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FTR #559 The Opus Dei Code – The Vatican Rag Pt. III

MP3: Side 1 [1] | Side 2 [2]

Intro­duc­tion: The movie “The Da Vin­ci Code” has focused pub­lic atten­tion on the Opus Dei order, a reac­tionary Catholic orga­ni­za­tion with strong his­tor­i­cal links to fas­cism. High­light­ing its influ­ence on the cur­rent pope and his pre­de­ces­sor, this pro­gram sets forth some of the areas of influ­ence of this secre­tive orga­ni­za­tion. Play­ing a sig­nif­i­cant role in the rise of John Paul II through the Vat­i­can hier­ar­chy, Opus Dei was accord­ed spe­cial stature by the Pope once he was in office. Like­wise, Opus Dei appears to have heav­i­ly influ­enced the ele­va­tion of Car­di­nal Ratzinger to the papa­cy and appears to be wield­ing great influ­ence over access to the Pope. In addi­tion to review­ing Opus Dei’s col­lab­o­ra­tion with inter­na­tion­al fas­cism, the broad­cast sets forth the sig­nif­i­cant influ­ence of Opus Dei on the U.S. Sen­ate debate on the same-sex mar­riage bill. An area of spec­u­la­tion con­cerns the Opus Dei role in the Vat­i­can Bank­ing scan­dals of the ear­ly 1980’s, and the pos­si­ble influ­ence of P‑2 Lodge Grand Mas­ter Licio Gel­li on the “inves­ti­ga­tion” of the shoot­ing of John Paul II. Opus Dei was appar­ent­ly involved in the maneu­ver­ing around the col­lapse of the Ban­co Ambrosiano. The re-open­ing of the inves­ti­ga­tion into the mur­der of Ambrosiano chair­man and P‑2 Lodge mem­ber Rober­to Calvi has fea­tured the indict­ment of Lico Gel­li. Short­ly after Gelli’s tes­ti­mo­ny in the Calvi case, the would-be assas­sin of the Pope was released from prison, and Italy and Poland res­ur­rect­ed the dis­cred­it­ed “Bul­gar­i­an Con­nec­tion,” alleg­ing that the for­mer Sovi­et Union shot the Pope.

Pro­gram High­lights Include: John Paul II’s beat­i­fi­ca­tion of the founder of Opus Dei, as well as Arch­bish­op Stepinac (a mem­ber of the fas­cist Croa­t­ian par­lia­ment dur­ing World War II); the influ­ence of Opus Dei on reac­tionary gov­ern­ments in Latin Amer­i­ca; the influ­ence of Opus Dei on Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty; the strik­ing influ­ence of Bene­dict XVI’s per­son­al assis­tant Georg Gan­swein (an Opus Dei pro­fes­sor) on the papa­cy. Be sure to check out the influ­ence of Opus Dei on the fam­i­ly of Maria Shriv­er, Arnold Schwarzenegger’s wife. This is doc­u­ment­ed in FTR#422 [4].

1. The pro­gram begins with dis­cus­sion of Ratzinger’s close rela­tion­ship with his papal pre­de­ces­sor. The broad­cast notes their strong affin­i­ty through reac­tionary the­o­log­i­cal prin­ci­ples. As we shall see, both John Paul II and Bene­dict XVI have been great­ly influ­enced by Opus Dei. Note the nick­name ‘Panz­erkar­di­nal’ bestowed on Ratzinger by fel­low priests.

“ . . . The Pole and the Ger­man have been called intel­lec­tu­al bed­fel­lows. For almost 20 years, the two met at least once a week, usu­al­ly Fri­days, for a 90-minute dis­cus­sion of doc­trine and dis­ci­pline. A work­ing lunch fol­lowed, last­ing often until late in the after­noon. A the­o­log­i­cal lib­er­al of sorts in his youth, Ratzinger was lat­er nick­named the ‘Panz­erkar­di­nal’ for his iron hand in bring­ing Marx­ist priests in Latin Amer­i­ca and cler­ics with mushy views on sex­u­al ethics to heel. . .”
(“Analy­sis: Ratzinger in the Ascen­dance” by Uwe Siemon-Net­to; [Unit­ed Press Inter­na­tion­al]; The Wash­ing­ton Times.)

2. The broad­cast reviews some of the fas­cist con­nec­tions of Opus Dei.

“But it was not only the inevitable intrigue in Rome that left its mark. Back in Spain, Opus Dei mem­bers were mak­ing rapid advances in the Fran­co gov­ern­ment under Admi­ral Luis Car­rero Blan­co, an Opus Dei sym­pa­thiz­er who, as pre­mier, vir­tu­al­ly ran the coun­try. Until Carrero’s assas­si­na­tion in 1973, Opus Dei lead­ers were arguably the strongest con­ser­v­a­tive polit­i­cal influ­ence in Spain.”
(Peo­ple of God; by Pen­ny Lernoux; Copy­right 1989 by Pen­ny Lernoux; [HC] Viking [Viking Pen­guin Pub­lish­ing Inc.]; ISNB 0–670-81529–2; p. 314.) [5]

3. As men­tioned above, John Paul II was pro­found­ly influ­enced by Opus Dei. More about John Paul II’s inti­mate rela­tion­ship with Opus Dei can be found in para­graph #10. “Mat­ters changed rad­i­cal­ly when John Paul became pope. Opus Dei had court­ed the pope since his days as arch­bish­op of Krakow. He had been invit­ed to speak at var­i­ous Opus Dei cen­ters in Europe and at an event in Rome. The speech­es were lat­er made into a book, copies of which were sent by Wojty­la to the Vat­i­can Sec­re­tari­at of State. In 1978, when he was in Rome for the funer­al of John Paul I, Wojty­la vis­it­ed Opus Dei’s man­sion to pray at the black mar­ble crypt of ‘El Padre,’ who had died three years ear­li­er. Mon­sign­or Por­tillo, his suc­ces­sor and, by some accounts, the brains of Opus Dei, was wel­comed at the Vat­i­can by the new pope, who in turn was invit­ed to vis­it Opus Dei’s house and cen­ters.” (Ibid.; p. 315.)

4. Among the many shores upon which the waters of Opus Dei have lapped is that of the Ban­co Ambrosiano scan­dal and the P‑2 Lodge. As will be seen below, the Ban­co Ambrosiano scan­dal and the oth­er Vat­i­can bank­ing scan­dals are on the front burn­er once again, with a mur­der tri­al now under­way for the killers of Rober­to Calvi. (For more about the Ban­co Ambrosiano scan­dal, see—among oth­er pro­grams—AFA#’s 17–21 [6], 32 [7], 34 [7], and Mis­cel­la­neous Archive Shows M60, M61 [8], avail­able from Spit­fire, as well as FTR#’s #‘s 43 [9], 59 [10], 70 [11], 71 [12], 80 [13], 81 [14], 98 [15], 185 [16], 213 [17], 217 [18], 221 [19], 229 [20], 237 [21]. For dis­cus­sion of the inter­sec­tion of the P‑2 milieu with that of Al Qae­da, see FTR#’s 342 [22], 359 [23], 360 [24], 377 [25].)

“Opus Dei was drawn into that imbroglio [the P‑2 lodge scan­dal] by asser­tions that it had been nego­ti­at­ing with Rober­to Calvi, head of Milan’s Ambrosiano Bank and a key fig­ure in P‑2, regard­ing a pos­si­ble bailout for Ambrosiano that would save the Vat­i­can Bank finan­cial loss­es and embar­rass­ment aris­ing from its deal­ings with Calvi. The banker’s body, either mur­dered or a sui­cide, was lat­er found hang­ing from Black­fri­ars Bridge in Lon­don. His wid­ow main­tained that he had been in touch with Car­di­nal Palazz­i­ni, the Opus Dei sym­pa­thiz­er in charge of Escriva’s beat­i­fi­ca­tion process, about the res­cue oper­a­tion, pre­sum­ably to be car­ried out with the help of Opus Dei mem­bers who owned or con­trolled banks in Spain. The trade-off, accord­ing to Vat­i­can observers, was to have been a takeover by Opus Dei mem­bers of the Vat­i­can Bank and the Vat­i­can Radio con­trolled by the more pro­gres­sive Jesuits. Let­ters were found on Calvi from Francesco Pazien­za, a Calvi aide with links to Ital­ian and U.S. intel­li­gence, in which Pazien­za referred to con­tacts between Palazz­i­ni and Calvi.” (Ibid.; pp. 317–318.)

5. Opus Dei wields great influ­ence in Latin Amer­i­ca.

“At the start of 1983, Opus seemed poised for a major expan­sion based on papal favor and its new sta­tus as a prela­ture. Its main base remained in Spain, where it raised the largest con­tri­bu­tions and enjoyed the most sub­stan­tial polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic influ­ence, but the move­ment also gained mem­bers and influ­ence in Italy . . .It was also strong in Latin Amer­i­ca, par­tic­u­lar­ly in Mex­i­co, Colom­bia, Peru, and Chile. Opus Dei mem­bers and sym­pa­thiz­ers sup­port­ed the CIA-backed coup that over­threw Chilean pres­i­dent Allende, and one of them Her­nan Cubil­los, became Gen­er­al Pinochet’s for­eign min­is­ter. Cubil­los, who found­ed Que Pasa, a mag­a­zine under Opus Dei influ­ence, was lat­er iden­ti­fied as an ‘impor­tant’ CIA agent by the Los Ange­les Times.” (Ibid.; p. 318.)

6. “In Chile, Peru, and El Sal­vador, Opus Dei pro­vides invalu­able sup­port to right-wing polit­i­cal groups through its reli­gious cours­es and schools, and through news­pa­pers, mag­a­zines, and tele­vi­sion out­lets influ­enced or owned by mem­bers. ‘It serves a func­tion for the polit­i­cal right and pow­er hold­ers,’ said a stu­dent of Opus Dei activ­i­ties in Latin Amer­i­ca. . . .A Span­ish priest made a sim­i­lar obser­va­tion about the influ­ence of Opus Dei bankers and indus­tri­al­ists in Europe: ‘They want to stop the growth of social­ism and paci­fy the labor move­ment through reli­gion.” (Ibid.; p. 319.)

7. One of the indi­ca­tions that the late Pope John Paul II’s alleged anti-Nazi sen­ti­ments are mytho­log­i­cal is the fact that he beat­i­fied Arch­bish­op Alois Stepinac (a mem­ber of the fas­cist Ustachi par­lia­ment in Croa­t­ia dur­ing World War II), as well as Father Escri­va de Bal­a­guer, the founder of the Opus Dei sect. (For more about the fas­cist con­nec­tions of Opus Dei, see—among oth­er programs—FTR#422 [4].) As dis­cussed in FTR#422 [26], Opus Dei was involved with the afore­men­tioned Ban­co Ambrosiano scan­dal as well. “Pope John Paul II has cre­at­ed a record num­ber of saints dur­ing the 22 years he has reigned as head of the Catholic Church. He has bestowed saint­hood on almost 300 respect­ed fig­ures from the Church’s long his­to­ry who dis­played ‘hero­ic virtue’ dur­ing their lives. He has beat­i­fied about 800 more, putting them on the road to becom­ing saints.”
(“Remov­ing the Pol­i­tics from Saint­hood” by David Lloyd; Vision: Foun­da­tion for a New World; 3/9/2000; p. 1.)

