Reagan and Vatican
Abraham Lincoln was the first President to break all diplomatic ties with the Vatican, in the 1860
When Reagan was sworn in he did so in front of the Egyptian Obelisk, also known as the George Washington Monument. He gave his inauguration address clearly facing directly at the monument.
Ronald Reagan. He reestablished full diplomatic ties with the Vatican, the first President, since Lincoln, first act three times, to meet in private with the Pope, then Bitsburg Cemetery, the burial spot for the Nazi SS Officers.
The White House announces that President Reagan will lay a wreath at the Bitburg, West Germany, military cemetery housing the graves of both American and Nazi soldiers. It is quickly noted that there are, in fact, no Americans buried there.
As the contra aid vote approaches, President Reagan claims he "just had a verbal message delivered to me from Pope John Paul, urging us to continue our efforts in Central America." The Vatican quickly issues a denial.
While Michael Deaver is in West Germany searching for an "appropriate" concentration camp for the President to visit, President Reagan defends his visit to Bitburg by claiming the German soldiers "were victims, just as surely as the victims in the concentration camps."
President Reagan defends the Bitburg visit as "morally right," adding, "I know all the bad things that happened in that war. I was in uniform for four years myself." President Reagan spent his time during World War Two in Hollywood, making training films.
After having visited the Bergen-Belsen death camp, PresidentReagan makes an eight minute stop at Bitburg. During the ceremony, he cites aletter from 13-year-old Beth Flom who, he claims, "urged me to lay thewreath at Bitburg cemetery in honor of the future of Germany." In fact,she urged him not to go at all.
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