Church bestows high honor on former top Reagan aide

Monterey Bishop Richard Garcia, who nominated Clark for the honor, presented Clark, 78, with the pontifical medal on March 21 during a Mass at Chapel Hill, a small private chapel Clark had constructed on his ranch in Shandon, a tiny town of fewer than 1000 residents in San Luis Obispo County. Clark is said to have built the chapel on a hill on his ranch after narrowly averting death during the takeoff of a small plane in the 1980s.

While serving in the Reagan Administration, Clark played a crucial role in reversing a more than 100-year-old Congressional ban prohibiting the appointment of a U.S. ambassador to the Holy See. In 1984, President Reagan appointed William A. Wilson as the first U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, ending the 115-year-long ban.

“This event was of great significance because it was an official recognition by the United States of the Vatican as an important actor on the world diplomatic stage,” the Monterey diocese said in a written statement provided to the Ventura County Star.

The diocesan statement also said Clark “played a key role in a plan to end the Cold War while in the Reagan administration,” reported the Star. “The plan included putting pressure on the Soviet Union’s economy… In 1982, Clark arranged a meeting between Reagan and Pope John Paul II. The pope and Reagan agreed it was important to encourage Poland’s solidarity trade union to combat Soviet influence in Eastern Europe.”

Read more at California Catholic Daily

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