The Chargé in the Soviet Union ( Kennan ) to the Secretary of State

No. 1218

Sir: I have the honor to refer to the Department’s Airgram No. 19 of May 6, 194398 concerning the status in Moscow of Reverend Leopold Braun.

In connection with the 11th anniversary of the resumption of relations between the United States and the Soviet Union99 Father Braun addressed a letter to the Embassy, a copy of which is attached.98 In reply to this letter he was invited to call at the Embassy, which he did on November 14th. I discussed with him the various matters which he had in mind. His principal difficulty, and the only one on which he had any definite request to make, concerned his ecclesiastical status. He considers that he is by rights apostolic administrator in Moscow. The Soviet authority recently established for the conduct of relations between the Soviet state and religious bodies within the Soviet Union has been unwilling to recognize him in this capacity. Father Braun feels that he should at least be recognized in this capacity by the American Embassy.

I explained to Father Braun that the Embassy could not be concerned in this question which would have to remain a matter for himself and the Soviet authorities. Father Braun said that he realized this, but that he would wish at least to be known to the Embassy in the capacity which he considers himself to enjoy here. I suggested to him that he might wish to ask his ecclesiastical superiors to consider informing our Government, for its information, of their conception of his status, although I stressed that the way in which he was known to us could have no practical consequences with respect to his status with the Soviet authorities.

Father Braun understands clearly, I think, that the United States Government and this Embassy cannot take any step to influence his status in the Soviet Union. On the other hand, he must be known to the Embassy in one ecclesiastical status or another, and I can see no objection to our Government’s taking note, and informing the Embassy, of any communication which the competent authorities of Father Braun’s church might wish to make on this subject. The Embassy would be glad to take cognizance of any information it receives through proper channels on this subject, although it would of course [Page 1223] not be possible to use this mode of address until Father Braun could arrange for the recognition of this status by the Soviet authorities.

Respectfully yours,

George F. Kennan
  1. Not printed.
  2. For correspondence on this subject, see Foreign Relations, The Soviet Union, 1933–1939, pp. 1 ff.
  3. Not printed.