Catholics have been thriving at the CIA since its earliest days. Who knew?
From The Catholic Herald:
The CIA is the best known of the 17 agencies that comprise the American intelligence community. It has earned itself nicknames like “Catholic Intelligence Agency” and “Catholics In Action”. It’s worth exploring why.
No official statistics exist on Catholics in the CIA or any other American intelligence agency. But one interesting clue is the relatively high number of Catholics who have served as director of the agency.
The United States is a country in which – with the recent exception of the Supreme Court – Catholics have never dominated the highest offices. Only one out of 44 US Presidents has been Catholic. The first and only Catholic Vice President is the current one, Joe Biden. Before John Kerry, the last Catholic Secretary of State was Alexander Haig, who left the post in 1982. Catholics are a rarity in other top positions such as Secretary of Defence.
By contrast, three out of the last five CIA directors have been Catholic: Michael Hayden, Leon Panetta, and the current director, John Brennan. Looking back, a number of Catholics led the agency in critical periods during the Cold War. (There were no Catholic directors in the 1990s.)
Some of the most influential directors in CIA history have been Catholic – men such as Walter Bedell Smith, John McCone, William Colby and William Casey. They were not just casual Catholics. They were devout Mass-goers – in many cases, members of groups like the Knights of Malta. The conspiracy theorists usually start there, with nefarious plots about the Vatican steering world affairs. Of course, they never ask why an all-powerful Vatican can’t engineer more Catholic presidents.