Vatican Influence on the U.S. Presidency

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH | 17 September 2015
Church and State

In little more than a week, Pope Francis is coming to the United States. Thousands of people are reportedly planning to attend his various masses and events, which include meeting with President Barack Obama, addressing a joint session of Congress, and speaking before the United Nations in New York City. (Credit: Ivan Cholakov /

Excerpt from Chapter 16 of our Chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s book, The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (1996). The book is available at Kindle here and to read for free here.

Many Americans are victims of the illusion, carefully crafted, that the Catholic bishops have no significant influence on American presidents. No doubt the degree of influence differs from one president to the next. But they all feel and respond to this influence.

The National Catholic Reporter, a major national Catholic weekly newspaper, published a most revealing report in its December 29, 1989 issue. Doug Wead, special assistant to President Bush, was interviewed and quoted as saying: “He [President Bush] has been more sensitive and more accessible to the needs of the Catholic Church than any president I know of in American history.” Wead indicated he felt that Bush’s relationship with the American Catholic leadership was much closer than Reagan’s had been: “We want the Church to feel loved and wanted, and we want them to have input.” This relationship was maintained through five U.S. cardinals: Bernard Law, Joseph Bernardin, Edmund Szoka, John O’Connor, and James Hickey.

Within a month after Bush became president, all five of the cardinals had been included in meetings in the Bush family quarters. Both Law and O’Conner spent at least one overnight at the White House as guests of the president. “This has been a Catholic year,” said Wead. “This administration has appointed more Catholic cabinet officers than any other in American history.”

I think many Americans would be surprised to learn of this cozy relationship. It was never mentioned in the secular press—and we were left with another illusion.

However, the relationship between the Catholic Church and President Reagan is much more revealing, as described by Carl Bernstein in the cover story of the February 24, 1992 issue of TIME magazine, with the title: “Holy Alliance: How Reagan and the Pope Conspired to Assist Poland’s Solidarity Movement and Hasten the Demise of Communism.” The agenda of the Church is far more obvious. In Chapter 7, excerpts appear from Bernstein’s article regarding the Reagan Administration’s adoption of the Vatican’s position on birth control and abortion in U.S. foreign aid programs.

“The Catholic Team” as Bernstein described it, wielded enormous power. Bernstein reports, “The key administration players were all devout Roman Catholics—CIA chief William Casey, Allen, Clark, Haig, Walters, and William Wilson, Reagan’s first ambassador to the Vatican. They regarded the U.S.-Vatican relationship as a holy alliance: the moral force of the pope and the teachings of their church combined with … their notion of American democracy.” Protestants in the Reagan Administration were apparently unaware or unconcerned about this far-reaching maneuver. Or they simply felt there was nothing they could do about it.

Bernstein quotes Protestant Robert McFarlane, who served as a deputy to both Clark and Haig and later as National Security Advisor to the President: “I knew that they were meeting with [Vatican ambassador to the U.S.] Pio Laghi, and that Laghi had been to see the President, but Clark would never tell me what the substance of the discussions was.” “The Catholic Team” did not include Protestants. If this was truly an American operation with strictly American interests at stake, why weren’t Protestant Americans represented too? What was being hidden?

Reagan and the pope undermined and seized control of the Polish government because the Polish government seriously threatened papal security interests in Poland when that country outlawed Solidarity in 1981. Regarding direction of their operation to overthrow the Polish government, Bernstein quotes Laghi: “But I told Vernon [Vernon Walters, American ambassador to the U.N.], ‘Listen to the Holy Father. We have 2,000 years of experience at this.’”

Laghi seemed to take great pleasure from the fact that the Papacy has had 20 centuries of experience in overthrowing governments. This suggests that the Vatican would stop at nothing to defend its own interests. One must read the lengthy article in TIME to fully appreciate the enormity of what took place, much of it illegal.

What would prevent the Vatican from putting together a team of “devout Roman Catholics,” as Bernstein called them, to protect Papal security interests at the expense of U.S. security interests—if a conflict of security interests did arise? Nothing. Because that is exactly what happened.

Simple logic suggests that “The Catholic Team” was well aware of NSSM 200. Vernon Walters was the deputy director of the CIA and Alexander Haig was President Nixon’s Chief of Staff when NSSM 200 was being researched and written. The Catholic Team knew that NSSM 200 had clearly determined that overpopulation gravely threatened U.S. and global security. Yet they chose to protect Papal security interests fully knowing that they were gravely undermining U.S. security. Should this behavior not be considered treasonous? Meanwhile, patriotic Americans assumed that the Reagan Administration was concerned about all aspects of U.S. security.

Bernstein’s TIME article shows that the pope overthrew the Polish government to protect Papal security, after putting together a secret Catholic team (which excluded non-Catholics) within our government. Why would he not be prepared to assemble another “Catholic Team” to overthrow the U.S. government to further protect Papal security interests? This is a vital question to ponder.

Dr. Stephen Mumford is the founder and President of the North Carolina-based Center for Research on Population and Security. He has his doctorate in Public Health. His principal research interest has been the relationship between world population growth and national and global security. He has been called to provide expert testimony before the U.S. Congress on the implications of world population growth.

Dr. Mumford has decades of international experience in fertility research where he is widely published, and has addressed conferences worldwide on new contraceptive technologies and the stresses to the security of families, societies and nations that are created by continued uncontrolled population growth. Using church policy documents and writings of the Vatican elite, he has introduced research showing the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church as the principal power behind efforts to block the availability of contraceptive services worldwide.

In addition to his books on biomedical and social aspects of family planning, as well as scientific articles in more than a score of journals, Dr. Mumford’s major works include American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (Amherst, New York: Humanist Press, 1984), The Pope and the New Apocalypse: The Holy War Against Family Planning (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1986), and The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy (Research Triangle Park, North Carolina: Center for Research on Population and Security, 1996).

The Life and Death of NSSM 200: How the Destruction of Political Will Doomed a U.S. Population Policy

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH
Paperback Publisher: Center for Research on Population and Security (October 1996)
Kindle Publisher: Church and State Press (February 6, 2015)
Kindle Store

During the formative years of the World Health Organization (WHO), broad consensus existed among United Nations member countries that overpopulation is a grave public health threat and would be a major cause of preventable death not too far in the future. One of the founding fathers of the WHO, the late Milton P. Siegel, speaks to Dr. Mumford in 1992. He explains how the Vatican successfully stymied the incorporation of family planning and birth control into official WHO policy. This video is available for public viewing for the first time. Read the full transcript of the interview here.

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