740.00119 European War 1939/315: Telegram

The Secretary of State to Mr. Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of the President to Pope Pius XII

4. I have been in consultation with the President, who is at Warm Springs, regarding your telegrams nos. 13 and 14, and notably your suggestion that the President send a further communication to Mussolini urging him to refrain from any belligerent activity. He has asked me to telegraph you as follows:

On two occasions the President has sent messages to Mussolini expressing satisfaction that Italy has remained out of the war and has thereby prevented its spread to other areas with its inevitable repercussions on many nations and peoples now living in peace. The first of these messages was given during the course of a conversation between the President and Prince Colonna before the trip to Europe of Mr. Welles; the second message, which was even more explicit, was given directly to Mussolini by Mr. Welles speaking under instructions from the President.15 In spite of the uncertainties of Italian policy to which you refer, there has been no change sufficiently concrete to make us feel that a useful purpose would be served at this particular moment by repeating again a message from the President that has in effect been twice delivered to Mussolini.

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Although the President feels it inadvisable to take the action you suggested at this moment, we hope that the Vatican authorities will not thereby be influenced in relation to any independent move on their part which in their judgment they feel would be useful in preventing a spread of hostilities.

You should make it clear that this Government is following the situation from day to day and that the reluctance of your Government to take the action suggested at this moment does not imply that the possibility of taking such action is not still under careful consideration. Please keep the Department advised of all developments.

The President was most encouraged at the Vatican approval of his address before the Pan American Conference.

  1. See Mr. Welles’ report of February 26, 1940, vol. i , section entitled “Special Mission to Europe of Sumner Welles, Under Secretary of State”.