And that was back in 1973! Another fascinating bit of transcription from recently-released tapes of conversations between Nixon and Billy Graham, this time focusing on Nixon’s take on Catholics of the day. At America magazine’s blog, Jim Martin has the goods. The set-up is Graham and Nixon discussing prospects for a worldwide church body to counter the left World Council of Churches. The two men see leading bishops in the GOP camp, and the Jesuits as “all-out, barn-burning radicals.” Plus ca change!
President Nixon: Now what about the Catholics?
Rev. Graham: We don’t know. They’re going to come in great numbers as observers.
Graham: So far, they would not be able to participate, and uh, you know the Southern Baptist and other groups wouldn’t um…
Nixon: Yeah…the trouble is…
Graham: They couldn’t anyway.
Nixon: Yeah. The difficulty too is that the Catholics aren’t [in better shape] with that too. They’re going be losing their stroke, because…
Graham: They’re…they’re…that is the problem.
Nixon: They’re split right down the middle. They sure are. You’ve got the good guys like [John Cardinal] Krol of Philadelphia, and [Terence Cardinal] Cooke in New York. And then there’s this bad wing, the Jesuits, who used to be the conservatives, and have become now become the all-out, barn-burning radicals.
Graham: I think quite a bit, by the way, of that fellow you’ve got working with you–McLaughlin.
Nixon: Oh yeah [laughter] the priest, yeah. You know, he’s good, and he’s sort of a convert to our side. He came in a total, all-out peacenik and then went to Vietnam and changed his mind.
Graham: I never met him, until I was over at a prayer breakfast over at the White House about a month ago. He invited me up to his office, and I went over and spent about an hour with him.
Nixon: He’s a very capable fellow, bright as a tack.
Here is a link to Tape 43, Conversation 161.