Sunday, August 16, 2015
ADSS 1.89: Cicognani to Maglione: Meeting with US Secretary of State on the international situation
ADSS 1.89 Amleto Cicognani, Ap Del USA, to Luigi Maglione, Sec State.
Reference: Report Number 0001/30 (AES 4726/39)
Location and date: Rome, 11.07.1939
Summary statement: Summary of meeting with Secretary of State, Benjamin Sumner Welles (1892-1961) on the international situation.
I beg to present the enclosed Note or Memorandum received the day before leaving Washington; and as it is impossible for me here to add the Protocol number I insert a fictitious one.
On 29 June I had Mr Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State, as my guest for lunch, as I informed you in a previous report (1). He not only accepted the invitation, but mentioned it to the President who took this opportunity to give me the high honour to present to the Holy Father the expression of his devoted homage and sincere admiration, and at the same time to say again how deeply he wishes to co-operate with any Government of Power inclined to promote peace. The President still believes that any dispute of an economic or territorial nature could and should be settled buy negotiations. Monsignor Ready, Secretary General of the National Catholic Welfare Conference (2), was present at this conversation, which took place only between the three of us, and with him I wrote the enclosed Note. Mr Welles added that the President, I his strong wish to work for peace, would be honoured and pleased to receive suitable suggestions from the Holy See.
Memorandum of Fr Michael Ready, Secretary of the NCWC, enclosed with the preceding report.
Summary Statement: Conversation between the Apostolic Delegate and the Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles. The latter expressed President Roosevelt’s anxieties on the international situation. He has confidence in the Pope’s influence for the cause of peace. He recalls Roosevelt’s message of 14.04.1939 and the proposal of a Conference of the Pope. Roosevelt believes also that a conference could avoid war. The Apostolic Delegate explains the difficulties of Roosevelt’s message, and those encountered by the Holy See’s endeavours for peace.
On the occasion of the luncheon tendered by his Excellency the Apostolic Delegate to the United States to the Under Secretary of State, Mr Sumner Welles, an opportunity for private conversation with his Excellency was requested by Mr Welles. Those present at the lunch, besides his Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate and the Under Secretary of State, Mr Welles, were the Auditor, Monsignor Vagnozzi, the Secretaries of the Delegation, Monsignor Binz, Fr Daly, OP, Fr Skehan OP, and Monsignor Ready (3).
On taking leave of the company, Mr Welles requested a private conversation with his Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate. Mr Welles also expressed the wish to have Monsignor Ready present. Accordingly, his Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate, r Welles and Monsignor Ready went to the Apostolic Delegate’s apartment.
His Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate very cordially expressed to Mr Welles the gratitude of the Holy See for President Roosevelt’s and the Department of State’s [sic] interest in obtaining a tax exempt status for the Delegation property and for many other service rendered in favour or the Church by the Department of State, through the kind representation of Mr Welles. Mr Welles expressed his great pleasure in the satisfactory conclusion of the tax exempt matter and assured his Excellency that it was the Department’s and his own pleasure to be of service at all times.
Mr Welles then spoke of the present serious preoccupation of the United States Government in the recurring cries in Europe and the Far East, which threatened the peace of the world. Mr Welles said he spoke to his Excellency at the request of President Roosevelt and the President was particularly concerned that all the forces for peace should work co-operatively to gain for society a much-desired reign of peace amongst all nations. Mr Welles said he expressed the mind of the President in holding that the Holy Father’s influence amongst the nations was a principal consideration for believing that a peaceful settlement might be brought to society in this troubled time.
Mr Welles referred to the President’s appeal to Hitler and Mussolini, 14 April 1939. In that appeal, the President hoped that through a conference all matters affecting the friendly relations of nations could be explored. Mr Welles said that this government’s first concern was to avert war; that war could be averted only when nations agreed to settle the economic and territorial disputes which led to enmity amongst nations. Mr Welles said the United States Government was prepared to take part in a conference of nations to adjust the present cause s of world unrest. Such a conference could be successful only if the nations came to it in good faith and with a sincere desire for peace.
Mr Welles said that the President believed the same moral law, which kept the peace between individuals, operated between nations; that a spirit of aggression by an individual against his neighbour upset the peace of a community. The same thing was true among nations. If a world society was to be constantly fearful of aggression on the part of certain nations, then there could be no hope for peace nor for the solution of world and national problems which pressed heavily upon all governments.
Mr Welles then spoke of reports he had received about the Holy See’s endeavours for peace in the last months and said that the action of the Holy See had given great encouragement to the Government of the United States, Mr Welles then repeated the earlier declaration that the President desired to work co-operatively with everyone and every government striving for peace; that the President believed a conference for the settlement of economic and territorial claims should be arranged in order to avert war.
His Excellency, the Apostolic Delegate, replied that the President’s communication of 14 April had been transmitted to the Holy See, as requested by the President through the United States Department of State; that the Holy See felt great difficulty in following up the message of 14 April because the government addressed believed that they were unfairly singled out from among the nations.
Mr Welles reviewed the concern of the government to avoid that appearance and at the same time not accuse inferentially a number of nations that had not disturbed the peace of the world by aggressive acts.
His Excellency spoke of continuing difficulties the Holy See encountered in pursuing representations for peace but assured the Under Secretary that the President’s desires as expressed on the present occasion would be reported to the Cardinal Secretary of State and brought to the attention of His Holiness.
His Excellency spoke of the affection of His Holiness for the President and the people of the United States and of the Holy Father’s desire to work for peace among all nations.
Mr Welles thanked his Excellency and after an exchange of cordial farewells the interview closed.
(1) This report has not been found in ASV. Benjamin Sumner Welles (1892-1962), Under Secretary of State 1937-43.
(2) Michael Ready (1893-1957), Secretary NCWC 1931-44.
(3) Egidio Vagnozzi (1906-1980), the Secretaries of the Delegation and later Apostolic Delegate to the United States 1958-68; Leo Binz (1900-1979), Fr Daly, OP (??), Fr Philip Skehan OP (1901-after 1965).