740.00116 European War 1939/642

Mr. Harold H. Tittmann, Assistant to the President’s Personal Representative to Pope Pius XII, to the Secretary of State

No. 117

Sir: With reference to my telegrams nos. 161 of September 29 and 166 of October 6,16 as well as to my despatch no. 114 of September 15,17 reporting the progress of the initiative of the Brazilian Ambassador to the Holy See in endeavoring to persuade the Pope to condemn publicly Nazi atrocities against the civil populations in the areas occupied by the Germans, I have the honor to transmit herewith the texts,17 in the Spanish language, of the first person Notes on the subject which were addressed to the Cardinal Secretary of State by the Peruvian Ambassador and the Cuban Chargé d’Affaires on September 17 and 23, respectively.

It would appear that M. Accioly’s efforts are having the full and active support of the Jesuits.…

I understand that the Pope is giving careful consideration to the matter and the general impression is that he will say something at an opportune moment. Opinion in the Vatican seems to be divided as to the wisdom of the Accioly démarche.…

[Page 777]

The Holy See is still apparently convinced that a forthright denunciation by the Pope of Nazi atrocities, at least in so far as Poland is concerned, would only result in the violent deaths of many more people. Mgr. Montini,18 however, stated to me that the time may come when, in spite of such a grievous prospect, the Holy Father will feel himself obliged to speak out.

In addition to the reasons enumerated in my despatch no. 109 of September 8, 1942,19 another motive, possibly the controlling one, behind the Pope’s disinclination to denounce Nazi atrocities is his fear that if he does so now, the German people, in the bitterness of their defeat, will reproach him later on for having contributed, if only indirectly, to this defeat. It has been pointed out to me that just such an accusation was directed against the Holy See by the Germans after the last war, because of certain phrases spoken and attitudes adopted by Benedict XV while hostilities were in progress. When it is borne in mind that Pius XII had many years of conditioning in Germany, it will not seem unnatural that he should be particularly sensible to this particular argument.

Respectfully yours,

Harold H. Tittmann
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Not printed.
  4. Giovanni Montini, Papal Under Secretary of State.
  5. Not printed.