8. “Often his choic­es have been con­tro­ver­sial and viewed as polit­i­cal state­ments. In 1998, his deci­sion to beat­i­fy the Croa­t­ian Car­di­nal Aloy­sius Stepinac received much crit­i­cism from Ortho­dox Serbs and Jews. Stepinac was arch­bish­op for Zagreb dur­ing World War II and after­wards was accused of col­lab­o­rat­ing with the Nazis in their mas­sacre of Serbs, Jews and Gyp­sies in Croa­t­ia. In 1992, he beat­i­fied Jose­maria Escri­va, the Span­ish founder of the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Opus Dei—a move­ment wide­ly viewed with sus­pi­cion as a secret soci­ety. . . .” (Idem.)

9. Opus Dei, whose founder, Father Escri­va de Bal­a­guer, praised Hitler and was an ardent admir­er of Span­ish dic­ta­tor Fran­cis­co Fran­co, appears to have been a major play­er in the elec­tion of Ratzinger. “ . . . Sev­er­al Euro­pean car­di­nals are sym­pa­thet­ic to Opus Dei, among the Car­di­nal Camil­lo Rui­ni, the Ital­ian prelate who runs the Dio­cese of Rome on behalf of the pope, and a con­tender to suc­ceed John Paul. Rui­ni last year opened pro­ceed­ings to declare Opus Dei’s Del Por­tillo a saint. But recent­ly, sev­er­al Ital­ian news­pa­pers breath­less­ly report­ed that the two Opus Dei car­di­nals were throw­ing their sup­port behind the can­di­da­cy of Car­di­nal Joseph Ratzinger, a Ger­man-born tra­di­tion­al­ist who has served as chief enforcer of church doc­trine for two decades.”
(“Con­tro­ver­sial Opus Dei Has Stake in Papal Vote” by Lar­ry B. Stam­mer and Tra­cy Wilkin­son; The Los Ange­les Times; 4/19/2005; p. 2.) [27]

10. Ratzinger/Benedict’s friend and pre­de­ces­sor John Paul II ele­vat­ed opus Dei. More about John Paul II’s close rela­tion­ship to Opus Dei is con­tained in para­graph #3.

“Opus Dei flour­ished dur­ing John Paul’s pon­tif­i­cate. In 1982, he took the unprece­dent­ed step of mak­ing Opus Dei a per­son­al prela­ture of the church, answer­able not to local bish­ops in the dio­ce­ses where it oper­at­ed, but to the pope alone. In anoth­er sign of the group’s influ­ence, the pope placed Opus Dei’s founder, the Span­ish priest Jose­maria Escri­va de Bal­a­guer, on the fast track to saint­hood in 1992, leapfrog­ging over Pope John XXIII. In 2002, Escri­va was can­on­ized before a crowd of 300,000 in St. Peter’s Square, becom­ing St. Jose­maria a mere 27 years after he died. . . .” (Idem.)

11. Next, the pro­gram access­es an arti­cle that indi­cates that Opus Dei wields a pro­found influ­ence on Bene­dict XVI. His per­son­al secretary—who appears to be some­thing of a gate­keep­er or “gray eminence”—is a teacher at an Opus Dei the­o­log­i­cal col­lege. Georg Gan­swein appears to effec­tive­ly con­trol access to Bene­dict XVI. Note the “Aryan” looks of Gan­swein. Is he “Under­ground Reich”? (For infor­ma­tion indi­cat­ing that Benedict/Ratzinger may very well be Under­ground Reich, see FTR #508 [28]. For an overview of the fascist/Vatican con­nec­tion, see FTR#532 [29].)

“As Bene­dict XVI trun­dled through the nar­row streets of Cologne last week, many of his admir­ers found them­selves dis­tract­ed by the extrav­a­gant­ly hand­some man sit­ting in the back of the Pope­mo­bile. The thou­sands of ador­ing young Catholics had come to Ger­many to get a glimpse of the new Pope, vis­it­ing his native coun­try on his first trip abroad as pon­tiff. But they could­n’t help notic­ing the Pope’s new — and rather dishy — pri­vate sec­re­tary, Mon­sign­or Georg Gän­swein. ‘As he jumped on to the Pope­mo­bile for the first time,’ one Ger­man mag­a­zine remarked, ‘we women held our breath. There, where for the past 27 years the grim and pale Stanis­law Dzi­wisz had sat behind the Pope, a tall, blond, ath­let­ic young man had tak­en his place.’”
(“Thou Shalt Not Drool” by Luke Hard­ing and Bar­bara McMa­hon; The Guardian; 8/23/2005.) [30]

12. “Over the past four months, the Ital­ian press has also swooned over the 49-year-old Ger­man priest, who is known in Italy as Don Geor­gio. In the gray and elder­ly world of the Vat­i­can, it is hard­ly sur­pris­ing that Gän­swein — a keen ten­nis play­er and excel­lent ski­er who even has a pilot’s license — has become the cen­ter of atten­tion. Last month, the Ital­ian edi­tion of Van­i­ty Fair com­pared Gän­swein to the actor George Clooney, while the mag­a­zine Chi opened that he was ‘as fas­ci­nat­ing as Hugh Grant’. The Ital­ian pres­i­den­t’s wife Fran­ca was very tak­en with him when she first met him. ‘He’s very, very young. And he speaks excel­lent Ital­ian,’ she was report­ed as say­ing. Anoth­er woman liv­ing close to the Vat­i­can recent­ly told Ger­many’s ARD TV that Gän­swein was ‘an inter­est­ing man with a deep gaze’, adding: ‘Shame that he is taboo for us women.’” (Idem.)

