Mr. Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of President Roosevelt to Pope Pius XII, to the President85
My Dear Mr. President: I have the honor to submit herewith an account of my audience with His Holiness, Pope Pius XII, which took place at the Vatican on July 12, 1944.
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The subject of Communism raises the question of the Russian attitude toward Poland.87 I assume the principal preoccupation of the Holy See in the Polish boundary question arises from the fact that within the territory east of the projected Curzon Line88 a portion of the population is of Roman Catholic religious persuasion. The concern of the Holy See naturally follows to protect its children in [Page 1218] the free exercise of their faith, and that assurance by Russia must be given and acted upon to guarantee them therein. The question then arises how could such guarantees be expressed and could they be relied upon?
In viewing the broader question of the Russian attitude re freedom of religion generally—following my discussion with His Holiness in 1941 and 1942, I carried on a lengthy discussion in London with Russian Ambassador Maisky.89 We reached a point where the Ambassador enquired what form of statement of assurance to be made by Marshal Stalin90 would be accepted. I did not feel competent to phrase such a vital statement without consultation. I informed His Holiness that I discussed the subject with the President of the United States, with Secretary Hull and others, including members of the Roman Catholic Hierarchy in America. The following statement was evolved:
- “Because of the loyal participation in the defense of the Fatherland by all Russian people under the direction of constituted authority in the State, the Soviet Government by interpreting and applying Article 124 of the U.S.S.R. constitution publicly proclaims complete freedom of religious teaching and freedom of worship in all Soviet territory.
- “Any abuse of these privileges, either to organize movements or incite the people to overthrow the Government, will be dealt with in each case according to law”.
I did not feel in a position to make use of this statement—anticipating as we did that I would soon be returning to the Vatican and that I would present the suggestion to His Holiness in person for his consideration.
It was hardly a subject for telegraphic correspondence.
Events prevented my return until the present time.
It would seem timely to discuss this subject now, when the British, Russian and Chinese diplomatic representatives are beginning conversations in Washington, on a preliminary draft of a plan for an International Organization to preserve the peace of the world.91
I alluded in general terms to this plan in my first and second audiences with His Holiness. It would seem that in the early stages of that discussion the question of religious freedom might well be put forward. Good faith on which such a great undertaking will need rest and on which its permanency will depend is a primary religious precept.[Page 1219]
What, then, can one suggest to Marshal Stalin? One cannot negotiate in a vacuum: a formula is essential. The dangers of inaction are often greater than mistaken methods chosen.
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Following my last audience with the Pope, I had a long discussion with Monseigneur Tardini,92 Political Adviser to the Pope, who has very pronounced ideas on Russia and the spread of Communism. He objected to item II in the formula recited on page 3 hereof, but approved item I, as did His Holiness. I have promised to give each a copy of the formula and of the accompanying statement attached hereto (marked “A”).93
I attach hereto a translation of a portion of a speech made by a communist member of the Italian Government, July 10, 1944 (marked “B”).93
I attach a memorandum regarding Communism which the Pope discussed briefly in our first audience, but which was rewritten by Monseigneur Tardini (marked “C”).
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- Copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N.Y. At the direction of the President, a draft reply was prepared for his signature in the Department of State. It does not appear, however, that the letter was sent. The President had instructed Mr. Taylor in a letter of August 3, 1944, to assure Pope Pius XII of his desire to cooperate “in all matters of mutual concern and interest” and express “appreciation of the frequent action which the Holy See has taken on its own initiative in its generous and merciful efforts to render assistance to the victims of racial and religious persecutions.” Myron C. Taylor, Wartime Correspondence between President Roosevelt and Pope Pius XII (New York, 1947), p. 113.↩
- The passages here omitted dealt with unrelated subjects.↩
- Correspondence on this subject is printed in vol. iii, pp. 1216–1446.↩
- In regard to the origin of the Curzon line, and for a description of it, see Foreign Relations, The Paris Peace Conference, 1919, vol. xiii, pp. 793–794.↩
- Ivan Mikhailovich Maisky.↩
- Iosif Vissarionovich Stalin, Chairman of the Council of People’s Commissars of the Soviet Union (Premier), Supreme Commander in Chief.↩
- For correspondence pertaining to the conference held at Dumbarton Oaks between August 21 and October 7, 1944, see vol. i, pp. 713 ff.↩
- Domenico Tardini, Papal Under Secretary of State.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Not printed.↩
- Emelyan Yarolsavsky (Minei Izraelyevich Gubelmann), Chairman of the Central Council of the Union of Militant Atheists of the Soviet Union.↩
- A book published in Moscow in July 1942, with a preface by the Patriarchal Locum Tenens Sergey, which was the first official statement about the church in many years issued by Orthodox churchmen in the Soviet Union.↩
- Concerning the dissolution of the Communist (Third) International, see Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. iii, pp. 532–543, passim. ↩