Roster of Statements


The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests

SNAP Press Statement

For immediate release:
Sunday, January 11, 2009

Former papal diplomat dies; He could have made a difference

Statement by Barbara Dorris, outreach director of SNAP

In the mid-1980s, Pio Laghi, as the pope' envoy to the US, had direct access to the wise counsel of Fr. Thomas Doyle, who repeatedly and presciently warned Catholic officials to deal more honestly and compassionately with clergy sex abuse cases. Laghi instead, for the most part, continued the church's long-standing secrecy and passivity with consequences that can only be declared disastrous.

In two crucial and early clergy sex abuse cases, Laghi should have acted more forcefully and forthrightly - Fr. Gilbert Gauthe in Louisiana and Bishop Joseph Ferrario in Hawaii. In each case, he could have taken stronger and swifter steps to protect the vulnerable and heal the wounded.

Vatican diplomat Cardinal Pio Laghi dead at 86


VATICAN CITY (AP) — Cardinal Pio Laghi, a longtime Vatican diplomat who went to Washington to try to dissuade U.S. President George W. Bush from launching the 2003 invasion of Iraq, has died, the Vatican said Sunday. He was 86.

Laghi died Saturday evening in Rome, said Vatican spokesman the Rev. Ciro Benedettini. He had been unwell in hospital for some time, news reports said.

Pope John Paul II tapped Laghi, a former envoy to Washington, in 2003 to meet with U.S. President George W. Bush on the eve of war. Laghi was trying to prevent what he said was a morally and legally unjustified invasion.

Laghi, who had been friendly with the Bush family, delivered a letter from John Paul and pressed Bush on whether he was doing everything to avert war.

"You might start and you don't know how to end it," Laghi said at the time.

The Italian-born Laghi had a long career in the Vatican diplomatic corps, serving first in Nicaragua in 1952. He was dispatched to India, Jerusalem and the Palestinian territories, Cyprus, Greece and Argentina before being named envoy to Washington in 1980.

At the time, there were no formal diplomatic relations between the United States and the Holy See; Laghi oversaw the establishment of ties in 1984 and remained as the Vatican's permanent diplomatic representative there until he was recalled to Rome to serve as prefect of the Vatican's Congregation for Catholic Education.

He was named a cardinal in 1991.

John Paul dispatched Laghi to Israel and the Palestinian territories in 2001 with a personal message calling for a cease-fire and resumption of peace talks.

Pope Benedict XVI is expected to participate in a funeral service for Laghi on Tuesday in St. Peter's Basilica, the ANSA and Apcom news agencies reported.

Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests