Viewing cable 03VATICAN4570
Title: VATICAN MIFFED, REALISTIC ABOUT GEORGIAN ABOUT

IdentifierCreatedReleasedClassificationOrigin
03VATICAN45702003-10-06 15:09:00 2011-08-30 01:44:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 004570 
 
SIPDIS 
 
 
DEPT FOR EUR/WE: LEVIN; DRL/IRF: HEWETT; EUR/CACEN 
 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 10/06/2013 
TAGS: GG KIRF PGOV PHUM PREL SOCI VT
SUBJECT: VATICAN MIFFED, REALISTIC ABOUT GEORGIAN ABOUT 
FACE ON BILATERAL AGREEMENT 
 
REF: A. TBILISI 2196 
 
     ¶B. TBILISI 2111 
 
CLASSIFIED BY: DCM D. BRENT HARDT FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D) 
 
------- 
SUMMARY 
------- 
 
    ¶1. (C) VATICAN AUTHORITIES WERE SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED 
WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF GEORGIA'S 
DECISION NOT TO SIGN AN INTERSTATE AGREEMENT THAT HAD BEEN 
NEGOTIATED WITH THE HOLY SEE. 
FOREIGN MINISTER JEAN LOUIS TAURAN HAD UNUSUALLY STRONG WORDS 
IN THE MEDIA AS HE 
CONCLUDED HIS FRUITLESS VISIT TO GEORGIA, DESCRIBING THE 
DECISION AS A "GRIEVOUS OFFENSE." 
VATICAN OFFICIALS TOLD EMBASSY 
THE AGREEMENT PROVIDED NOTHING MORE THAN A GUARANTEE OF LEGAL 
STATUS TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 
GEORGIA AND DID NOT REPRESENT A THREAT TO THE ORTHODOX 
CHURCH.  THOUGH OUR INTERLOCUTORS BLAMED 
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH FOR INSTIGATING THE GOG'S 
ABOUT FACE, THEY WERE REALISTIC ABOUT THE MYRIAD PRESSURES 
THE ORTHODOX 
AND GOG FACED, AND SAID THEY DID NOT EXPECT THE INCIDENT TO 
REVERBERATE TO THE WIDER 
DETRIMENT OF CATHOLIC-ORTHODOX RELATIONS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------- 
FM TAURAN LASHES OUT AT GOG 
--------------------------- 
 
¶2. (SBU) VATICAN AUTHORITIES WERE MIFFED OVER THE GOVERNMENT 
OF 
GEORGIA'S SURPRISE DECISION LAST MONTH NOT TO SIGN AN 
INTERSTATE AGREEMENT 
THAT HAD BEEN NEGOTIATED WITH THE HOLY SEE (REFTELS) AND HAD 
BEEN SLATED 
TO BE SIGNED DURING THE VISIT OF HOLY SEE FOREIGN MINISTER 
    ARCHBISHOP 
(SOON-TO-BE-CARDINAL) JEAN LOUIS TAURAN TO TBILISI SEPTEMBER 
18-20.  TAURAN 
TOLD THE PRESS TERSELY THAT THE "LAST-MINUTE RETHINK ON THE 
PART OF THE 
GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES" WAS A SLAP IN THE FACE FOR CATHOLICS IN 
GEORGIA, 
AND DECRIED THE LACK OF LEGAL RIGHTS FOR THE CATHOLIC 
COMMUNITY.  THE 
NORMALLY MEASURED TAURAN REFERRED TO THE DECISION AS A 
"GRIEVOUS OFFENSE" 
AND ACCUSED THE GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF A MISINFORMATION 
CAMPAIGN ON 
THE ISSUE, DESPITE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S WILLINGNESS TO SHARE 
INFORMATION 
ON THE GOVERNMENT TALKS.  WHEN TAURAN WENT ON TO SAY THE 
INCIDENT WOULD 
"CAUSE GREAT SUFFERING" TO THE AILING POPE JOHN PAUL II, WHO 
HAD 
CHAMPIONED CATHOLIC-ORTHODOX RECONCILIATION IN A 1999 VISIT 
TO GEORGIA, 
HE WAS HITTING THE GEORGIANS WITH BOTH BARRELS. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
HOLY SEE: NO PLAN FOR PRIMACY, PROSELYTISM IN GEORGIA 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
¶3. (C) WHEN THE SMOKE HAD CLEARED SOMEWHAT, OUR VATICAN 
CONTACTS OFFERED A 
LESS STRIDENT ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION.  JOZEF MAJ OF THE 
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL 
    FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY, AND HOLY SEE OFFICE 
DIRECTOR FOR GEORGIA 
JULIO MURAT BOTH REFUTED THE CHARGE OF GEORGIAN NATIONALIST 
GURAM SHARADZE 
AND OTHERS THAT THE VATICAN HAD CONDUCTED SECRET NEGOTIATIONS 
TO "MAKE 
CATHOLICISM A STATE RELIGION."   MURAT SAID THERE HAD BEEN 
"CONVERSATIONS" 
BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH 
REGARDING THE ACCORD, 
AND THE CHURCH HAD BEEN WORKING WITH THE GOVERNMENT TO GUARD 
AGAINST OFFENDING 
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.  THERE WAS NO THOUGHT OF TRYING TO GAIN 
PRIMACY FOR THE 
CATHOLIC CHURCH IN GEORGIA -- ONLY TO GUARANTEE ITS RIGHTS, 
HE SAID.  THOUGH 
SOME GEORGIAN ORTHODOX MAY FEEL A PSYCHOLOGICAL THREAT, THE 
HOLY SEE INSISTED 
THERE WAS NOTHING FOR THE ORTHODOX TO FEAR LEGALLY.  FURTHER, 
MAJ CONTINUED, 
THE CHURCH HAD NO GRAND PLANS FOR PROSELYTISM IN GEORGIA. 
 
