CIA backed Rosary crusades, documentary claims

CIA backed Rosary crusades, documentary claims Peter Kelly and narrator Martin Sheen

Rosary Crusades in Latin America organised by a famous Irish-born priest were funded by the CIA as part of a campaign against communism, according to a documentary to be shown on RTÉ tonight.

Guns and Rosaries tells the story of how Fr Patrick Peyton, the US-based ‘Rosary priest’ from Attymass, Co. Mayo, who after recovering from tuberculosis and being ordained started the Family Rosary Crusade, promoting the idea of family prayer as the cornerstone of family values.

Fr Peyton’s media campaign won the support of numerous Hollywood stars and eventually caught the attention of the CIA, impressed by Fr Peyton’s claim that “The Rosary is the offensive weapon that will destroy communism – the great evil that seeks to destroy the Faith.”

In 1959, the CIA began to supply funds to advertise and promote the Rosary Crusade in Latin America. While Fr Peyton believed the important thing was the promotion of the Rosary message, his superiors in the Congregation of the Holy Cross were uneasy with this alliance, and Pope St Paul VI directed that it should stop.

The documentary is directed by Peter Kelly and narrated by Martin Sheen.