740.0011 European War 3939/33424

The Apostolic Delegate at Washington (Cicognani) to President Roosevelt

Mr. President: I have been informed by His Eminence, the Cardinal Secretary of State, that for some days past Allied aeroplanes have undertaken an almost continuous bombardment and machine-gunning of sections of Rome, especially at the outskirts but also within the city proper. Notable damage has been caused to civilian buildings and to some churches. The recently reconstructed Hospice of Santa [Page 1278] Galla, which is the property of the Holy See, has also been seriously damaged.

His Eminence notes that since Rome was declared an open city by the Badoglio9 Government last August it has been left practically without any antiaircraft defense, and is not equipped with suitable air raid shelters. The population of the peripheral zones of Rome consists largely of working people among whom there already have been many victims.

In view of the foregoing and particularly in consideration of the sacred character of Rome, the center of Catholicism, the Holy Father as Bishop of the Eternal City, in his profound grief for the suffering population which has already been so sorely tried, ardently desires the cessation of these bombardments. His Holiness therefore, through me, addresses his personal and urgent appeal to Your Excellency, as President of the United States, for this purpose.

In this tragic hour the eyes not only of almost four hundred million Catholics, but of all of those who have God in their thoughts and who appreciate the spiritual values of life, are turned with anxiety to the Sovereign Pontiff. Destruction and ruin are being heaped upon Italy in these days. The entire population is subjected to the most extreme hardships of war. Without hope of helping itself the nation is forced to witness the obliteration of so many of its treasures of religion, art and culture which it has fondly safeguarded throughout the centuries not only for itself but for the world. What will be the judgment of centuries to come if now even Rome itself, whose very name is the symbol of our civilization, should be included among the ruins of the present war?

To Your Excellency, who has on many occasions manifested your noble concern for the city of Rome and for the suffering, I address this appeal, at the direction of the Holy Father and in his august name. With a grieving heart and with a cry that springs from the depths of his paternal soul the Sovereign Pontiff invokes Your Excellency’s intervention that Rome may be spared from the horror and destruction of further aerial attacks.

With the assurances of my highest consideration and of my deep personal regard, I have the honor to remain

Respectfully yours,

[A. G. Cicognani]

Archbishop of Laodicea
  1. Pietro Badoglio, Head of the Italian Government.