The Ambassador in Italy (Long) to the Acting Secretary of State

No. 81

Sir: I have the honor to inform the Department that the Concordat between Germany and the Vatican, referred to in my despatch No. 71 of July 7, 1933,83 was initialled on July 8th by the German Vice Chancellor, von Papen, and the Papal Secretary of State, Cardinal Pacelli. Following the initialling of the Concordat, Herr von Papen, who departed immediately afterward for Germany and who will return in about two weeks’ time for the formal signature,84 made the following statement to the press:

“The Concordat between the Holy See and the German Reich has been approved today, is historically important, since for the first time since the foundation of the Reich the latter has regulated its relations with the Holy See, whereas heretofore this matter had been left to the jurisdiction of the individual states of Germany. No less important, however, is the fact that the two highest authorities upon whose cooperation the welfare of the people depends—namely the Church and the State—ensure by this agreement their respective spheres of influence as established by God and reciprocally delimit them in order more harmoniously to serve the spiritual, cultural, and national interests of the country. The clear definition of respective competences will in the future eliminate all conflict between Church and State. I am accordingly convinced that the Concordat just concluded will favor the spiritual mission of the Church and contribute greatly to the internal peace of the German people and the future of the new State.”

Since the new Concordat, it is said, includes all the guarantees made to Catholics by concordats now in existence between the Holy See and [Page 300] individual German State, practically it replaces, although formally it does not annul, these. The agreement, no text of which is as yet available,85 is stated to cover the following points:

The Church guarantees that priests and religious associations will not carry on political activity.

The State agrees to the continuance of Catholic religious associations whether clerical or laic, as long as they do not have political aims. A list of associations to which the provision is to be applied will be drawn up through an agreement between the authorities of the German Government and the Vatican and will be inserted in the Concordat when it is formally signed.

Religious instruction in elementary schools will be compulsory, but will be protestant or catholic according to the faith of the majority of the children in the school district. This does not, however, apply to the minority, who will receive religious instruction in their own faith apart.

The Pope has full liberty to appoint bishops, the Government holding no power of veto. In practice, however, the present custom of consulting the Government will be followed.

Civil marriage by a magistrate will still be required in addition to the religious ceremony.

Respectfully yours,

Breckinridge Long
  1. Not printed.
  2. The Concordat was formally signed on July 20, and the exchange of ratifications took place in Rome on September 10, 1933 (762.66A/15, 19).
  3. For text signed at Vatican City, July 20, 1933, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxxxvi, p. 697.