How the CIA’s Doctrinal Warfare Program Changed the Catholic Church
The Doctrinal Warfare Program is the name given to a classified US Government operation commenced in 1953 (in a document entitled PSB D33 with annexes) which targeted the intellectuals, business leaders, and clerics in a number of different societies with the goal of having them approve of the American ideology in principle.
David Wemhoff is an Indiana attorney and has practiced law for more than twenty years. He received a Juris Doctor degree from the University of the Pacific, and an A.B. in Government from the University of Notre Dame. Wemhoff has taught college courses in Government, Constitutional Law, and Business Law.
Alexis: Your 990-page study, John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and the American Proposition: How the C.I.A.’s Doctrinal Warfare Program Changed the Catholic Church, is filled with archival documents and references, which obviously shows that you have thoroughly done your homework. For people who have never heard of the work and its content, lay out the thesis for us here.
Wemhoff: The American leadership (i.e., the socio-economic-cultural elites in American society) coordinated their efforts (mainly media) with the US Government through its Doctrinal Warfare Program, and by using something called psychological warfare, to change the thinking of the Catholic leadership so as to get them to accept as good in principle the ideology underlying American society and also accept America as the idea of social organization.
I document these efforts, which were part of a broader effort to co-opt leaders of all religions. The plan of the American leadership was to use the Catholic Church, and other religions, to then propagate the American ideology, which formed the society known as America, all as a response ostensibly to Soviet Communism.
Acceptance and implementation of the American ideology served to align these societies with America and the USA against the USSR and Communism, and it also served to re-order these same societies thereby opening them to powerful private interests. The book discusses this effort, the response by some Catholic leaders and scholars, and it focuses on the period of about 1941 through 1965 or the conclusion of the Vatican II Council.
The Doctrinal Warfare Program is the name given to a classified US Government operation commenced in 1953 (in a document entitled PSB D33 with annexes) which targeted the intellectuals, business leaders, and clerics in a number of different societies with the goal of having them approve of the American ideology in principle. Psychological warfare is defined further on in this interview.Two key aspects of the American ideology my book proposes are 1) the so-called separation of church and state along with a conception of religious liberty which means that there is not a state established church and that religion is not to form the basis of public policy and 2) the freedom of the press which effectively puts culture, and real power over the minds of the citizenry, in the hands of private concerns.
These two ideas are part of a generalized political philosophy that is part of something called limited government. The American ideology is part of what is called Liberalism, and is in large measure protected by the US Constitution. This ideology, along with the foundational documents of America, serves to create a political economy.
Acceptance of the ideology and the modeling of one’s society in accordance with it results in the implementation of a peculiar political economy which places all religions on an equal footing, has the religions supporting the political economy and the political regime, provides material benefits to the various religions, and minimizes a source of tension in society though the real influence of the religions are vastly reduced and they come to be dominated by powerful private interests if not also the civil authorities, or government.
Catholic doctrine, as I understand was presented by the various scholars that I mention and studied in my book, holds that the civil authorities, or the government, are/is responsible for following something called the divine positive law of Jesus Christ. This means that civil authorities are required to establish the Catholic faith as the religion of the state, and the Catholic Church as the state church.
No one is to be forced to convert, but the public policies are to be based on the divine positive law of Jesus Christ (or the Catholic Faith), and not just the natural law which is what was advocated by the Catholic theologians advancing the American ideology.
“Natural law” is an equivocal concept capable of differing meanings or definitions, and hence prone to manipulation by those with the will and means to do so, and significantly for Catholics it is used to ignore the existence of Jesus Christ, an important historical figure and God-Man who the Catholics say founded their Church and gave them certain precepts to follow.
A focus in the book is on the back and forth between Catholic theologians and others on the issues of church and state relations and religious liberty. Simply put, one side defending Catholic doctrine was lead by a Catholic priest of the Redemptorist order, Francis Connell, and the other side advancing the American ideology was lead by a Catholic priest of the Jesuit order, John Courtney Murray.
Alexis: In chapter 11, you argue that there was actually a psychological warfare going on. Describe that for us.
Wemhoff: Psychological, or political warfare, is the manipulation of words, images, events, and ideas to shape a target audience’s views, ideas, perceptions and beliefs. The Americans developed it and perfected it on a grand scale during World War II and also the Cold War, or what I term World War III since it was actually fought all over the world.
The idea of psychological warfare, like every other idea in American society, first arose in the private sector and then was adopted, developed and expanded by the US Government as a tool, or weapon, against the Axis powers and later the Catholic Church, and other American friends in the so-called Free World. Charles Douglas Jackson (“CD Jackson”) was an expert in this new weapon or tool and he worked for Henry R. Luce, a media mogul, as well as the US Government.
