Leonard Leo is a board member of the Opus Dei’s Catholic Information Center (CIC), where sitting U.S. Attorney General, Bill Barr, and White House Counsel Pat Cipollone, also once served. The Catholic lay group has been described as one of the world’s “most powerful and politically committed” secret societies, with direct ties to the Vatican as a “personal prelature,” an official status awarded by John Paul II that made sure the group only answers to the Pope himself.
Founded in 1928 by a Spanish priest and lawyer, Opus Dei, wouldn’t become the agent of global fascism until later in the twentieth century when the CIA began funneling money to an Opus Dei think tank in Chile called the Chilean Institute for General Studies (IGS) after it drew support for the overthrow of democratically elected president Salvador Allende from Chilean bishops, and was a pivotal cog in the implementation of Operation Condor – a transnational intelligence operation running through Southcom to aid South American right-wing dictatorships in the 1970s. Many of the members of IGS went on to become cabinet officials in Pinochet’s military junta.
The Pope’s special designation was the result of Opus Dei’s covert role, assisted through William Colby’s CIA, to effectuate damage control after the collapse of an Italian bank in the late ‘70s led to multiple investigations by Italian authorities that uncovered a concerted effort to disrupt and dismantle left-leaning groups or political parties in Europe by financing so-called “stay-behind units” of former Nazi soldiers and other extreme right-wing elements through a global money-laundering, drug-running and assassination network involving the highest echelons of the U.S. government, the Holy See and the Sicilian Mafia.
Known as Operation Gladio, it was only as the scheme was unraveling in the late 70s that Opus Dei began to play its vital role in covering up the movement of billions of dollars worldwide to prop up dictatorships in Latin America, as well as acts of subversion and sabotage throughout the old continent. In 1984, the organization was recruited to reorganize the Vatican’s finances, which were then under heavy scrutiny from Italian investigators.