VATICAN 00004570  001.2 OF 002 
 
) VATICAN AUTHORITIES WERE SURPRISED AND DISAPPOINTED 
WITH THE GOVERNMENT OF GEORGIA'S 
DECISION NOT TO SIGN AN INTERSTATE AGREEMENT THAT HAD BEEN 
NEGOTIATED WITH THE HOLY SEE. 
FOREIGN MINISTER JEAN LOUIS TAURAN HAD UNUSUALLY STRONG WORDS 
IN THE MEDIA AS HE 
CONCLUDED HIS FRUITLESS VISIT TO GEORGIA, DESCRIBING THE 
DECISION AS A "GRIEVOUS OFFENSE." 
VATICAN OFFICIALS TOLD EMBASSY 
THE AGREEMENT PROVIDED NOTHING MORE THAN A GUARANTEE OF LEGAL 
STATUS TO THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN 
GEORGIA AND DID NOT REPRESENT A THREAT TO THE ORTHODOX 
CHURCH.  THOUGH OUR INTERLOCUTORS BLAMED 
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH FOR INSTIGATING THE GOG'S 
ABOUT FACE, THEY WERE REALISTIC ABOUT THE MYRIAD PRESSURES 
THE ORTHODOX 
AND GOG FACED, AND SAID THEY DID NOT EXPECT THE INCIDENT TO 
REVERBERATE TO THE WIDER 
DETRIMENT OF CATHOLIC-ORTHODOX RELATIONS.  END SUMMARY. 
 
--------------------------- 
FM TAURAN LASHES OUT AT GOG 
--------------------------- 
 
¶2. (SBU) VATICAN AUTHORITIES WERE MIFFED OVER THE GOVERNMENT 
OF 
GEORGIA'S SURPRISE DECISION LAST MONTH NOT TO SIGN AN 
INTERSTATE AGREEMENT 
THAT HAD BEEN NEGOTIATED WITH THE HOLY SEE (REFTELS) AND HAD 
BEEN SLATED 
TO BE SIGNED DURING THE VISIT OF HOLY SEE FOREIGN MINISTER 
    ARCHBISHOP 
(SOON-TO-BE-CARDINAL) JEAN LOUIS TAURAN TO TBILISI SEPTEMBER 
18-20.  TAURAN 
TOLD THE PRESS TERSELY THAT THE "LAST-MINUTE RETHINK ON THE 
PART OF THE 
GEORGIAN AUTHORITIES" WAS A SLAP IN THE FACE FOR CATHOLICS IN 
GEORGIA, 
AND DECRIED THE LACK OF LEGAL RIGHTS FOR THE CATHOLIC 
COMMUNITY.  THE 
NORMALLY MEASURED TAURAN REFERRED TO THE DECISION AS A 
"GRIEVOUS OFFENSE" 
AND ACCUSED THE GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH OF A MISINFORMATION 
CAMPAIGN ON 
THE ISSUE, DESPITE THE CATHOLIC CHURCH'S WILLINGNESS TO SHARE 
INFORMATION 
ON THE GOVERNMENT TALKS.  WHEN TAURAN WENT ON TO SAY THE 
INCIDENT WOULD 
"CAUSE GREAT SUFFERING" TO THE AILING POPE JOHN PAUL II, WHO 
HAD 
CHAMPIONED CATHOLIC-ORTHODOX RECONCILIATION IN A 1999 VISIT 
TO GEORGIA, 
HE WAS HITTING THE GEORGIANS WITH BOTH BARRELS. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
HOLY SEE: NO PLAN FOR PRIMACY, PROSELYTISM IN GEORGIA 
--------------------------------------------- -------- 
 
