Sunday, July 30, 2017
ADSS 1.280 Maglione notes: situation with L'Osservatore Romano
\ADSS 1.280 Luigi Maglione, Sec State, notes
Reference: AES 3215/40
Location and date: Vatican, 10.04.1940
Summary statement: Dino Alfieri, Italian ambassador, complains about the attitude of L’Osservatore Romano which is promoting peace. Maglione defended the Holy See’s position and its freedom of expression.
The Italian Ambassador, on behalf of Count Ciano, and therefor of Mussolini, tells me that in many parts of Italy demonstrations and speeches in favour of peace are held in the churches, probably on the Vatican’s instructions.
Such demonstrations, in these days in which political events develop with a tremendous speed and while the Government tries to prepare peoples’ minds to be ready for possible developments, appear to be a peace at any price attitude in contrast with Government policy, which follows the vents with vigilant concern.
L’Osservatore Romano, a much read Italian paper, follows a different policy from that of the Italian Press in general; it should be more moderate in its statements and less long-winded and more impartial in reporting war news.
To these statements, the substance of which I have just reported, I replied as follows:
Please inform Count Ciano:
1. that the Holy See has not given instructions to intensify the alleged demonstrations in favour of peace, either directly or through the Bishops;
2. that there is no need to suppose that instructions have been given to explain the prayers and the desire for peace and tranquillity for which the yearning of the people increases every day. The desire for peace is very deep and widespread in Italy. It is very natural, and it should have been foreseen, that this eager desire for peace should not be expressed in more frequent appeals and prayers for peace – now that everybody – none excepted – see the rapidly growing danger of war;
3. L’Osservatore Romano, although printed in Italian is an organ of the Holy See, and cannot be confused with the Italian newspapers. If, at the present time, it expresses different opinions from those of the Italian papers as the Ambassador confirms it is not because the paper has changed its policy, but only because lately the Italian newspapers are trying to inflame public opinion. I do not discuss this phenomenon: I leave the responsibility for this to the people who have decided on this policy. But I must draw attention to the fact the L’Osservatore Romano cannot follow the other newspapers on the line of thought which has been imposed on them.
I have always advised L’Osservatore to be prudent, objective and moderate in its articles and in reporting the news. I have no difficulty repeating this advice, as I do from time to time.
But it would be well to reflect for a moment on the fact that if it is a duty for L’Osservatore to follow its own policy this also is in in the interest of Italy: L’Osservatore Romano will be recognised everywhere, and especially abroad, as the true, impartial, serene, independent organ of the Holy See: only under these conditions could it say, if necessary, a word of truth and justice in favour of Italy.
As he took his leave, the Ambassador wanted to assure me that Count Ciano will continue his action.