Tuesday, July 7, 2015
ADSS 1.58 Tacchi Venturi to Maglione: discussion with Mussolini
ADSS 1.58 Pietro Tacchi Venturi SJ to Luigi Maglione, Sec State
Reference: AES 3297/39, handwritten
Location and date: Rome 07.06.1939
Summary statement: Discussion with Mussolini about current situation; Mussolini says war is inevitable; relations with Fascist Party and Catholic Action.
The report requested by the Holy Father is quickly given. (1) First of all I told the Head of the Government what the Secretary of State had mentioned to me in the note, which I now return herewith, which, of course, I did not show, either in the original or in the copy made for my own use. (2) I added that the Holy Father’s speech to the Sacred College of Friday last was universally appreciated, even by the Foreign Powers; and here I though it well to point out that just the previous day, Sunday the Plenipotentiary Minister of Great Britain had expressed to His Holiness how much hope he had felt in learning from his august words that the door had been left open for new entreaties and new solicitous cares. Signor Mussolini listened to all this with glacial indifference, and I was induced to say: So then your Excellency thinks war inevitable? Most certainly, was his reply. I continued: “Maybe Russia is entering into an alliance, as one hears, with Great Britain and France?” He replied, “That does not matter, what she does make no difference.”
He did not add anything, showing me clearly that he had no intention of continuing this argument.
I went on then to draw his attention to the fact that here, in the centre of things, the relations between Catholic Action and the Regime's Institutions were going on passably well, but at the periphery, here and there, membership of GIL (3) was not permitted to members of Catholic Action. On hearing this Il Duce’s expression altered as if I had said something untrue, and said, “Bring me factual proofs”. And I, being possession of the cautious letter written by a schoolteacher who had been refused the Fascist membership card unless she gave up the one of Catholic Action, showed it to him to convince him, with that example, that factual proofs were not lacking, adding that I could send him many others.
The remaining part of the short audience, during which he was in a very bad mood, was taken up by talking about particular matters, such as concession to converted Jews, etc, etc. [sic]
(1) Tacchi Venturi, Agenda, 05.06.1939 “Audience with Il Duce at 4.30pm.”
(2) See ADSS 1.53.
(3) Gioventu Italiana del Littorio, Fascist Youth Group.