Antonio Caggiano

Last updated
His Eminence
Antonio Caggiano
Cardinal, Archbishop of Buenos Aires
Antonio Caggiano.jpg
Archdiocese Buenos Aires
Installed August 15, 1959
Term ended April 22, 1975
Predecessor Santiago Copello
Fermín Lafitte (ad interim)
Successor Juan Carlos Aramburu
Ordination March 23, 1912 (Priest)
Consecration March 17, 1935 (Archbishop)
Created Cardinal February 18, 1946
Rank Cardinal priest of San Lorenzo in Panisperna
Personal details
Birth name Antonio Caggiano
Born(1889-01-30)January 30, 1889
Coronda, Santa Fe Province, Argentina
Died October 23, 1979(1979-10-23) (aged 90)
Buenos Aires
Buried Buenos Aires Metropolitan Cathedral
Nationality Argentine
Denomination Roman Catholic Church
Alma mater Seminary of Santa Fe
Styles of
Antonio Caggiano
External Ornaments of a Cardinal Bishop.svg
Reference style His Eminence
Spoken style Your Eminence
Informal style Cardinal
See Buenos Aires

Antonio Caggiano (30 January 1889 – 23 October 1979) was an archbishop and a cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church in Argentina. He played a part in helping Nazi sympathisers and war criminals escape prosecution in Europe by easing their passage to South America.

Archbishop bishop of higher rank in many Christian denominations

In Christianity, an archbishop is a bishop of higher rank or office. In some cases, such as the Lutheran Church of Sweden and the Church of England, the title is borne by the leader of the denomination. Like popes, patriarchs, metropolitans, cardinal bishops, diocesan bishops, and suffragan bishops, archbishops are in the highest of the three traditional orders of bishops, priests, and deacons. An archbishop may be granted the title or ordained as chief pastor of a metropolitan see or another episcopal see to which the title of archbishop is attached.

Argentina federal republic in South America

Argentina, officially named the Argentine Republic, is a country located mostly in the southern half of South America. Sharing the bulk of the Southern Cone with Chile to the west, the country is also bordered by Bolivia and Paraguay to the north, Brazil to the northeast, Uruguay and the South Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Drake Passage to the south. With a mainland area of 2,780,400 km2 (1,073,500 sq mi), Argentina is the eighth-largest country in the world, the fourth largest in the Americas, and the largest Spanish-speaking nation. The sovereign state is subdivided into twenty-three provinces and one autonomous city, Buenos Aires, which is the federal capital of the nation as decided by Congress. The provinces and the capital have their own constitutions, but exist under a federal system. Argentina claims sovereignty over part of Antarctica, the Falkland Islands, and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands.



Caggiano was born in Coronda, Santa Fe Province. He studied in the seminary of Santa Fe and became a priest there in 1908, at the age of 23. From 1913 to 1931 he taught at the seminary. In the 1920s he was sent to Rome by the Argentine episcopacy, together with three other priests, in order to study the organization of the Azione Cattolica (the Italian Catholic Action). The Argentine Catholic Action was founded in 1931 following this model.

Coronda City in Santa Fe, Argentina

Coronda is a small city in the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. It is located in the San Jerónimo Department, 43 km south from the provincial capital. It has a population of about 18,000 inhabitants.

Santa Fe Province Province of Argentina

The Province of Santa Fe is a province of Argentina, located in the center-east of the country. Neighboring provinces are from the north clockwise Chaco, Corrientes, Entre Ríos, Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Santiago del Estero. Together with Córdoba and Entre Ríos, the province is part of the economico-political association known as the Center Region.

Santa Fe, Argentina City in Santa Fe, Argentina

Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz is the capital city of the province of Santa Fe, Argentina. It is situated in north-eastern Argentina, near the junction of the Paraná and Salado rivers. It lies 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) from the Hernandarias Subfluvial Tunnel that connects it to the city of Paraná. The city is also connected by canal with the port of Colastiné on the Paraná River. Santa Fe de la Vera Cruz has about 391,164 inhabitants as per the 2010 census [INDEC]. The metropolitan area has a population of 653,073, making it the eighth largest in Argentina. The third largest city in Argentina is Rosario, also located in Santa Fe Province. Rosario has a population of 1.24 million and it is the largest city in Argentina not to be a provincial capital.

Caggiano was appointed the first bishop of the newly erected Diocese of Rosario on 13 September 1934, for which he was consecrated on 14 March 1935. Pope Pius XII elevated him to Cardinal on 18 February 1946.

