DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     October 13, 1999     vol. 10, no. 195

NEWS & VIEWS
from a CATHOLIC perspective

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INFILTRATION OF VATICAN WAS TOP KGB PRIORITY

        VATICAN (CWNews.com) -- During the 1970s and 1980s, Soviet spymasters in Rome were assigned to infiltrate agents into the Vatican, according to a report released in Italy on October 12.

        The "Mitrokhin Dossier," containing documents copied from the secret files of the KGB after the downfall of the Soviet government, indicates that in the early 1980s the top priority of the KGB office in Rome was to penetrate the Vatican diplomatic service. At the time, the Kremlin feared that Western governments-- especially the United States-- had access to intelligence information from the Vatican. KGB agents were therefore directed to identify and recruit Vatican staff members who might have access to classified information, and could be persuaded to pass that information along to the KGB.

        The KGB documents indicate that the Kremlin recognized that it would be difficult to corrupt Vatican officials. However, Soviet intelligence analysts judged that the effort would pay rich dividends, because Vatican diplomats are renowned for their ability to collect sensitive information from all over the world-- precisely because the Holy See has a deserved reputation for guarding secrets.

        The Mitrokhin Dossier was compiled by a Western agent within the KGB apparatus, and transmitted secretly to England in 1992. Four years ago the Dossier was made available to the Italian government, and now the Italian prime minister has relayed the documents to a parliamentary charged with investigating the country's intelligence system.

        The Dossier lists 261 Italians who are said to have cooperated-- in some cases unwittingly-- with the KGB intelligence effort. The list includes an Italian Franciscan monk, who is now deceased; a Ukrainian-rite Catholic priest; an Italian journalist assigned to the Vatican; and the head of a Roman press agency.

        The head of the parliamentary committee which released the Mitrokhin Dossier warned that the listing was not definitive. "We have not yet verified the authenticity and accuracy of the information contained in the documents," he cautioned.


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October 13, 1999       volume 10, no. 195
NEWS & VIEWS

DAILY CATHOLIC

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