Alexis: You write that
“In exchange for his ideas, the Rockefellers gave [John Courtney Murray] money access to the funding offered by the elite foundations. Murray’s contact with the Rockefellers allowed Georgetown University to land funding for a program entitled ‘An experimental Program in Executive Education to be Undertaken Cooperatively by Georgetown University and The William A. Jump Memorial Foundation,’ which was meant to ‘enlarge the abilities’ of men and women to rise in ‘career executive positions in the Federal Government and there exercise an important influence on the growth of democratic institutions.’
“Murray wrote a letter to Dean Rusk, at the time the president of the Rockefeller Foundation, when he asked them for money. Helping the Rockefellers made one popular with Catholics in the U.S. because of the money that flowed to Catholic institutions…”
Tell us who John Courtney Murray really was and unpack for us the moral and intellectual consequences of his attachment to the Rockefellers, who were feverishly working to depopulate some specific groups in America.
Wemhoff: As previously mentioned, Murray was a Catholic priest of the Jesuit order, and he was born and raised in New York City. His importance is that he provided the appearance of Catholic theological justification for the American ideology, which was termed the American Proposition.
Henry Luce, a media mogul who founded Time, Inc. which published the magazines of Time, Fortune, Life, and Sports Illustrated, worked closely with the US Government and the Rockefellers in terms of advancing the American Proposition. Luce was a friend, patron, and in general, a fellow-traveler with Murray. Together, Luce and Murray (who also worked with the Rockefellers) lead the effort to convince the Catholic leadership that America was the ideal form of social organization.
However, Murray was not the only Catholic priest used to advance Liberalism, it is just that he is the best known. Felix Morlion was a Dominican priest who founded Pro Deo University and who was actively promoting the American ideology before Murray got involved. Morlion’s efforts were funded by American intelligence and supported by Luce and his people.
Pro Deo University was headquartered in Rome and it taught its students that America was the ideal society while preparing these students for leadership roles in business and society in their home countries, many of which were Catholic countries such as those in Latin America.
Another Catholic priest was Gustave Weigel, also a Jesuit, who was an apologist for America in Latin America during much of the 1930s and the 1940s. Indeed, a part of the Jesuit order was engaged in defending and promoting the American ideology especially through the magazine known as America.
Weigel is quite notable as he was the first to articulate the idea that a Catholic can believe one thing privately but in public office he has to act differently. (This gained notoriety in the 1980s when Governor Mario Cuomo said he was personally opposed to abortion but supported a woman’s right to chose.) This idea effectively strips power from the Church and the Catholic Faith to influence public policy.
The most powerful players in society then become private interests, and these are oftentimes the financial interests. My book documents the various conferences held by the American leadership to lay the plans and stress the importance of convincing societies of the importance and value of accepting the American Proposition, or the American ideology.
There was a close coordination between the media, intelligence services, and financial interests, and Luce with his lieutenants as well as the key leaders of these various sectors understood the importance and power of private capital.
Alexis: You said that “No one wanted to write Murray’s biography, and to this day, no one has.” You also suggested that people perceived that “Murray was part of the establishment…Murray was part of the efforts of the American elites and U.S. Government to conquer the Church, and a biography would expose the connection.”
Wemhoff: My book, I believe, exposes the connection, but more importantly it explains why Murray’s efforts were considered by the powerful people of his day to be so important which was ultimately to advance the financial and political power of certain segments of American society. Ideas are the most powerful of tools, or weapons.
Alexis: There are some anti-Catholics out there out there who would look at the life of Murray and would immediately declare, “Here we again. Another Catholic kook.” What would you want to say to those people?
Wemhoff: Well, I suppose there are a lot of Catholic kooks out there, but read the book, and decide for yourself who they may be, if any. My book is a history book and it details the phenomenally successful American effort at taking over the Catholic Church by co-opting the Catholic leadership. That’s important because today, if not for a long time, the Catholics are strong supporters of America.
The book has a number of other important dynamics explained and mentioned in its pages that anyone – whether they are anti-Catholic or not – may be or should be interested in. One important dynamic is an explanation of the American system of social organization. Another dynamic is the American way of extending influence.
Yet another is how the Catholic Church’s leadership has taken a dualistic approach to the issues of the day – pandering to the wealthy and powerful while pacifying the people in the pews. Perhaps also the book details how it is the Catholic Church changed so radically in the last fifty or so years – accepting America as good in principle, as the ideal of social organization, it has tried to remodel itself to be like America thereby viewing America as the teacher of the Church and not the other way around as the Church’s Founder seemed to indicate was the proper relationship in the Gospel of Matthew 28:18-20.
And the book also touches upon what I believe was the creation in the 1950s of the fiction that America was based on Christian principles, all to enlist the religions in the fight against Soviet Communism by endorsing the American ideology. That fiction has lead to the culture wars to this date that have so badly divided this society and country.
This is a unique book because it documents the use, and importance, of ideas to advance the American experiment, and it deals with what I believe really matters – a battle of ideas or worldviews. The book doesn’t deal with the less important political efforts of one group or another whether they be conservatives, liberals, neo-conservatives, politicians or errant government agencies – it deals with core ideas, ideas of societal organization.
