Sunday, May 10, 2015

ADSS 1.35 Notes of Joseph Hurley, Secretariat of State on current tensions

ADSS 1.35 Notes of Fr Joseph Hurley, Secretariat of State (1)

Reference: AES 2778/39

Location and date: 09.05.1939

Summary statement: Conversation with Fr Hurley and A S Rogers, Secretary of the US Embassy to Italy. (2)

Language: Italian


Mr Rogers, Secretary of the American Embassy at the Quirinal, called this evening on Fr Hurley to ask for information regarding the news published by the New York Times today saying that the Holy See proposed a Five Power Conference (France, Italy, England, Germany, Poland) to settle all the problems that at present trouble the relations between Germany and Poland and between  others of the Great European Powers. (3)

Having guessed the purpose of the visit, Fr Hurley had already asked for instructions.  He was then able to answer that, as was to be expected, the Holy Father follows with great concern the developments of this painful situation in Europe, and has already several times taken the opportunity to maintain peace.  The activity of the Holy See’s Representatives in various capital, which has been noted in the last few days by the newspapers, could be explained I this way, but the news that His Holiness has invited the European Powers to attend a Conference in the Vatican City is not true.

Mr Rogers mentioned that an intervention of the Holy See to call a Peace Conference would meet with general approval in Washington and in the United States and would offer the hope of a happier future to a world worried by the danger of war. As the Holy See is above all questions of material interests which put the nations one against the other, it is perhaps the only Power which could be trusted for its impartiality. Even the nations which are not directly interested in the European disputes, as for example, the United States, are more or less involved in the ideological conflict which divides Europe and are, for that reason, not qualified for the task of peacemakers.  Mr Rogers added that the Italian Government and people would be very pleased if such a conference should take place in the Vatican.

In the following more general conversation, Mr Rogers stated that the Head of the Italian Government told M. Gafencu that the difference between Italy and France are not such as to lead to a war. (3)  Several times the Duce repeated: “We have not yet signed a military pact with Germany”.  The Romanian minister had the clear impression that Mussolini wanted his words to be conveyed to the French Government, which he did not fail to do.

A great difficulty according to Rogers, is created by the present attitude of France towards Italy.  France has taken an intransigent attitude and does not want to move from its position. After the Milan meeting between Ciano and von Ribbentrop, French circles in Rome and newspaper in France, thinking that a final decision had been reached, say that there is nothing else to do.  The British, on the contrary, attribute to this meeting a less tragic meaning by saying that the Milan meeting has hardly changed the situation. (4)

I the end, Mr Rogers begged Fr Hurley to keep the Embassy informed about any eventual initiative of the Holy See, if possible.  Fr Hurley promised to ask for instructions in the matter.

(1) Joseph Hurley (1894-1967) priest of Cleveland Diocese, Ohio.  Worked at the Secretariat of State 1934-40 with the responsibility for drafting all documents of the Secretariat.  Appointed bishop of St Augustine, Florida in 1940.  Some claim he had a major falling-out with Cardinal Maglione over papal policy with regard to the Church’s official response to the fascist powers.
(2) I have been unable to locate any information on A S Rogers.
(3) Grigore Garencu (1892-1957), Romanian Foreign Minister 1939-40.  During a visit to Rome he was received officially by Ciano on 30.04.1939 and Mussolini on 01.05.1939.

(4) Galeazzo Ciano (1904-1944), Italian Foreign Minister met with his German counterpart, Joachim Ribbentrop (1893-1946) in Milan between 6-7.05.1939.  At this meeting Ciano, speaking for Mussolini, gave the German government its agreement to enter into a military pact.  Mussolini was hesitant about supporting Germany’s more aggressive stance and sort to create distance by having Ciano report that Italy would not be ready for war until at least 1942.  Ribbentrop surprised the Italians by saying the same for Germany.

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