File No. 763.72119/749
The Chargé in Italy ( Jay ) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 22, 1.20 a.m.]
1062. Department’s confidential circular regarding Pope’s peace note received to-day via Paris. Have just had interview with the Minister for Foreign Affairs whom I informed of President’s desire that his views would be considered confidential. Baron Sonnino said substantially as follows:
Note should not be taken too seriously, Italian Government thinks less hurry [required?], waiting to see trend of public opinion in Italy and elsewhere and if a reply must be given will previously consult Allies. Move evidently instigated by Germany and carried to Vatican through Austria, Empress of Austria being friend of Pope. Pope himself is possibly unconsciously being made use of. Note is vague and gives no basis of negotiation with Italy. Austrian press now allowed to declare Austria can [omission] mutual interest. Note creates difficulty with Catholic Party in Italy which is steadily taking greater part in internal affairs, and is also an attempt to steal effect of possible Socialist success in Stockholm peace move and to depress public towards inevitable winter campaign. Question of reply especially difficult for Italy in view of her relations with Vatican.
Baron Sonnino has the personal impression that a good firm reply drawn up by President sent in advance of the other Allied replies would greatly impress public opinion especially in view of our previously well-known desire for peace.
I asked him twice if I could telegraph the above paragraph regarding our replying first. He agreed, repeating they were his personal views.