A bishop is an ordained, consecrated, or appointed member of the Christian clergy who is generally entrusted with a position of authority and oversight.

Pope Pius XII 260th Pope of the Catholic Church

Pope Pius XII, born Eugenio Maria Giuseppe Giovanni Pacelli, was head of the Catholic Church from 2 March 1939 to his death. Before his election to the papacy, he served as secretary of the Department of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs, papal nuncio to Germany, and Cardinal Secretary of State, in which capacity he worked to conclude treaties with European and Latin American nations, most notably the Reichskonkordat with Nazi Germany.

In his 2002 book The Real Odessa [1] Uki Goñi showed that Argentine diplomats and intelligence officers had, on Perón's instructions, vigorously encouraged Nazi and Fascist war criminals to make their home in Argentina. Argentina's first move into Nazi smuggling was in January 1946, when Caggiano flew with Bishop Agustín Barrére to Rome where Caggiano was due to be created cardinal. While in Rome, the Argentine bishops met with French Cardinal Eugène Tisserant, where they passed on a message (recorded in Argentina's diplomatic archives) that "the Government of the Argentine Republic was willing to receive French persons, whose political attitude during the recent war would expose them, should they return to France, to harsh measures and private revenge". Over the spring of 1946 a number of French war criminals, fascists and Vichy officials made it from Italy to Argentina in the same way: they were issued passports by the Rome ICRC office; these were then stamped with Argentine tourist visas (the need for health certificates and return tickets was waived on Caggiano's recommendation). The first documented case of a French war criminal arriving in Buenos Aires was Emile Dewoitine, who was later sentenced in absentia to 20 years hard labour. He sailed first class on the same ship back with Cardinal Caggiano. [2] [3]

Uki Goñi Argentine journalist and historian

Uki Goñi is an Argentine author. His research focuses on the role of the Vatican, Swiss authorities and the government of Argentina in organizing 'ratlines', escape routes for Nazi criminals and collaborators.

Eugène Tisserant French cardinal

Eugène-Gabriel-Gervais-Laurent Tisserant was a French prelate and Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. Elevated to the cardinalate in 1936, Tisserant was a prominent and long-time member of the Roman Curia.

Vichy France officially the French State, was France during the regime of Marshal Philippe Pétain, during World War II

Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Evacuated from Paris to Vichy in the unoccupied "Free Zone" in the southern part of metropolitan France which included French Algeria, it remained responsible for the civil administration of France as well as the French colonial empire.

He participated in the 1958 and 1963 Papal conclaves, but his age prevented him from participating in the conclaves of 1978.

On 15 August 1959 he was appointed Archbishop of Buenos Aires. He was installed there on 25 October. On 14 December of that year he was also appointed head of the Military Ordinariate of Argentina.

Military ordinariate

A military ordinariate is an ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic Church, of the Latin or an Eastern church, responsible for the pastoral care of Catholics serving in the armed forces of a nation.

Caggiano retired from the Archbishopric on 22 April 1975, and resigned from the Military Ordinariate on 7 July of the same year. He was the Archbishop Emeritus of Buenos Aires for four more years. He died in 1979, at the age of 90, and was buried in the Metropolitan Cathedral of Buenos Aires.


Le Marxisme-Léninisme

In 1961, Caggiano wrote a prologue for the Spanish translation by Juan Francisco Guevara (who later became a colonel) of Le Marxisme-léninisme, written by Jean Ousset, private secretary of monarchist intellectual Charles Maurras, and founder of the Cité catholique fundamentalist organization. The book states that Marxism–Leninism can be successfully combated only by a "profound faith, an unlimited obedience to the Holy Father, and a thorough knowledge of the Church's doctrines"; and Caggiano thanked the "men of La Ciudad Católica of Argentina" for publishing the book. [4]

Along with Colonel Jean Gardes, French expert in psychological warfare, Ousset developed the new concept of "subversion". According to Horacio Verbitsky, who does not say that it was expounded in the book, this concept "conceived a protean, quintessential enemy who, rather than being defined by his actions, was seen as a force trying to subvert Christian order, natural law or the Creator's plan." [5] Verbitsky also says that the Cité catholique included members of the OAS terrorist group founded in Madrid during the Algerian War, and that the first branch outside France was created in 1958 in Argentina. [6]

In this prologue, Caggiano explained that Marxism is born of "the negation of Christ and his Church put into practice by the Revolution" and spoke of a Marxist conspiracy to take over the world, for which it was necessary to "prepare for the decisive battle," although the enemy had not yet "taken up arms." Caggiano compared this vigilance to the one that preceded the 1571 Battle of Lepanto "to save Europe from domination by the Turks". [4] Ousset's book included a list of the papal bulls condemning communism.

