Sunday, February 19, 2017

ADSS 1.264 Notes of the Secretary of State: conversation with Myron Taylor and Maglione

ADSS 1.264 Secretary of State, notes

Reference: AES 2466/40

Location and date: Vatican, 15.03.1940

Summary statement: Conversation of Myron Taylor with Maglione.

Language: Italian


The Ambassador thanked His Eminence for all the courtesies shown to him on his arrival in Rome (1).

Speaking then about Mr Sumner Welles’ next visit to Rome, the Ambassador asked His Eminence to submit the wish to the Holy Father that the honour of an audience with the Holy Father be granted to Mr Welles.  If possible, Monday would be perfect, as Mr Welles is also engaged during Saturday and Sunday with M. Mussolini and Count Ciano; furthermore it would be proper that the last conversation which Mr Welles had in Europe would be with His Holiness “thus Mr Welles’ mission would be concluded in a worthy manner and he could return to America with this thoughts elevated on to a spiritual plane” (2).

At the end of the audience Mr Welles would like to introduce Mr Moffat, Chief of the Western European Affairs Section at the American Department of State, to the Holy Father, and Mr Johnson, private secretary to Mr Welles. (3)  Ambassador Taylor expressed the wish to be present during the Audience for the prestige of his own mission’s sake.  He kept on insisting on this point.

Mr Taylor then went on to propose two points to His Eminence on which he would like to have the Holy See’s advice.

1. His Excellency, after having obtained information from all sides, is firmly convinced that for the moment everybody believes that nothing can be done regarding an initiative in favour of peace.  He would like to know if the holy See, in order to prevent the extension of the war or at least to confine it, could make a useful suggestion to be taken by the President alone, with the support of the Holy Father, or by a group of neutral states, in particular the American ones.

2. In case nothing could definitely be done at present, how could President Roosevelt help to protect Italy from the danger of being dragged into war on Germany’s side?  The Ambassador thinks that Italy’s neutrality will be very important should the war last a long time, and he would like to work in this direction.

His Eminence will bring these two points to the attention of the Hoy Father and give his considered reply to the Ambassador.

(1) On 27.02.1940 Myron Taylor was received by Pius XII in “solemn audience” and he handed to the Pope a letter from FDR. See ADSS 1.264.  After the meeting with the Pope, Taylor had a meeting with the Secretary of State for 45 minutes during which the international situation was discussed.  See FRUS 1940 Vol 1, pp 126-27.
(2) See ADSS 1.268.

(3) Jay Pierrepont Moffat (1896-1943), Chief of European Affairs 1937-40.  Hartwell Johnson (1902- ?)

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