Wednesday, July 8, 2015

ADSS 1.66 Valeri to Maglione: tensions in France

ADSS 1.66 Valerio Valeri, France, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State

Reference: Report 8493/193 (AES 4037/39)

Location and date: Paris, 20.06.1939

Summary statement: Nuncio has met Ambassador Charles-Roux who regrets the Holy See’s attitude towards Germany.  Nuncio pointed out the Holy See’s need for impartiality.

Language: Italian


On the 12th June the Ambassador Charles-Roux called on me and spoke about several questions. (1) I think it right to report about this to your Eminence because on some questions he was undoubtedly voicing the Quai d’Orsay’s ideas, or of some of its officials, and, on the other hand he will probably never voice these ideas with the same frankness in his conversations with your Eminence.

The Ambassador told me that in political circles here there is the common impression that the difference of attitude (“reaction” – he said) of the present Pontificate, in comparison with the previous one, is excessive.  “Without doubt – so he expressed himself – all expected a change, because each one has his own temperament and his own methods; to many however, the difference seems excessive.”  And he particularly mentioned the fact that the Holy See has become silent regarding the religious persecutions in Germany.

I replied to M. Roux [sic] that probably this was due to the fact that the persecutions had decreased and therefore prudence, if not justice, suggested waiting while helping the growth of better attitudes on the part of the German rulers.

The Ambassador replied that the persecutions were still rampant and he had recent news, especially from Austria, that things were as before,  He admitted, however, that in the German Press the attacks against the Holy See had diminished and were less violent.  This, however, was the only improvement.

I then drew attention to another aspect of the question, pointing out to the Ambassador that the Holy See, in a moment so grace in international life, has to make the last attempt on behalf of peace and this would be impossible if the Holy See did not keep some contact with the two blocs in which Europe is now divided.  To this remark M. Roux replied that the Holy See can perform its activity in two ways, either through diplomacy or be asserting the principles which stand against the theories now in fashion; and this second mode of action , according to his opinion, seemed to him safer.

I tried to make clear to him that in this case only war would remain to sort out the issues, but he did not appear frightened by this prospect,  I could have added that on other occasions the same French Government had asked the Holy See to intervene by using diplomacy, I the interest of peace, but the Ambassador knew this better than I. (2)

The conversation ended with discussion of the filling of vacant sees.

(1) Francios Charles-Roux (1879-1961), French Ambassador to the Holy See 1932-40.
(2) Jean Verdier (1864-1940), Cardinal Archbishop of Paris 1929-40, had brought a request to Pius XI in February 1939 on behalf of the French Government.  See Paul Duclos SJ, Le Vatican et la seconde guerre mondiale. Action doctrinale et diplomatique en faveur de la paix, 1955, p104n4. 

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