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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
03VATICAN4570 2003-10-06 15:09:00 CONFIDENTIAL Embassy Vatican
Cable title:  

VATICAN MIFFED, REALISTIC ABOUT GEORGIAN ABOUT

Tags:   GG KIRF PGOV PHUM PREL SOCI VT 
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					  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