The Catholic Church and Divisiveness in America

By Stephen D. Mumford, DrPH | 27 May 2017
Church and State

(Credit: Anton_Ivanov /

This excerpt has been adapted from Chapter 10 of our Chairman Dr. Stephen D. Mumford’s book, American Democracy and the Vatican: Population Growth and National Security (1984). The book is available at Kindle here and to read for free here.

The Church and Divisiveness in America

Because the Catholic Church ignores the principle of separation of church and state, it is the most divisive force in America. The March 19, 1984, issue of U.S. News and World Report examined two secret Catholic elite religious societies in this country: the Knights of Malta with one thousand U.S. members who are prominent in government, business, or professional life and Opus Dei with three thousand members of widely varied backgrounds. The Knights of Malta organiza­tion dates back to the time of the Crusades; its members include some of our nation’s most prominent Catholics: CIA Director William Casey; William Wilson; Vernon Walters; Senators Denton and Domenici; Alexander Haig; William Sloan; and William F. Buckley, creator and leader of Young Americans for Freedom, from which a large proportion of the Reagan administration team were drawn. Because many Knights and recipients of the Order’s honors have worked in or around the CIA, critics sometimes suggest a link between the two. The CIA has been dominated by the Catholic hierarchy.

According to members, the order serves “as an international defend­er of the Church.”[7] In June of each year a ceremony is held in Rome for Knights of Malta which includes the “swearing of allegiance to the defense of the Holy Mother Church.”[8] Herein lies the problem for population growth control and its recognition as a national security issue. Population growth control seriously threatens the survival of the Vatican, as discussed in chapters one and four. Knights are committed to defending the Church. Only the most devout and obedient are invited to join the Knights and Opus Dei (which its detractors have compared to mind-controlling cults).[9] If the Vatican has determined that population growth control threatens the Holy Mother Church, the members of these societies are obliged to counter this threat by thwarting the development of population growth control government policies and their execution. It is inevitable that the best interests of the Vatican and those of the United States are not always going to be the same. For this reason, no one can possibly swear complete alle­giance to both and mean it. The acts and attitudes of the Knights of Malta in the Reagan administration seem to reflect this complete allegiance to the Catholic Church rather than to our country.

This deep conflict has serious ramifications for population growth control. As long as it exists, it is not possible to effectively deal with the population problem. The real population problem is not convincing people that they must have small families or delivering the family planning services to them. This we can most certainly achieve in just ten years for 95 percent of the world’s population and at a price we can afford. The real population problem is this conflict between the needs of the Church and the desperate needs of humanity to control its proliferation.

Consider the intensity of the commitment of these secret society members as “international defenders of the Church.” It is hardly a secret that one of the most important American advances in “defend­ing the Church” by Catholic elitists was the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The activities of the CIA go far beyond intelligence gathering of an international nature.[10] The CIA serves as an agency through which secret “assistance” to the Holy Mother Church can be provided by secret American society members acting as her defenders:

During the CIA’s formative years, Protestants predominated…. Somehow, however, Catholics wrested control of the CIA’s covert-action section. It was no coincidence that some of the agency’s more grandiose operations were in Catholic countries of Latin America and the Catholic regime of South Vietnam.[11]

For creating the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the wartime predecessor to the CIA, and this special arrangement with the Vatican,

General William “Wild Bill” Donovan was decorated in July 1944 by Pope Pius XII with the Grand Cross of the Order of Saint Sylvester, the oldest and most prestigious of papal knighthoods. This award has been given to only one hundred other men in history, who, “by feat of arms or writings or outstanding deeds have spread the faith and have safeguarded and championed the Church.”[12]

Donovan did more to safeguard and champion the Church than any other American, and he was rewarded for his services with the highest Catholic award ever received by an American. No doubt, thousands of others have striven with their deeds for similar recognition.

What has this meant in terms of the issues cited in Table I? Communism is the greatest threat faced by the Church. The Catholic Church and communism cannot coexist. They are both rival absolut­ists. Both indoctrinate their children so as to ensure complete rejec­tion of the other. Columnist Robert Blair Kaiser who covered the Vati­can for Time magazine had a conversation with Pope John XXIII in August 1962. “For too long, he [the pope] said, the Church had been waging a so-called holy war against the forces of communism. That was getting us nowhere.”[13] This holy war continues in Central America today!