13. “Some Vat­i­can-watch­ers, how­ev­er, are already mut­ter­ing about Gän­swein’s influ­ence over Pope Bene­dict, the first Ger­man to sit on the chair of St Peter for near­ly 500 years. Born on July 30 1956, Gän­swein grew up in Riedern am Wald, a tiny Bavar­i­an vil­lage. He was ordained in 1984 and is a doc­tor of canon law from Munich Uni­ver­si­ty. He came to Rome in 1995 and was quick­ly on the Vat­i­can fast track. In 1996, the then Car­di­nal Ratzinger asked him to join his staff, and he became a pro­fes­sor of canon law at the Pon­tif­i­cal Uni­ver­si­ty of the Holy Cross, an insti­tu­tion affil­i­at­ed to the secre­tive Catholic move­ment Opus Dei. [Empha­sis added.]” (Idem.)

14. “Those who know him praise his effi­cien­cy and ana­lyt­i­cal abil­i­ty. ‘He under­stands com­pli­cat­ed issues with­in about 10 sec­onds and can give a clear and imme­di­ate answer,’ one Vat­i­can source said. Gän­swein is, though, more than just an impres­sive the­olo­gian. He is, like the man he serves, extreme­ly con­ser­v­a­tive. ‘I think he is very dan­ger­ous,’ Daniel Deck­ers, the author of a biog­ra­phy of Ger­many’s lead­ing lib­er­al car­di­nal, Karl Lehmann, said. ‘He’s part of a small but very pow­er­ful group with­in the Catholic church. He will use his pow­er to push Ratzinger in a cer­tain direc­tion.’ Deck­ers recalls trav­el­ling to Rome to meet Gän­swein. ‘He’s a good guy. He’s very elo­quent and can be very charm­ing. But he came right up to me and said: ‘Oh, you don’t like us.’ He referred to him­self and Ratzinger as ‘us’, as if the two of them were an insti­tu­tion.’” (Idem.)

15. “With Gän­swein as pri­vate sec­re­tary, there seems lit­tle hope that Bene­dict XVI will offer con­ces­sions on issues that alien­ate many from the Catholic church — the use of con­doms, gay rela­tion­ships or pre-mar­i­tal sex. ‘You can for­get it,’ one reli­gious affairs writer said blunt­ly. A trust­ed con­fi­dant of the last Pope, who made him a chap­lain in 2000, Gän­swein has worked as Ratzinger’s sec­re­tary since 2003, and was one of the few aides allowed to give out press state­ments on John Paul’s con­di­tion. In the Vat­i­can, Gän­swein and Ratzinger dine togeth­er, recent­ly enter­tain­ing Princess Glo­ria von Thurn und Taxis, the Ger­man socialite, accord­ing to reports in the Ital­ian press. In Cologne last week, Gän­swein was nev­er far away from his boss — hand­ing the 78-year-old Pope his read­ing glass­es, or trav­el­ing with him on a cruise down the Rhine. He was there, too, when the Pope appeared on a hill beneath a fly­ing saucer-shaped dome, for a vast open-air mass. (In his address to near­ly 1 mil­lion pil­grims who had spent the night camped out in a mud­dy field, the Pope remind­ed the young Catholics that they had to obey all of the church’s rules — not just the bits they liked. ‘That basi­cal­ly means no sex, does­n’t it?’ Ger­man pil­grim Malte Schuburt, 19, point­ed out.)” (Idem.)

16. “Gän­swein’s crit­ics even accuse him of turn­ing the Pope into a fash­ion vic­tim. This sum­mer, Ratzinger and his sec­re­tary went on hol­i­day to the papal res­i­dence at Cas­tel Gan­dol­fo, near Rome, as well as to the Ital­ian Alps at Valle D’Aos­ta. While both men were hik­ing in the hills, the Pope appeared in pub­lic wear­ing a Nike hat, design­er Serengeti sun­glass­es and a Carti­er watch. ‘This is Gän­swein’s style. It’s his hand­writ­ing,’ one reli­gious affairs writer said. ‘This is some­thing I don’t under­stand.’ Gän­swein’s pow­er derives part­ly from his place in the Pope’s very small per­son­al staff. Bene­dic­t’s long-time assis­tant is Ingrid Stam­pa and he has four women — Carmela, Loredana, Emanuela and Cristi­na — who do domes­tic duties. They have tak­en nun’s vows but do not wear habits. Pope Bene­dict writes every­thing in Ger­man in very small script, and Gän­swein is one of the few who can read his writ­ing.” (Idem.)

17. It appears that Gan­swein embod­ies the reac­tionary ide­ol­o­gy of Opus Dei and that he will use his influ­ence with Bene­dict XVI to fur­ther that ide­ol­o­gy.