On this basis, Verbitsky, a member of the Montoneros, attributed to Caggiano support for human rights violations, commenting: "As often happens in a continent that imports ideas, the doctrine of annihilation preceded that of the revolutionary uprising." [4]


In October 1961, Caggiano, who was then vicar (not head) of the Argentine Military Ordinariate, participated in the inauguration ceremony of the first course on counter-revolutionary warfare in the Higher Military College at the side of President Arturo Frondizi, who within a few months was ousted, accused, Verbitsky says, of being too tolerant towards communism.

Verbitsky says that Bishop Victorio Bonamín, Caggiano's associate in the military vicariate general, was one of the instructors in the course, but not Caggiano himself. He also says that in the course of counter-insurgency classes cadets at the Navy Mechanics School were shown the film The Battle of Algiers (1966), made by Italian communist director Gillo Pontecorvo. The film, which was censored in France, showed the methods used by the French colonial army in Algeria, including the systemic use of torture. The naval chaplain (again, not Caggiano) introduced the film and added a commentary from the religious point of view, reportedly justifying the use of torture as a weapon.

See also

Related Research Articles

Catholic Church in Argentina

The Catholic Church in Argentina is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope, the Curia in Rome, and the Argentine Episcopal Conference.

The ODESSA is an American codename coined in 1946 for a possible Nazi underground escape plan at the end of World War II by a group of SS officers with the aim of facilitating secret escape routes. The idea has been widely circulated in fictional spy novels and movies, notably Frederick Forsyth's best-selling 1972 thriller The Odessa File. The routes are also called ratlines. The goal was to allow the SS members to escape to Argentina, Brazil, or the Middle East under false passports. This goal was in fact achieved by 300 Nazis with support from Juan Perón after he came to power in Argentina in 1946.

Ratlines comprised a system of escape routes for Nazis and other fascists fleeing Europe at the end of World War II. These escape routes mainly led toward havens in Latin America, particularly Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Bolivia, as well as the USA and Switzerland. There were two primary routes: the first went from Germany to Spain, then Argentina; the second from Germany to Rome to Genoa, then South America. The two routes developed independently but eventually came together to collaborate. The ratlines were supported by clergy of the Catholic Church, and historian Michael Phayer claims this was supported by the Holy See.

Alois Hudal bishop of Austrian descent

Alois Hudal was an Austrian titular bishop in the Catholic church, based in Rome. For thirty years, he was the head of the Austrian-German congregation of Santa Maria dell'Anima in Rome and, until 1937, an influential representative of the Austrian Catholic Church.

Vjekoslav Vrančić Croatian politician

Vjekoslav Vrančić was a high-ranked Croatian Ustaše official who held different positions in the Independent State of Croatia during World War II in Yugoslavia. After the proclamation, he served as the Under Secretary of the Ustaše Foreign Affairs Ministry. In 1942, he was Pavelić's envoy to the Italian Second Army. In this role he entered into negotiations with Chetnik representatives Jevđeviċ, Grđiċ and Kraljeviċ. Then he served as Under Secretary in the Ustaše Interior Ministry, the "body directly responsible for concentration camps and repressive political apparatus". Vrančić was "decorated by Hitler in honor of his planning skills at the work of mass deportation".

Krunoslav Draganović Croatian Roman Catholic priest

Krunoslav Stjepan Draganović was a Croatian Roman Catholic priest associated with the ratlines which aided the escape of Ustaše war criminals from Europe after World War II while he was living and working at the College of St. Jerome in Rome. He was himself an Ustaša and a functionary in the fascist puppet state called the Independent State of Croatia.

Horacio Verbitsky Argentine writer

Horacio Verbitsky is an Argentine left-wing investigative journalist and author with a past history as a leftist guerrilla in the Montoneros. In the early 1990s, he reported on a series corruption scandals in the administration of President Carlos Menem, which eventually led to the resignations or firings of many of Menem's ministers. In 1994, he reported on the confessions of naval officer Adolfo Scilingo, documenting torture and executions by the Argentine military during the 1976–83 Dirty War. His books on both the Menem administration and the Scilingo confessions became national bestsellers. The veracity of the once-accepted works became a focus in 2015, however, as more questions arose over Verbitsky's own professional identity during the military dictatorship. As of January 2015 Verbitsky is a Commissioner for the International Commission against the Death Penalty.