It is believed by some historians that the reason the Vatican aided Hitler in his rise to power was so that he could destroy Russian commu­nism. When this failed, the Vatican through its defenders called upon the United States to stop the spread of Russian communism in Europe and elsewhere. A Vatican-inspired hate campaign against the Rus­sians, the greatest hate campaign ever endured by Americans, was launched. To this day, like most other Americans, I am a victim of this campaign launched during my childhood.

In August 1984, President Reagan showed his intense hatred of the Russian people in his infamous radio microphone test, “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that would outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.” No doubt, this Vatican-inspired hate campaign has influenced Mr. Reagan.

By this theory, at a cost of hundreds of billions of American dollars, we built a war machine for the protection of Catholicism. For this same reason have we built a nuclear arsenal powerful enough to destroy the world five times over and have we seen the Russians match it? This is, I feel, in great part the origin of the other great threat to civilization—nuclear war. Hundreds of millions of dollars were spent to protect Catholicism from communism, and one can only conjecture about the ways in which the world would have been different if this money had been spent differently and if the first requests to the World Health Organization by India for population growth control assistance had not been blocked by the Vatican thirty-four years ago.

Our commitment to saving the Catholic government in South Vietnam from communism (only 5 percent of the people of South Vietnam were Catholic, [14] causing some observers to refer to it as a Vatican colony) can be thought of as a result of the activities of the “U.S. Catholic defenders of the Church,” largely members of the CIA. The French provided this same service to the Vatican for eighty years before they gave up on the holy war in Vietnam.[15]

A number of issues cited in Table I, including U.S. military sup­port for El Salvador and other Central American governments, the Grenada invasion, and maintaining the status quo in Latin America can be seen as Vatican-inspired actions to prop up Catholic (Vatican-dominated) governments against popular uprisings. They are the “holy wars against communism” mentioned by Pope John XXIII. During a May 1984 fundraising visit to New York, the archbishop of Managua, Nicaragua, Miguel Obando y Bravo, said his campaign represented the best-organized opposition in Nicaragua to popular Sandinista govern­ment efforts.[16]

Another example is Lebanon. Most Americans are not aware of the closeness of the Gemayel government to the Vatican. “Maronite Christians,” a minority group in Lebanon, are the Eastern Catholic Church. “The Maronites are in communion with Rome and have a college for the education of their clergy in Rome. In the year 1181, at the time of the Crusades, the Maronites…made peace with Rome and became attached to the Holy See.”[17] Gemayel, like his politician father, was Jesuit trained in a Catholic university.[18] The Vatican wishes to see the Maronites continue to be the dominant power in Lebanon so that the only country in the Middle East in the Vatican sphere of influence will remain so. In all of these cases the Vatican, to maintain and expand its geographical control, seems to be calling upon the services of the U.S. Defense Department to serve as an instrument of Vatican foreign policy in much the same way it has in Cold War Europe.

My purpose in presenting this brief discussion of selected foreign policy initiatives of the Vatican is to show the lengths to which “defenders of the Church” in the Reagan administration are willing to go in order to “safeguard” the Church. To these “defenders,” Viet­nam, El Salvador, Grenada, and Lebanon are viewed in part as “holy wars for the preservation of the Church.” They are unquestionably willing to go to similar lengths to protect the Church from population growth control activities.

(Credit: Yavuz Sariyildiz /

Population scientists, field workers, and, more importantly, jour­nalists must acknowledge the magnitude of this obstacle to solving the population problem and deal with this problem in its entirety—and without delay.

In the meantime, the Vatican is enhancing its political power through generating domestic divisiveness. The abortion issue is clearly the most important to the Church and one of the most contentious issues in American history. It has allowed the Church to mobilize (under the guise of an emotional or “moral” issue) many Catholics, though a minority of those in this country, for political purposes. But it has also given the Church the opportunity to mobilize a large number of non-Catholics, mostly Protestant fundamentalists, to serve the needs of the Vatican.