“So far, Gän­swein does not enjoy the same pow­er as Stanis­law Dzi­wisz, who spent 40 years at Pope John Paul II’s side. Some have even dis­missed him as the ‘Black For­est Ado­nis’. Yet it is Gän­swein who decides who gets to see the Pope, and who does­n’t. [Empha­sis added.] He also pro­tects his boss from the mound of papers on Bene­dic­t’s desk. ‘He is the Pope’s gate­keep­er. This makes him a very pow­er­ful man,’ Deck­ers said. It is not sur­pris­ing, then, that the Pope’s pri­vate sec­re­tary is already begin­ning to inspire dread in lib­er­al Catholic cir­cles. In Ger­many, the Catholic Church is divid­ed more or less between two fig­ures — the lib­er­al-con­ser­v­a­tive Car­di­nal Lehmann, the head of the Ger­man arch­bish­op’s con­fer­ence, and the ultra-con­ser­v­a­tive Car­di­nal Joachim Meis­ner, the Arch­bish­op of Cologne. Both men were with the Pope last week. But it is no secret as to which Bish­op the Vat­i­can favours. ‘Gän­swein is an oppo­nent of Lehmann,’ one source in the Ger­man Catholic Church said. ‘One of Ratzinger’s great weak­ness­es is that his judg­ment of peo­ple isn’t always suf­fi­cient. He has a small out-reach.’ Last week’s papal tour of Ger­many was an undoubt­ed suc­cess for the Bavar­i­an Bene­dict. A far less flam­boy­ant fig­ure than his pre­de­ces­sor, Bene­dict was often embar­rassed by the euphor­ic crowds. But he is a for­mi­da­ble intel­lec­tu­al, able to deliv­er his ideas with flu­en­cy and rig­or in numer­ous lan­guages. The ques­tion remains though — how long will he last? The Pope has already suf­fered two strokes — one of which slight­ly impaired his eye­sight — and he has a heart con­di­tion. Don Geor­gio is said to be very pro­tec­tive of the Pope, par­tic­u­lar­ly about his health. But if there is bad news to trans­mit, it will be Gän­swein, the priest with the film-star looks, who will be there to deliv­er it.” (Idem.)

18. Next, the pro­gram access­es infor­ma­tion about Opus Dei influ­ence on the recent U.S. Sen­ate debate about a Con­sti­tu­tion­al ban on same-sex mar­riage. Opus Dei con­vert Sen­a­tor Sam Brown­back (Repub­li­can from Kansas), intro­duced into Sen­ate debate on same-sex mar­riage some talk­ing points from a paper craft­ed by an Opus Dei affil­i­ate at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty.

“The Unit­ed States Sen­ate is often called ‘the great­est delib­er­a­tive body in the world’ which usu­al­ly rais­es the bar on the tenor and intel­lec­tu­al con­tent of speech­es giv­en on the floor and for the offi­cial record. Not so for Sen­a­tor Sam Brown­back (R‑KS) who took to the Sen­ate floor last week to deliv­er a stri­dent push for the big­ot­ed Mar­riage Pro­tec­tion Amend­ment, with mas­sive dis­tor­tions of the issue and an argu­ment that was based almost sole­ly on the opin­ion of a lit­tle-known, con­ser­v­a­tive think tank affil­i­at­ed with the Roman Catholic orga­ni­za­tion, Opus Dei .”
(“Is Brown­back Bring­ing Opus Dei Into The Sen­ate?” By Bob Geiger.) [31]

19. “‘The prob­lem we have in front of us is the insti­tu­tion of mar­riage has been weak­ened, and the effort to rede­fine it on this vast social exper­i­ment that we have going on, redefin­ing mar­riage dif­fer­ent­ly than it has ever been defined before,’ the Kansas Sen­a­tor grim­ly intoned last week. ‘This effort of this vast social exper­i­ment, the ear­ly data that we see from oth­er places, harms the insti­tu­tion of the fam­i­ly, the rais­ing of the next gen­er­a­tion. And it is harm­ful to the future of the Repub­lic.’ Brown­back then went on to give fig­ures for how var­i­ous states have shown their hatred of gay peo­ple with their own pro­hi­bi­tions on same-sex mar­riage and used that as his ratio­nale for a sim­i­lar amend­ment to the U.S. Con­sti­tu­tion. But Brown­back real­ly hit his stride when he described a paper, called ‘Ten Prin­ci­ples on Mar­riage and the Pub­lic Good,’ [32] pub­lished by a fair­ly new and extreme­ly con­ser­v­a­tive group at Prince­ton Uni­ver­si­ty. Accord­ing to Brown­back, the paper is an ‘… impor­tant state­ment of prin­ci­ples from top Amer­i­can schol­ars [to] be con­sid­ered care­ful­ly by my col­leagues.’ He then added that the sen­ti­ments expressed in the non-sci­en­tif­ic trea­tise were so vital to our nation­al dia­log that they should ‘. . . help guide our debate on this issue.’ The paper, spon­sored by the With­er­spoon Insti­tute at Prince­ton, makes a case for ban­ning same-sex mar­riage alto­geth­er. What’s extra­or­di­nary, is the idea of a Unit­ed States Sen­a­tor attempt­ing to sway opin­ion on an amend­ment that would have altered our Con­sti­tu­tion (had it not been defeat­ed last Wednes­day) by using a paper from an orga­ni­za­tion linked to Opus Dei, a strict, reli­gious group that some for­mer mem­bers have described as a cult.’” (Idem.)

