Friday, April 17, 2015

ADSS 1.20 Pius XII to Victor Emanuel III (draft): Proposal for peace conference

By early May the Pope had reason to believe that a peace conference was a possibility.  This draft of a letter to the King of Italy was prepared in the event that the five powers - Britain, France, Germany, Italy and Poland - agreed to meet using the resources offered by the Pope.   Over the following days the proposal was positively received and the pope thanked.  It was discussed by each of the five powers but there was a decided lack of will to undertake the conference. The letter to Victor Emanuel was never sent.  By mid-May there appeared little prospect that the proposal would come to fruition.  Nevertheless Pius made it clear that he was always available and ready to help negotiations at any time.

ADSS 1.20 Pope Pius XII to King Victor Emanuel III – draft of letter (1)

Reference: AES 2402/39, draft with the pope’s corrections.

Location and date: Vatican, 04.05.1939

Summary statement: Appeal to the King for a peace conference.

Language: Italian


In this particularly grave hour in the life of the peoples, We cannot avoid feeling reflected in Us the anguish of the fear that the present international disputes could become embittered to the point of leading to an open conflict.  To what ruins, death and teas this would lead, anybody with a sane mind and a feeling heart cannot fail to see, warned by the experience of a not-too-distant past.

Interpreting these feelings, and answering the repeated and warm prayers that reach Us from every corner, conscious of Our Responsibility and eager to try everything that is in Our power for the well-being of the peoples, We feel it is our imperative duty to appeal to those upon whom depends the settlement of the present dangerous disputes and to invite them, I the name of God, and of their own human feelings, to find in peaceful talks a path which would avoid the danger of bloody conflicts.  For this reason and in great earnest We address Ourselves to You, beloved Son, begging that Your Government, accepting Our proposal, will not refuse to meet the Representatives of France, Germany, Great Britain and Poland in a friendly “conference”.  We hope that Your Representatives and those of the other great European nations, gathered together, will be able, through serene and loyal discussions, to find a solution to the present problems and reach the desired understanding.

Absolving in this way Our duty of Pastor and Father We think it is better to abstain from examining programs and details of this longed for meeting: but we are sure that everybody understands that peace cannot return to the people’s mind until the outstanding problems between Germany and Poland, France and Italy, and the others which derive from these, are final settled.

Trusting that Our appeal will find in the hearts of those to whom it is addressed the acceptance that the gravity of the cause authorises Us to expect and with the eager wish that the sense of reciprocal justice and moderation will be able to procure to the anxious peoples the peace for which they long and the possibility of peaceful work, We give You, Beloved Son, Our Apostolic Benediction.

(1) This is the draft of an invitation which would be sent not only to the King of Italy, but also to the heads of State in Germany, Great Britain, France and Poland.  But as the first attempt to find out the reactions of the interested governments proved that they were not favourable to the proposed conference, the letter was not sent.

King Victor Emanuel III

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