Just after the Reagan administration announced the radical change in U.S. population assistance policy, Senator Bradley of New Jersey sent out a press release dated August 8, 1984. He sharply con­demned the Reagan administration policy change in the name of abor­tion restriction. “I cannot comprehend the logic of this new policy. It is not about abortion. What the policy is about is denying support for family planning services…. The administration’s new policy will do a great deal to suppress family planning efforts . . .”[19] (emphasis added). The Vatican’s real target here was family planning, and it expects Americans to be fooled by its strategy. Most Protestant fundamentalists have no problem with family planning, but they have been used here by the Vatican to accomplish Vatican goals.

Few fundamentalists are opposed to family planning, international population assistance, or illegal immigration control. Yet the Vatican uses its “Moral Majority” and the political force of the fundamentalists to undermine family planning, international population assistance, and illegal immigration control through this organization of lobbyists.

Federal aid to public education has always been opposed by the Church. Between 1925 and 1945, it was blocked by the Catholic lobby[20] because it enhances the disparity between Catholic education and public education and shifts some decision-making to the federal level where it is less susceptible to Church influence than at the local level. The Vatican is opposed to the United Nations and its agencies because it sees them as a competitor for the role of international arbitrator and peacemaker. Parochial school aid is viewed by the Church as vitally important. Only 30 percent[21] (about three million[22]) of Catholic children attend Catholic schools. While these schools produce enough obedient Catholics to advance the Vatican agenda, tripling this proportion would substantially enhance the power of the Church. School prayer is important because, the more religious the public schools are made, the easier it is to justify government assist­ance to parochial schools. Other issues appearing in Table I have been discussed elsewhere in this text and need not be dealt with here.

What is important is that the Church picks up non-Catholic sup­port on each of these issues. For example, non-Catholic private school parents who send their children to nonreligious schools support the Church’s political initiatives because they stand to gain from them. The Vatican has elevated fundamentalist leader Jerry Falwell to a posi­tion of power and status of which he never dreamed. He is enabled to have frequent meetings with President Reagan and given an oppor­tunity to be one of the nation’s foremost “moral leaders,” delivering “Moral State of the Union” speeches on nationwide prime-time telecasts. In return, Falwell provides the Church with a constituency of millions of fundamentalists to mask as a “Christian” effort the Vatican’s lobbying effort against abortion, the Equal Rights Amend­ment, family planning, and population assistance issues.

The Vatican’s extensive intrusion into American policy-making is causing considerable national divisiveness. The Vatican gains con­siderable political advantage from its allies among non-Catholics and uses it to heavily influence government policy (or to thwart the mak­ing of policy altogether in some areas). Their manipulation has frus­trated mobilization in this country to deal with the nation’s most press­ing problems, such as population growth control, nuclear disarma­ment, illegal immigration control, environmental degradation, includ­ing the pollution of our nation’s waters and soil, soil erosion, and the “greenhouse effect.” Our country is finding itself in a position similar to those in Latin America which are literally being buried under their problems because their national interests sometimes differ from Vatican interests.


[7] J. Mann and K. Phillips, “Inside Look at those Elite Religious Groups,” U.S. News and World Report (March 19, 1984), p. 60.
[8] M. A. Lee, “Their Will Be Done,” Mother Jones (July 1983), p. 22.
[9] Mann and Phillips, “Inside Look,” p. 60.
[10] D. van Atta, “God and Man at the CIA,” Church and State (1984), 37:2:13.
[11] Ibid.
[12] Lee, “Their Will Be Done,” p. 21.
[13] R. B. Kaiser, “Unholy Wars in the Name of God,” U.S.A. Today (August 23, 1984), p. 4A.
[14] J. McBeth, “The Church Clandestine,” Far Eastern Economic Review (July 14, 1983), p. 34.
[15] Edd Doerr, “Will Religious Liberty Survive the 1980s?” Religious Humanism (Spring 1984), p. 53.
[16] P. Taubman, “Archbishop Leads Campaign Against Sandinistas,” Raleigh News and Observer (August 1, 1984), p. lA.
[17] R. C. Brodnick, The Catholic Encyclopedia (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1976).
[18] The International Who’s Who (1984).
[19] B. Bradley, “International Conference on Population,” press release (August 8, 1984), p. 3.
[20] P. Blanshard, American Freedom and Catholic Power (Boston: The Beacon Press, 1950), p. 259.
[21] Editor’s note. Church and State (1983), 36:7:23.
[22] “Catholic, Lutheran School Enrollment Up,” Church and State (1982), 35:7:20.

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).

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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