20. Brown­back accessed infor­ma­tion from a paper issued by the With­er­spoon Insti­tute, whose pres­i­dent (Luis Tellez) is the head of Opus Dei at Prince­ton. “Brown­back spent a good part of his lengthy Sen­ate speech last week cit­ing the study and attribut­ing it to ‘this Prince­ton group of schol­ars’ while nev­er men­tion­ing that all of the find­ings were based on the ultra­con­ser­v­a­tive With­er­spoon Insti­tute bol­stered by the involve­ment — direct­ly or indi­rect­ly — of a non­prof­it, tax-exempt reli­gious orga­ni­za­tion in Opus Dei. So what exact­ly is the With­er­spoon Insti­tute, whose paper formed the foun­da­tion of Brown­back­’s anti-gay argu­ment? The Insti­tute, which has only been around since 2003, has close ties to Tony Perkins and the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil [33], but is also tight­ly aligned with Opus Dei. Indeed, Luis Tellez, the pres­i­dent of the With­er­spoon Insti­tute [34] is also the direc­tor and lead cler­ic of Opus Dei in Prince­ton. Since its found­ing in 1928, Opus Dei has been known for its tra­di­tion­al­ist val­ues and right-wing polit­i­cal stances. And crit­ics in acad­e­mia — which include for­mer mem­bers who some­times go through ‘depro­gram­ming’ upon exit­ing Opus Dei — charge that orga­ni­za­tions like the With­er­spoon Insti­tute are just veiled attempts by Opus Dei to spread its influ­ence in top-tier aca­d­e­m­ic cir­cles. So why then, is a U.S. Sen­a­tor offer­ing to Con­gress ‘research’ linked to Opus Dei on some­thing as vital as amend­ing the Con­sti­tu­tion? It turns out that Brown­back, who was for­mer­ly an evan­gel­i­cal Protes­tant, con­vert­ed to Catholi­cism by way of Opus Dei [35] in 2002 and was spon­sored in that con­ver­sion by Sen­a­tor Rick San­to­rum (R‑PA), a vocal Opus Dei advo­cate.” (Idem.)

21. Tellez–the head of Opus Dei at Princeton—is among that reac­tionary organization’s most con­ser­v­a­tive mem­bers.

“Tellez, the leader of Opus Dei in Prince­ton, is a ‘numer­ary,’ con­sid­ered the most con­ser­v­a­tive of the sec­t’s mem­bers — they are unmar­ried, celi­bate, devote every aspect of their lives to their spir­i­tu­al beliefs and turn over their salaries from sec­u­lar jobs to Opus Dei. Again, it bears repeat­ing that Tellez is also the head of the With­er­spoon Insti­tute, the group Brown­back cit­ed at great length as his pri­ma­ry argu­ment against gay mar­riage. And remem­ber also, it is Brown­back, as an Opus Dei con­vert, who also leads the charge on Capi­tol Hill against abor­tion and stem cell research and who, along with San­to­rum, is seen by the Reli­gious Right’s as a point man on ‘cul­ture war’ issues. The oth­er cen­tral fig­ure in the With­er­spoon orbit is Dr. Robert George, a Prince­ton pro­fes­sor and a board mem­ber in the Insti­tute who, not coin­ci­den­tal­ly, helped draft the fed­er­al gay-mar­riage ban [36] that was just defeat­ed in the Sen­ate. George chaired a meet­ing of reli­gious lead­ers in late 2005, which includ­ed Dr. James Dob­son and oth­er mem­bers of the extreme Reli­gious Right. In fact, in addi­tion to his piv­otal role in the With­er­spoon Insti­tute, George is also a board mem­ber at Perkins’ Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil [37], a group known for its big­ot­ed posi­tions on the gay com­mu­ni­ty. And, via Brown­back, all of this is ulti­mate­ly find­ing its way into the halls of Con­gress.” (Idem.)

22. “While it may not be tech­ni­cal­ly ille­gal for Brown­back to be so clear­ly mix­ing hard-right reli­gious ide­ol­o­gy — and faux-aca­d­e­m­ic papers pro­mot­ed by reli­gious orga­ni­za­tions like Opus Dei — with debate on the Sen­ate floor, it should cer­tain­ly raise some eye­brows. In a coun­try where strict sep­a­ra­tion of church and state is man­dat­ed, it seems Brown­back is freely blend­ing the two, attempt­ing to use reli­gious dog­ma to influ­ence pub­lic pol­i­cy — all the while not dis­clos­ing to his Sen­ate col­leagues the back­ground sources of the research he is cit­ing. But this should not be sur­pris­ing com­ing from Brown­back. In a Jan­u­ary 2006 Rolling Stone arti­cle, ‘God’s Sen­a­tor,’ Brown­back is described as a reli­gious zealot with a view for Amer­i­ca’s future that could almost be described as medieval. ‘In his dream Amer­i­ca, the one he believes both the Bible and the Con­sti­tu­tion promise, the state will sim­ply with­er away. In its place will be a coun­try so suf­fused with God and the free mar­ket that the social fab­ric of the last hun­dred years — schools, Social Secu­ri­ty, wel­fare — will be pri­va­tized or sim­ply done away with,’ reads the arti­cle. ‘There will be no abor­tions; sex will be con­fined to het­ero­sex­u­al mar­riage. Men will lead fam­i­lies, moth­ers will tend chil­dren, and big busi­ness and the church will take care of all.’ After all, it was Brown­back, who came to Con­gress in 1994 and refused to sign Newt Gin­grich’s ‘Con­tract With Amer­i­ca’ because he felt it was­n’t con­ser­v­a­tive enough. Even then, as a new­com­er to the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives, Brown­back believed that the vast major­i­ty of what he saw as Big Gov­ern­ment should sim­ply be elim­i­nat­ed, includ­ing the depart­ments of edu­ca­tion, ener­gy and com­merce.” (Idem.)

23. Opus Dei con­vert Brown­back has been lead­ing the charge on “fam­i­ly val­ues” in the Sen­ate.

“And, yes, it was also Brown­back who was so out­raged at the split-sec­ond glimpse of Janet Jack­son’s nip­ple dur­ing the 2004 Super Bowl, that he intro­duced the Broad­cast Decen­cy Enforce­ment Act, which sub­stan­tial­ly raised fines for such sim­ple on-air dis­plays of nudi­ty. Final­ly, in addi­tion to being brought into Catholi­cism by the likes of Opus Dei and using laun­dered research by an affil­i­at­ed group on the Sen­ate floor, Brown­back chairs a meet­ing every Tues­day night with the ‘Val­ues Action Team,’ con­sist­ing of reli­gious lead­ers like Dob­son who help the Sen­a­tor for­mu­late his thoughts on pub­lic pol­i­cy issues. Accord­ing to Time mag­a­zine , Opus Dei has assets in the neigh­bor­hood of $2.8 bil­lion and, with John McCain unlike­ly to sig­nif­i­cant­ly rouse the Reli­gious Right in 2008, look for Brown­back to be the guy that Opus Dei, Focus on the Fam­i­ly and the Fam­i­ly Research Coun­cil turn to as their pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. . . .” (Idem.)

