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January 27, 2017

Major Catholic Outlets in U.S. Pass Over Archbishop’s Death in Silence

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Catholic news outlets such as the Catholic News Service remained silent about the death of Archbishop Hilarion Capucci, who spent two years in an Israeli jail for smuggling guns for the PLO in the mid-1970s. Above is a screenshot of the search engine results for Archbishop Capucci's name in the Catholic News Service. The one link that appears is to a story about Capucci protesting the blockade of Gaza, but there's no story about his death and conviction on gun-smuggling charges.

Death came for the Archbishop; it got a lot of press. When Hilarion Capucci, a Melkite Archbishop who spent two years in an Israeli prison for smuggling guns for the PLO, died on Dec. 31, 2016, the New York Times wrote about it.

So did the BBC, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press. Crux, the Boston Globe website dedicated to covering the Catholic Church, also covered Capucci’s death at the age of 94.

His death was lamented in a number newspapers in the Middle East as well.

The secular press covered Capucci’s death, but most, if not all, Catholic media outlets in the United States appear to have passed over the Archbishop’s passing in silence.

America Magazine didn’t cover the story. Neither did the National Catholic Reporter, nor did the National Catholic Register. And interestingly enough, the Catholic News Service made no mention of Archbishop Capucci’s death. CNS, did however, report about Capucci’s involvement in a Gaza flotilla in 2010. (Screenshots of efforts to find articles related to Capucci's death on the websites of the outlets just listed are appended to the bottom of this entry.)

Clearly, Capucci’s death was an important news story. Here is an excerpt of an article from CAMERA’s main website about Capucci’s career as a weapons smuggler:

Capucci was arrested by Israeli police on Aug. 18, 1974 and charged with smuggling weapons into the West Bank. The following day the New York Times reported that Capucci, who was born and raised in Syria, was accused of “acting as undercover liaison man between Al Fatah guerrilla group [in Lebanon] and Palestinian guerilla cells” in the West Bank. According to a Times summary, police reported that
large quantities of weapons and explosives were found hidden in his Mercedes sedan in Aug after he returned from visit to Lebanon. Source says Capucci was associated with abortive incident in May during Sec Kissinger's visit in which 3 Katyusha rockets were aimed at the center of Jerusalem. Rockets were discovered before they went off.

Later that month (Aug. 24), the Times reported that Capucci had allegedly told Israelis that he was “forced into guerrilla service by threats of blackmail.” Capucci told the Israelis that he was threatened with physical violence and “the disclosure of actions that might jeopardize his position” within the church. The Times also reported that Capucci faced charges of being accessory to murder because three men who were accused of murdering a Jerusalem taxi driver obtained their weapons from one of Capucci's drop points.

During the trial, Capucci refused to give a statement or sworn evidence because he said Jerusalem was Arab territory and that “Israeli law does not apply in the city” (New York Times, Oct. 30, 1974).

Eventually, Capucci was convicted and sentenced to 12 years in prison. He spent two years in prison before the Israeli government released him after a special request from the Vatican.

Archbishop Capucci’s misdeeds were a shameful episode of Catholic-Jewish relations. It’s unfortunate that Catholic publications failed to report on his death and the controversy surrounding his life in a timely manner.

Appendix

Below are the screenshots of the efforts to find articles about Archbishop Capucci's death in America Magazine, the Catholic News Service, the National Catholic Reporter and the National Catholic Register.

America Magazine

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Catholic News Service

Hilarion-Capucci-CNS-No-Joy.jpg

National Catholic Reporter

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National Catholic Register

Hilarion-Capucci-NatCReg-No-Entry.jpg


Posted by dvz at January 27, 2017 01:51 PM

Comments

one can understand the reticence about capucci (a pseudonym that he adopted); he was a truly corrupt, disgusting, individual who earned the contempt of even those who had run him as a terrorist courier.

apart from capucci's cupidity which made him pliable, one wonders what the plo had on him.

Posted by: dante at January 30, 2017 06:54 PM

one can understand the reticence about capucci (a pseudonym that he adopted); he was a truly corrupt, disgusting, individual who earned the contempt of even those who had run him as a terrorist courier.

apart from capucci's cupidity which made him pliable, one wonders what the plo had on him.

Posted by: dante at January 30, 2017 06:55 PM

At the time we who observed the PLO murder of Christians, men, women and children, of the town of Damour in Southern Lebanon in 1976, the trashing of the graveyard and using the church as a garage for their vehicles, could not believe that Capucci would run guns and explosives for the PLO in the West Bank.
What a hue and cry there was when he was sentenced.
So much for the Vatican's concern for the Lebanese Christians.

Posted by: Barry at February 2, 2017 02:52 PM

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