The Cité Catholique is a Traditionalist Catholic organisation created in 1946 by Jean Ousset, originally a follower of Charles Maurras and Jean Masson (1910–1965), not to be confused with Jacques Desoubrie, who also used the pseudonym Jean Masson. Despite the presence of Roman Catholic clergy in some of its meetings, the Cité catholique is not officially recognised by the Roman Catholic Church.

Jacques de Mahieu, whose real name is Jacques Girault, was a French Argentine anthropologist and Peronist. He wrote several books on esoterism, which he mixed with anthropological theories inspired by scientific racism.

Pierre Daye was a Belgian journalist and Nazi collaborator. As supporter of the Rexist Party, Daye exiled himself to Juan Peron's Argentina after World War II.

Jean Ousset was a French ideologist of National Catholicism born in Porto, Portugal. He was an activist of the Action française monarchist movement in the 1930s, and personal secretary of its leader, Charles Maurras. Under the Vichy regime during World War II, Ousset became the chief of the research bureau of Jeune légion, a structure dependent of the Légion française des combattants, the veterans' association created in 1940 and headed by Xavier Vallat.

Santiago Copello Argentine cardinal

Santiago Luis Copello was an Argentine Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church. He served as Archbishop of Buenos Aires from 1932 to 1959, and was elevated to the cardinalate in 1935. Copello served as the first Argentine cardinal and the first cardinal from Hispanic America.

Argentina–Germany relations describes the diplomatic relations between the Federal Republic of Germany and the Argentine Republic

Argentina–Germany relations are foreign relations between Argentina and Germany. The free city-state of Hamburg was the first German state to establish diplomatic relations with Argentina in 1829. The first ambassador of Germany to Argentina was sent on 7 May 1871.

Carlos Mugica Argentine priest and activist

Carlos Mugica was an Argentine Roman Catholic priest and activist.

Friedrich Josef Rauch was an SS Obersturmbannführer in charge of the Führer's personal security at the Reichskanzlei after 1942 and was alleged to be involved in the disposal of Nazi gold in 1945.

René Lagrou (1904–1969) was a Flemish-Belgian politician and collaborator with Nazi Germany.

Juan Carlos Goyeneche was an Argentine Catholic nationalist politician. Also highly sympathetic to Nazism, during the Second World War Goyeneche travelled to Nazi Germany where he met a number of leading figures. He was the son of Mayor of Buenos Aires Arturo Goyeneche and the grandson of a President of Uruguay.

Fermín Emilio Lafitte Argentine cardinal

Fermín Lafitte was an Argentine Roman Catholic cleric, serving as Archbishop of Córdoba and, briefly, as Archbishop of Buenos Aires.

The Ordinariate for Eastern (Rites) Catholics in Argentina or Argentina of the Eastern Rite is a Catholic Ordinariate for Eastern Catholic faithful, jointly for all Eastern Catholics, regardless of rite, living in Argentina.


  1. From the 'Perón tapes' he recorded the year before his death, published in Yo, Domingo Perón, Luca de Tena et al.; this translation as quoted in Uki Goñi's The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón's Argentina, Granta (revised edition) 2003, p. 100
  2. Goñi, The Real Odessa: Smuggling the Nazis to Perón's Argentina, Granta (revised edition) 2003, pp. 96–98
  3. Uki Goñi, The Real Odessa, Granta, London, 2002, and La Odessa que creó Perón, Pagina/12 , 15 December 2002 (in Spanish) quote: "el cardenal Caggiano viajó al Vaticano en 1946 y ofreció en nombre del gobierno argentino al país como refugio de los criminales de guerra franceses escondidos en Roma."
  4. 1 2 3 Quoted by Horacio Verbitsky, in The Silence, extract transl. in English made available by openDemocracy: Breaking the silence: the Catholic Church in Argentina and the "dirty war" Archived 2006-11-22 at the Wayback Machine ., July 28, 2005, p.4
  5. Verbitsky, ibid., p. 3
  6. Verbitsky, ibid., p. 3
Catholic Church titles
Preceded by
Bishop of Rosario
Succeeded by
Silvino Martínez
Preceded by
Fermín Emilio Lafitte
Archbishop of Buenos Aires
Succeeded by
Juan Carlos Aramburu
Preceded by
Josef Frings
Cardinal Protopriest
Succeeded by
Carlos Vasconcellos