24. Updat­ing a sto­ry Mr. Emory has cov­ered for more than two decades, the pro­gram notes that P‑2 Lodge grand mas­ter Licio Gel­li has been indict­ed for the mur­der of Rober­to Calvi, the head of the Ban­co Ambrosiano. For more about the P‑2 Lodge, the Vat­i­can bank­ing scan­dals and the Vatican/fascist con­nec­tion, use the search func­tion on this page, tak­ing par­tic­u­lar note of AFA#’s 17–21 [6]—avail­able from Spitfire—as well as FTR#’s 504 [38], 508 [28].) In para­graph , we not­ed the alleged role of Opus Dei in the Ban­co Ambrosiano scan­dal.

What influ­ence might Gelli’s tes­ti­mo­ny have had on sub­se­quent events? Might the res­ur­rec­tion of the Bul­gar­i­an hypoth­e­sis have had some­thing to do with Gelli’s tes­ti­mo­ny? (The Bul­gar­i­an hypothesis—long dis­cred­it­ed but res­ur­rect­ed in Italy and Poland ear­li­er this year—alleges that the Sovi­et Union had the pope shot, in order to negate his activism on behalf of the Sol­i­dar­i­ty Union in Poland.)

“Mag­is­trates inves­ti­gat­ing the death of the Ital­ian banker Rober­to Calvi under Black­fri­ars Bridge in Lon­don in 1982 are focus­ing on Licio Gel­li the for­mer ‘grand mas­ter’ of the ille­gal P2 Mason­ic lodge that plot­ted against Ital­ian democ­ra­cy in the 1970s. Mr Gel­li denies he was involved but has acknowl­edged that the financier, known as ‘God’s banker’ because of his links with the Vat­i­can, was mur­dered. He said the killing was com­mis­sioned in Poland.”
(“Mason Indict­ed over Mur­der of ‘God’s Banker’” By John Phillips; The Inde­pen­dent; 7/22/05.) [39]

25. In the after­math of Gelli’s tes­ti­mo­ny about the Ban­co Ambrosiano scan­dal, Mehmet Ali Agca—convicted would-be assas­sin of the Pope –was released from prison. Agca was a mem­ber of the Pan-Turk­ist fas­cist group the Grey Wolves. (For more about the fas­cist influ­ence on the Pan-Turk­ist move­ment, see FTR#549 [40].) “After 25 years behind bars for try­ing to assas­si­nate Pope John Paul II and fatal­ly gun­ning down a jour­nal­ist, Mehmet Ali Agca was released from prison — and prompt­ly gave his sup­port­ers and his ene­mies the slip. With­in hours of tast­ing free­dom Thurs­day for the first time since wound­ing John Paul in 1981, Agca dis­ap­peared out the back door of a mil­i­tary hos­pi­tal. He left behind hordes of jour­nal­ists, along with ques­tions about whether he will be forced to com­plete the manda­to­ry mil­i­tary ser­vice he dodged as a young man. Scores of ultra­na­tion­al­ist right-wing sup­port­ers cheered his release and tossed flow­ers at the sedan that whisked him through the gates of a high-secu­ri­ty prison. But many Turks expressed dis­may that Agca, 48, served just five years for the slay­ing of news­pa­per colum­nist Abdi Ipekci in 1979, dur­ing a time of street vio­lence between right­ists and left­ists. Jus­tice Min­is­ter Cemil Cicek ordered a review to see whether any errors were com­mit­ted in releas­ing him. He said Agca would remain free until an appeals court reviewed the case. ‘If there is an error, that would dam­age Turkey’s image’ as the nation push­es to join the Euro­pean Union, said Ilter Turan, a polit­i­cal sci­en­tist at Istan­bul’s Bil­gi Uni­ver­si­ty.”
(“Turk Who Shot Pope John Paul II is Released from Prison” [AP] 1/12/2006.) [41]

26. “‘Day of shame,’ head­lined the dai­ly Mil­liyet, Ipekci’s news­pa­per. Cicek said Agca’s release was not ‘a guar­an­teed right,’ not­ing there have been sev­er­al cas­es in which con­victs freed by mis­take were returned to prison. He said Agca ben­e­fit­ed from amnesties, passed by pre­vi­ous gov­ern­ments, which have freed tens of thou­sands of crim­i­nals over the past decades. Agca, white-haired and wear­ing a bright blue sweater and jeans, was freed five years after he was par­doned by Italy and extra­dit­ed to Turkey. He had served 20 years in Italy, where John Paul for­gave him in a vis­it to his prison cell in 1983. . . .” (Idem.)

27. Short­ly after Agca’s release from prison, an Ital­ian par­lia­men­tary body endorsed the long-dis­cred­it­ed Bul­gar­i­an hypoth­e­sis. Note that the com­mis­sion was head­ed by an ally of Ital­ian Prime Min­is­ter Sil­vio Berlus­coni. Berlus­coni was a for­mer mem­ber of the P‑2 Lodge, head­ed by Licio Gel­li.