¶3. (C) WHEN THE SMOKE HAD CLEARED SOMEWHAT, OUR VATICAN 
CONTACTS OFFERED A 
LESS STRIDENT ANALYSIS OF THE SITUATION.  JOZEF MAJ OF THE 
PONTIFICAL COUNCIL 
    FOR THE PROMOTION OF CHRISTIAN UNITY, AND HOLY SEE OFFICE 
DIRECTOR FOR GEORGIA 
JULIO MURAT BOTH REFUTED THE CHARGE OF GEORGIAN NATIONALIST 
GURAM SHARADZE 
AND OTHERS THAT THE VATICAN HAD CONDUCTED SECRET NEGOTIATIONS 
TO "MAKE 
CATHOLICISM A STATE RELIGION."   MURAT SAID THERE HAD BEEN 
"CONVERSATIONS" 
BETWEEN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH AND THE GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH 
REGARDING THE ACCORD, 
AND THE CHURCH HAD BEEN WORKING WITH THE GOVERNMENT TO GUARD 
AGAINST OFFENDING 
THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.  THERE WAS NO THOUGHT OF TRYING TO GAIN 
PRIMACY FOR THE 
CATHOLIC CHURCH IN GEORGIA -- ONLY TO GUARANTEE ITS RIGHTS, 
HE SAID.  THOUGH 
SOME GEORGIAN ORTHODOX MAY FEEL A PSYCHOLOGICAL THREAT, THE 
HOLY SEE INSISTED 
THERE WAS NOTHING FOR THE ORTHODOX TO FEAR LEGALLY.  FURTHER, 
MAJ CONTINUED, 
THE CHURCH HAD NO GRAND PLANS FOR PROSELYTISM IN GEORGIA. 
 
VATICAN 00004570  002.1 OF 002 
 
EATENED INITIALLY BY THE ACCORD.  AFTER 
ENCOUNTERING 
PRESSURE FROM EXTREMISTS, HOWEVER, THEY CHANGED THEIR MIND. 
IN THE VIEW OF OUR 
CONTACTS, THERE WAS NO DOUBT THAT THE ORTHODOX CHURCH 
INITIATED THE PRESSURE THAT 
    FORCED THE GOG'S BACKTRACK.  IN FACT, MURAT SAID HE HAD HEARD 
RUMORS THAT THE 
ORTHODOX CHURCH HAD PAID DEMONSTRATORS TO AGITATE AGAINST THE 
AGREEMENT. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
HOLY SEE REALISTIC ABOUT GEORGIAN PRESSURES 
------------------------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) MURAT WAS REALISTIC AND, TO SOME EXTENT, UNDERSTANDING 
ABOUT THE FLAP. 
HE ACKNOWLEDGED THE CHALLENGES AND CHANGE GEORGIAN SOCIETY 
HAD EXPERIENCED IN 
RECENT YEARS, SAYING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAD TO "UNDERSTAND 
AND APPRECIATE 
THEIR NEED TO DEFEND THEIR CULTURE AND IDENTITY IN THIS 
CLIMATE OF CHANGE." 
HE ALSO RECOGNIZED THE DIFFICULT BALANCING ACT PRESIDENT 
SHEVARDNADZE HAD TO 
PLAY WITH THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.  STILL, AS MAJ INSISTED, THE 
ACCORD WAS 
NECESSARY FOR CATHOLICS.  WITHOUT LEGAL STATUS IT WAS 
DIFFICULT FOR THE 
CATHOLIC CHURCH TO BUY AND/OR REGAIN PROPERTY TO SERVE ITS 
PEOPLE.  ALSO, 
A GUARANTEE OF LEGAL STATUS, THE HOLY SEE BELIEVED, MIGHT 
INFLUENCE 
THE SOMETIMES HOSTILE ATMOSPHERE CATHOLICS FACED IN GEORGIA. 
BOTH MAJ AND 
MURAT NOTED THE CONTINUED VIOLENCE AND IMPEDIMENTS TO WORSHIP 
EXPERIENCED 
    BY CATHOLICS AND BY OTHER NON-ORTHODOX IN GEORGIA. 
 
