Memorandum of Conversation, by the Acting Secretary of State

Monsignbr Vagnozzi,25 Auditor of the Apostolic Delegation, called, upon me this afternoon at his request.

Monsignor Vagnozzi informed me that the Apostolic Delegate26 had been obliged to leave the city and had requested Monsignor Vagnozzi to see me in his stead.

Monsignor Vagnozzi handed me the attached memorandum.27 When I had read the memorandum I said that I felt it necessary to state With all of the emphasis of which I was capable and with the utmost sincerity that I felt that this decision on the part of the Holy See was deplorable in as much as, in my judgment, it would create a profound reaction on the part of the people of the United States, and a similar reaction on the part of the people in many other countries including all of the United Nations.

I said that at the very moment when the Japanese were committing unspeakable atrocities on the civilian populations throughout the regions they were now ravaging, when in the Philippines they had desecrated and violated churches and Catholic communities, and when the announced purpose of Japan’s military leaders was to drive the [Page 780] influence of the white race from the Far East, including, obviously and principally, the influence of Christianity among the populations of Asia, for the Holy See for the first time in its history to receive a diplomatic mission from Japan seemed to me an incredible step.

Monsignor Vagnozzi evidently agreed with me in toto. He said he feared a disastrous effect on public opinion in this country.

I said he was by no means understating the case. I said that I hoped, if it was not already too late, that the Holy Father and the Cardinal Secretary of State would reconsider this matter.

Monsignor Vagnozzi went on to say that the step had been taken by the Vatican upon the urgent recommendations of the Apostolic Delegate in Tokyo and members of the hierarchy in occupied China who insisted that if the agreement of the Vatican was not given, Catholic Japanese and particularly Catholic Chinese would be massacred by the thousands and missions and churches would be destroyed.

I said I had no evidence, judging from the history of the past few years, that measures of appeasement of this character would have the slightest effect.

I said that I would like to have an opportunity of talking with the Apostolic Delegate after his return to Washington and that as soon as he was well enough, I would be glad to call upon him.

Monsignor Vagnozzi told me that he would communicate to the Vatican by telegram the views which I had expressed to him.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Egidio Vagnozzi.
  2. Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicognani.
  3. Infra.