“It has per­sist­ed as one of the most mys­te­ri­ous cas­es of inter­na­tion­al intrigue in recent times: Who shot the pope? A com­mit­tee of Italy’s Par­lia­ment inves­ti­gat­ing the 1981 attempt to assas­si­nate John Paul II released its con­clu­sion Thurs­day that ‘beyond any rea­son­able doubt’ the Sovi­et Union ordered the attack that seri­ous­ly wound­ed the pope as he greet­ed crowds in St. Peter’s Square. The Turk­ish gun­man, Mehmet Ali Agca, was long ago con­demned in the shoot­ing and served 19 years in jail. But for whom he worked has nev­er been def­i­nite­ly estab­lished. His own con­fes­sions have been all over the map; he has var­i­ous­ly impli­cat­ed the Sovi­ets, the Bul­gar­i­ans and oth­ers.”
(“Sovi­ets Behind Pope’s Shoot­ing, Italy Pan­el Says” by Tra­cy Wilkin­son; Los Ange­les Times; 3/3/2006.)

28. “Rumors about the intel­lec­tu­al authors of the attack have cir­cu­lat­ed for years, but pin­ning it direct­ly and final­ly on the Sovi­et Union would be a first. Sen. Pao­lo Guz­zan­ti, pres­i­dent of the par­lia­men­tary com­mit­tee, told reporters that the Sovi­et mil­i­tary intel­li­gence agency, the GRU, ‘took the ini­tia­tive to elim­i­nate’ the pope. Accord­ing to Ital­ian media, the report says the Sovi­ets had decid­ed that Jon Paul, a fer­vent anti-com­mu­nist, had become dan­ger­ous in his out­spo­ken sup­port for the Sol­i­dar­i­ty protest move­ment in his native Poland. Solidarity’s activ­i­ties even­tu­al­ly helped pre­cip­i­tate the fall of com­mu­nism there in 1989. In those Cold War years of intrigue and decep­tion, the shoot­ing of the pope was tan­gled in a web of secret agents, proxy gun­men and the life-or-death strug­gle who would dom­i­nate the world.” (Idem.)

29. It is alleged that the inter­ro­ga­tion of Car­los the Jack­al yield­ed some infor­ma­tion about the shoot­ing of the Pope. Car­los the Jackal—as dis­cussed in FTR#453 [42]—is a pro­tégé of Nazi oper­a­tive Fran­cois Genoud. Might the far right have influ­enced this res­ur­rec­tion of the Bul­gar­i­an hypoth­e­sis, uti­liz­ing the milieu of Car­los? (Genoud died in 1996.) Note also that the head of this commission—Mr. Guzzanti—is a polit­i­cal ally of for­mer P‑2 mem­ber Sil­vio Berlus­coni.

“Com­mit­tee staff mem­bers said the report was based on evi­dence pre­sent­ed at a host of Ital­ian tri­als through the years con­nect­ed with the shoot­ing, includ­ing one that probed the Turk­ish mafia and anoth­er the pur­port­ed involve­ment of the Bul­gar­i­an secret ser­vice. In addi­tion, France’s not­ed anti-ter­ror­ism judge, Jean-Louis Bruguiere, report­ed­ly shared evi­dence with the Ital­ians that sprang from the pros­e­cu­tion of Ilich Ramirez Sanchez, alias Car­los the Jack­al, the noto­ri­ous ter­ror­ist held in France since his cap­ture in Africa in 1994. . . . Guz­zan­ti, a mem­ber of Prime Min­is­ter Sil­vio Berlusconi’s right-wing Forza Italia (Go, Italy) par­ty, said he launched the new inves­ti­ga­tion after John Paul’s last book before his death spoke of the assas­si­na­tion attempt and his con­vic­tion that some­one beyond Agca had ‘mas­ter­mind­ed and com­mis­sioned’ the attack. [Empha­sis added.]” (Idem.)

30. Short­ly after the Ital­ian inves­ti­ga­tion, a Pol­ish inquiry head­ed in the same direc­tion. Again, what influ­ence might Licio Gelli’s tes­ti­mo­ny have had on the res­ur­rec­tion of the Bul­gar­i­an hypoth­e­sis? What might Gel­li –dubbed the “Pup­pet Mas­ter” by the Ital­ian media—have dis­closed or threat­ened to dis­close? If any­one could be said to know “where the bod­ies are buried”—literally in this case—it is Gel­li.

“Inves­ti­ga­tors in Poland said Mon­day they have opened an inquiry into a sus­pect­ed plot behind an assas­si­na­tion attempt on late Pol­ish-born Pope John Paul II in 1981. ‘The inquiry is not into the attack itself but into a plot by com­mu­nist (secret) ser­vices,’ said Ewa Koj of Poland’s Nation­al Remem­brance Insti­tute (IPN), which is charged with pros­e­cut­ing Com­mu­nist and Nazi crimes. Koj, head of the IPN’s inves­tiga­tive depart­ment in the south­ern city of Katow­ice, told the PAP news agency the inquiry aimed to probe sus­pect­ed involve­ment by sev­er­al coun­tries in plan­ning the assas­si­na­tion attempt on the pope. The IPN has pre­vi­ous­ly said that it does not have direct proof that Pol­ish Com­mu­nist-era secret police took part in the attack. Charges that the Sovi­et Union and then-com­mu­nist Bul­gar­ia orga­nized the attack over John Paul’s sup­port for the Sol­i­dar­i­ty trade union move­ment in his native Poland were nev­er proved. In March, the head of an Ital­ian par­lia­men­tary com­mis­sion accused lead­ers of the for­mer Sovi­et Union of order­ing the assas­si­na­tion bid.”
(“Poland Opens Inquiry into 1981 John Paul II Death Plot”; TurkishPress.com; 6/12/2006.)