paul VI's promise to the Israeli government that Cappucci would be in a Brazilian monastery for the rest of his life didn't survive that late Pontiff's death.

After the papal audience, Azziz and Cappucci piously went to Assisi to sign the Peace Book, causing ANYONE who remembers the scandalous affairs of the 1970s involving Cappucci to gag on our Starbucks.

Then move on to this lovely website:


to see another Pio Laghi-Angelo Sodano-Jean Tauran "darling" (a former UN official who became a priest in record time and entered immediately into the service of the Secretariat of State, having caught Casaroli's eye, or having come to his attention, depending on your perspective). This nitwit is a BIG part of the Azziz-Cappucci story. And that story is at least a factor in the Bush Administration's reaction to Laghi.

You know, boys, no offense: But the "diplomacy" surrounding the build up to the Iraqi War was NOT the Holy See's finest hour. And hubris, although I think its Roman practitioners would call it superbia, is hardly the private preserve of the Bush Administration.

The difference is, of course, neither George Bush nor Dick Cheney nor Donald Rumsfeld are wearing oversized gold crosses around their necks or claiming a teaching authority in unbroken descent from the first Apostles.

Of course, your heroes may very well win the next presidential election. And whoever is pontiff then will have a whole new kind of hubris to deal with, won't he?

20/9/05 17:04  
Blogger GregY said...

Just one point: Comparing the war in Iraq--whatever you think of it--to Poland's struggle to shake off communism is absurd.

20/9/05 17:43  
Blogger Jeff said...

Ah, gee whiz. Todd's comments are always fertile soil for simple, but missed, lessons.

"Politicians have dissed the poep all the time. Who was it who joked about how many military divisions the Vatican had?"

It was Stalin. A dictator and mass murderer. Not a politician. But comparing Bush to Hitler, Pol Pot, Satan to the third power, etc., is the annoying parlor trick of the Left, masters of Dialogue.

"Laghi's story matches up with what we know about the hubris of the Bush administration."

Sigh, typical leftist lack of perspective. Why? Because the concept of perspective does not apply to them. That's why they don't say, "Bush seems to me to show a singular hubris." Nope. It's what "we" "know" about the Bush administration, not what they think.

"Laghi may be a fool, a political oppotunist, senile, or whatever, but his story might also be dead-on accurate. What then?"

I don't think Laghi is any of those things. He might be accurate; he might NOT. Or it might be that there are two sides to the story and appearances and impressions are at issue, not just facts. What then?

Try imagining an answer to your own question, Todd. Just IMAGINE for the sake of argument that there might be a different way to view the same facts. Perhaps Bush had already been briefed on what the Pope thought. Perhaps people in the Vatican were not willing his argument and perhaps they weren't!

What then?

Bush surely isn't the moral or political equal of the Pope, whatever one thinks of him. What political figure in the world IS his equal? What then?

Why talk to someone who doesn't want to have a discussion but rather to illuminate one's ignorance? I'm happy to entertain the proposition that Bush is an ass, a vain fool, full of hubris, made a silly mistake, etc. But only with someone willing to entertain the opposite conclusions!

What if Catholics treated politics as POLITICS, instead of some kind of dogma and talked about it with each other in respectful terms? What then?

20/9/05 17:51  
Blogger Vonshui said...

Absurd: adj. meaning Ridiculous to the point of being laughable.

I hardly think Iraq's plight is laughable especially when the Poles were finally free and they opted to RE-ELECT communist officials BACK into ALL OF THEIR GOVERNMENT'S SEATS...thats a lot of wasted Vatican coinage, needlessly, its also a slap-in-face to everyone that prayed for their freedom.

I do have a love for Pologna, but sometimes I wonder if all of the jokes really are true.

That said, what is the difference between Arabs and Poles fighting for the exact same thing aided by the SAME ALLIES...even "anti-war" JP2 had to admit Regan played the LARGEST and most fundamental role in destroying the Iron Curtain.

20/9/05 18:04  
Blogger Vonshui said...

Did'nt mean to crap on the Gipper...


20/9/05 18:10  
Blogger GregY said...

what is the difference between Arabs and Poles fighting for the exact same thing
Umm, well, for starters, the Arabs weren't the ones fighting for freedom in Iraq.
Look, I'm not questioning that there were some sincere good intentions behind the war in Iraq. In fact, I believe JPII used the term "noble" to describe the struggle to create a new government with respect for human rights in Iraq. The problem is that this is not something that can be imposed--the people of Iraq must be the ones who are willing to fight and die for it. Are they? We will see... esp. when the cry for us to get out raises to such a deafening pitch that congress will say no more, Mr. President. just my 2-cents.

21/9/05 09:31  
Blogger Rich Leonardi said...

Laghi's story matches up with what we know about the hubris of the Bush administration. Laghi may be a fool, a political oppotunist, senile, or whatever, but his story might also be dead-on accurate. What then?

Perhaps with what you know. More likely it's the fruit of that gift of exaggeration my Italian brothers are known for.

21/9/05 13:21  
Blogger Vonshui said...

According to Greg Y, each of the revolutionaries executed by the hand of Saddam and later found in mass graves all died in vain.

Freedom is an inate, human right, an "imposition" of which is IMPOSSIBLE, it is a borne dignity by God (no, I dont think GW is God-sent). Those who do not wish it may look at Iran or Saudia Arabia for an indication of their future, additionally, I believe the TALIBAN would not mind another cabinet member.

Bush has picked up where the Gipper left off.


21/9/05 15:16  
Blogger Jonathan said...

Chopin, since when was Lech Walesa a "former communist leader"? And, even with the re-election of some of the former communist leaders, is Poland communist once more? What you are implying makes no sense unless Poand reverted to its former Communist state.

The Vatican wasted no coinage. Especially since it is not saddled with the belief that past sins can forever render you a pariah. Believing in forgiveness does that. One can argue that such a stance in disadvantageous, such as in the case of the abuse scandal, but to think that the Vatican wasted "coinage" by looking at something they would have no problem with come to pass is quite absurd.

When it came to the Iraq War, it does seem to me that the Bush Administration and the Pope were talking past each other in several occassions. Delicate and over-sensitive diplomats like Archbishop Pio Laghi aren't really of much help in matters.

22/9/05 12:10  

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