--------------------- 
COMMENT: WHAT'S NEXT? 
--------------------- 
 
¶6. (C) OUVINPDRDSUPORS SAW HK\TLE HOPE AT THIS POINT THAT 
TXE AC!ORD 
WKLD CESIGNED IN THE NEAR FUTURE.  Q MORE`G5NERAHNAW KN 
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 
THAT POTECTEDTHE(ZMGHTCOF A WIDER ARRAY OF DENOMINATIONS 
M 
SOULD FE!7ENCOME 
TO THE HOLY SEE, AND MAJ SAID IT WAS A SUBJE#T THE HOLY SEE 
HAD DISCUSSED 
WITH OTHER CHRISTIAN GROUPS IN GEORGIA.  BUT, OPTIMISTIC 
COMMENTS BY 
SHEVARDNADZE IN THE PRESS ON THE SUBJECT NOTWITHSTANDING, MAJ 
DOES NOT 
EXPECT TO SEE THIS LAW ANY TIME SOON IN LIGHT OF THIS RECENT 
CONTROVERSY. 
 
¶7. (C) AS FOR THE FLAP'S GENERAL EFFECT ON WIDER 
ORTHODOX-CATHOLIC RELATIONS, 
OUR VATICAN SOURCES ARE SEEKING TO PREVENT IT FROM 
REVERBERATING MUCH BEYOND ITS 
IMMEDIATE CONTEXT.  THERE IS RECOGNITION IN THE VATICAN THAT 
THE FACTORS THAT 
HELPED CREATE THIS CHALLENGE TO ORTHODOX-CATHOLIC RELATIONS 
ARE IN FACT 
SPECIFIC TO GEORGIA -- THE INFLUENCE OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX 
    CHURCH IN 
THE COUNTRY, POLITICAL COMPLICATIONS CAUSED BY SEPARATIST 
ABKHAZIA, AND THE 
COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE 
ORTHODOX CHURCH. 
NEVERTHELESS, THE INCIDENT REINFORCES THE CURRENT 
DIFFICULTIES THE HOLY SEE 
FACES IN IMPROVING ITS RELATIONS WITH THE ORTHODOX WORLD. 
THE POPE, AS MAJ 
EMPHASIZES, WANTS RECONCILIATION WITH THE ORTHODOX, BUT NOT 
"AT ANY COST." 
ANY RAPPROCHEMENT HAS TO BE BASED ON "MUTUAL RESPECT AND 
CONSIDERATION." 
FROM THE HOLY SEE'S PERSPECTIVE, THE GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH 
HAS SOME 
FENCE-MENDING TO DO ON THIS ACCOUNT. 
 
NICHOLSON 
 
VATICAN 00004570  002.2 OF 002 
 
EATENED INITIALLY BY THE ACCORD.  AFTER 
ENCOUNTERING 
PRESSURE FROM EXTREMISTS, HOWEVER, THEY CHANGED THEIR MIND. 
IN THE VIEW OF OUR 
CONTACTS, THERE WAS NO DOUBT THAT THE ORTHODOX CHURCH 
INITIATED THE PRESSURE THAT 
    FORCED THE GOG'S BACKTRACK.  IN FACT, MURAT SAID HE HAD HEARD 
RUMORS THAT THE 
ORTHODOX CHURCH HAD PAID DEMONSTRATORS TO AGITATE AGAINST THE 
AGREEMENT. 
 
