Tuesday, September 20, 2016

ADSS 1.222 Sec State: notes on Christmas truce

ADSS 1.222 Sec State Notes

Reference: AES 8991/39

Location and date: Vatican, 02.12.1939

Summary statement: French opinion favours a Christmas truce: feels this would be well-received in UK and Germany.

Language: Italian


Mons Fontenelle (1), feeling that he could not wait for the return of the Substitute, related to Mr X as follows:

In various sections of French opinion a trend has been noted which would favour the Holy Father’s intervening in favour of a truce of 24 hours for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, to be proposed to the belligerents (2).  There are reasons to believe that such an initiative would be favourably received by Great Britain and Germany itself, although bombing up to now has been almost non-existent; it was only a question of being able to assure the civil population that they could safely attend Midnight Mass.

In this way the instructions of the French Episcopate regarding the cancellation of Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve could be revoked (2).

The Ambassadors could be “sounded out” confidentially beforehand about the chances of a favourable reception.

(1) Rene Fontenelle, (1894-1957), curial official in Rome.

(2) Bishops’ Conferences across Europe and in Britain had advised against celebrating Midnight Mass because of fears of travelling through blackouts and curfews.  In most cases parishes went ahead anyway in 1939. 

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