THE UNITED States ambassador to the Vatican, Mr William Wilson, is the subject of an inquiry by the US State Department following his intervention in the case of the Vatican Bank head, Archbishop Paul Marcinkus.
Mr Wilson is reported to have written a letter in 1982 on behalf of the Archbishop to US Attorney-General, William French Smith. Mr Smith and Mr Wilson are both long-standing friends of President Reagan, and are members of his circle of close advisors.
When he wrote the letter Mr Wilson, who has managed Mr Reagan's private financial affairs since 1973, was the President's unpaid and personal envoy to the Holy See. Earlier this year the US established full diplomatic relations with the Vatican, and Mr Wilson was named as ambassador.
He draws a distinction between his activities as ambassador, in which capacity he is a government official and comes under the control of the State Department, and his activities as a personal envoy, during which period, he says "I was free to carry on my own business as 1 saw fit."
But tile closeness of Mr Wilson's connection with. President Reagan, and the sensitivity surrounding the alleged involvement of US-born Archbishop Marcinkus in the events leading up to the collapse of the Banco Ambrosiano have raised fears in the US administration of potential embarassment arising from Mr Wilson's remarks on behalf of the Archbishop.