Ideas impact and underlay economics, culture, politics, religion, and our daily lives, and my book proposes that many view Liberalism as having a different impact on societies and individuals than does Catholic social doctrine.
Wemhoff: Pope Francis’ comments at Independence Hall in Philadelphia and to the United States Congress last September (2015) suggest that he assumes or agrees the ideal society is one organized along the lines of the American ideology, and that this ideology is, in principle, acceptable to Catholic doctrine. He may do well to take his own advice and “look at history” for, as he said in Philadelphia, “we always benefit from looking at history – especially the history of the last century.”
So, he should read my book because it deals with an important aspect of the history of the last century – and it helps to explain how so many Catholic Church leaders hold the views they do.
CommentaryWemhoff certainly has a point here. Just take a casual look at how Catholic institutions like the University of Notre Dame have been thoroughly subverted by one ideology after another.
The sad part is that when Catholic priests and institutions follow the ideological principles which people like Wilhelm Reich had already imposed on much of the culture and even on Catholic priests and nuns, the ideologues themselves revolt against those priests and Catholic institutions. John D. Sutter of CNN declared back in 2014:
“The Catholic church can’t have it both ways on gay rights. Either it must take steps to accept gay and lesbian people as part of its flock—including them as full members, embracing their unions, decrying Catholic schools that fire gay and lesbian teachers and calling for the full protection of LGBT people around the world.
“Or it can go back to emphasizing its condemnation of homosexual acts as ‘intrinsically disordered,’ as it does in the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”Sutter cannot have it both ways. He has to explain to us the vital contradiction within his own system. Once again, whenever Catholic priests act upon the unspoken principle which Sutter has unconvincingly articulated—namely, sexual liberation is a good thing—they are condemned as perverts who ought to be dragged out of the country and hanged. As one commenter wrote to me last month:
“Does anyone really believe that child molestation by Catholic priests is anything new? They just happened to get caught in recent times. One can be sure this hypocritical immoral misconduct has been going on for centuries.”This commenter was incapable of addressing the fundamental issues. He simply could not tell us whether homosexuality is right or wrong either because to say yes or no would ruin much of the issues that post beneath the surface.
To say that homosexuality is wrong is to simply attack or condemn the sexual revolution, the feminist movement, and indeed Wilhelm Reich and Freud themselves, people who specifically declare that sexual impulses must never be suppressed.
But if homosexuality is all right, then why not Catholic priests? You see, the issues are not as black and white as the commenter had hope they were. And it is obvious that Sutter is facing the same dilemma.
Pope Benedict in particular made it very clear in 2010 that priests who have molested children must acknowledge what they have done
“against defenseless children. Such an acknowledgement, accompanied by sincere sorrow for the damage caused to these victims and their families, must lead to a concerted effort to ensure the protection of children from similar crimes in the future.”Will Sutter ask Hollywood directors such as Woody Allen, Brian Singer, Roman Polanski and others to apologize for the damage they have committed against defenseless children? Will he repudiate Wilhelm Reich, who argued that children should be used as sex toys for a greater revolutionary purpose? Reich wrote:
“If we could once succeed in engaging the sexual interests of children and adolescents on a mass scale, then reactionary contamination would be faced with a tremendous counterforce—and political reaction would be powerless. …the mechanism that makes masses of people incapable of freedom is the social suppression of genital sexuality in small children, adolescents, and adults.”Reich again said: “It is the youth that matters! And they—this much is certain—are no longer accessible to a sex-negating ideology on a mass scale. This is our strong point.” Reich’s book is littered with disgusting views. He even made it very clear that if “childhood masturbation” is ignored, then his revolutionary movement would be inadequate. Reich:
“If one succeeds in getting rid of the childhood fear of masturbation and as a result thereof genitality demands gratification, then intellectual insight and sexual gratification are wont to prevail.”Sutter and his accolades haven’t said a word about Reich and his disciples. In fact, they are praised as freedom fighters. As already seen, Sutter is quick to condemn Catholic priests who were too stupid enough to follow Reich’s advice. But Reich and his disciples again ought not to be touched. How can Sutter and others maintain both contradictory views while their heads do not explode?
 David A. Wemhoff, John Courtney Murray, Time/Life, and the American Proposition: How the C.I.A.’s Doctrinal Warfare Program Changed the Catholic Church (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2015), 509.
 Ibid., 893.
 Ibid., 893-894.
 E. Michael Jones, Is Notre Dame Still Catholic? (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2009); Libido Dominandi: Sexual Liberation and Political Control (South Bend: St. Augustine’s Press, 2000); The Catholic Church and the Cultural Revolution (South Bend: Fidelity Press, 2016).
 John D. Sutter, “3 ways the Catholic church should embrace gay rights,” CNN, October 15, 2014.
 Quoted in Jones, The Catholic Church and the Cultural Revolution, kindle edition.