------------------------------------------- 
HOLY SEE REALISTIC ABOUT GEORGIAN PRESSURES 
------------------------------------------- 
 
¶5. (C) MURAT WAS REALISTIC AND, TO SOME EXTENT, UNDERSTANDING 
ABOUT THE FLAP. 
HE ACKNOWLEDGED THE CHALLENGES AND CHANGE GEORGIAN SOCIETY 
HAD EXPERIENCED IN 
RECENT YEARS, SAYING THE CATHOLIC CHURCH HAD TO "UNDERSTAND 
AND APPRECIATE 
THEIR NEED TO DEFEND THEIR CULTURE AND IDENTITY IN THIS 
CLIMATE OF CHANGE." 
HE ALSO RECOGNIZED THE DIFFICULT BALANCING ACT PRESIDENT 
SHEVARDNADZE HAD TO 
PLAY WITH THE ORTHODOX CHURCH.  STILL, AS MAJ INSISTED, THE 
ACCORD WAS 
NECESSARY FOR CATHOLICS.  WITHOUT LEGAL STATUS IT WAS 
DIFFICULT FOR THE 
CATHOLIC CHURCH TO BUY AND/OR REGAIN PROPERTY TO SERVE ITS 
PEOPLE.  ALSO, 
A GUARANTEE OF LEGAL STATUS, THE HOLY SEE BELIEVED, MIGHT 
INFLUENCE 
THE SOMETIMES HOSTILE ATMOSPHERE CATHOLICS FACED IN GEORGIA. 
BOTH MAJ AND 
MURAT NOTED THE CONTINUED VIOLENCE AND IMPEDIMENTS TO WORSHIP 
EXPERIENCED 
    BY CATHOLICS AND BY OTHER NON-ORTHODOX IN GEORGIA. 
 
--------------------- 
COMMENT: WHAT'S NEXT? 
--------------------- 
 
¶6. (C) OUR INTERLOCUTORS SAW LITTLE HOPE AT THIS POINT THAT 
THE ACCORD 
WOULD BE SIGNED IN THE NEAR FUTURE.  A MORE GENERAL LAW ON 
RELIGIOUS FREEDOM 
THAT PROTECTED THE RIGHTS OF A WIDER ARRAY OF DENOMINATIONS 
WOULD BE WELCOME 
TO THE HOLY SEE, AND MAJ SAID IT WAS A SUBJECT THE HOLY SEE 
HAD DISCUSSED 
WITH OTHER CHRISTIAN GROUPS IN GEORGIA.  BUT, OPTIMISTIC 
COMMENTS BY 
SHEVARDNADZE IN THE PRESS ON THE SUBJECT NOTWITHSTANDING, MAJ 
DOES NOT 
EXPECT TO SEE THIS LAW ANY TIME SOON IN LIGHT OF THIS RECENT 
CONTROVERSY. 
 
¶7. (C) AS FOR THE FLAP'S GENERAL EFFECT ON WIDER 
ORTHODOX-CATHOLIC RELATIONS, 
OUR VATICAN SOURCES ARE SEEKING TO PREVENT IT FROM 
REVERBERATING MUCH BEYOND ITS 
IMMEDIATE CONTEXT.  THERE IS RECOGNITION IN THE VATICAN THAT 
THE FACTORS THAT 
HELPED CREATE THIS CHALLENGE TO ORTHODOX-CATHOLIC RELATIONS 
ARE IN FACT 
SPECIFIC TO GEORGIA -- THE INFLUENCE OF THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX 
CHURCH IN 
    THE COUNTRY, POLITICAL COMPLICATIONS CAUSED BY SEPARATIST 
ABKHAZIA, AND THE 
COMPLEX RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN THE GEORGIAN GOVERNMENT AND THE 
ORTHODOX CHURCH. 
NEVERTHELESS, THE INCIDENT REINFORCES THE CURRENT 
DIFFICULTIES THE HOLY SEE 
FACES IN IMPROVING ITS RELATIONS WITH THE ORTHODOX WORLD. 
THE POPE, AS MAJ 
EMPHASIZES, WANTS RECONCILIATION WITH THE ORTHODOX, BUT NOT 
"AT ANY COST." 
ANY RAPPROCHEMENT HAS TO BE BASED ON "MUTUAL RESPECT AND 
CONSIDERATION." 
FROM THE HOLY SEE'S PERSPECTIVE, THE GEORGIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH 
HAS SOME 
FENCE-MENDING TO DO ON THIS ACCOUNT. 
 
NICHOLSON 
 
NNNN 

 2003VATICA04570 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL