740.0011 EW 1939/33596a: Circular telegram

The Secretary of State to Diplomatic Representatives in the American Republics

For the Officer in Charge. It is obvious that the enemy is taking full advantage of the concern expressed by persons throughout the Christian world, particularly dignitaries of the Roman Catholic Church, over the threatened damage to the city of Rome and its religious and cultural monuments. During the past week, the Department and the White House have received a number of messages from leading Church dignitaries in the other American republics urging that Rome be spared any damage.

In this connection, you will have noted the statements made by the Secretary of State and the President which were quoted in full in Radio Bulletins 62 and 63 respectively.20 The position taken in the statements places responsibility for inflicting the damages of war upon Rome directly upon the Nazi forces which are using Rome for military purposes and to kill United Nations’ soldiers.

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Although it is unlikely, in view of the message broadcast by the Pope on March 12,21 that any high Church dignitaries would feel free to depart from the tenor of the Pope’s remarks, please give your serious and urgent attention to the possibility of discreetly stimulating some comment on the part of high public officials, cultural leaders, and prominent newspapers which will clarify the point that so long as the Nazis continue to use Rome for military purposes, they must be condemned for placing Christian shrines in jeopardy, and that only by victory over Nazism can we preserve Christian civilization. Apologetic tone should of course be strictly avoided.

Any published comments should be reported to the Department and cabled by the Coordination Committee directly to the Coordinator’s Office for short-wave broadcasts. Your comment on public reaction to this situation, and our handling of it will be welcome.

  1. For statements of Secretary Hull and President Roosevelt, see telegram 9, March 17, to Mr. Tittmann, p. 1286.
  2. For text of the Pope’s message, see the New York Times, March 13, 1944, p. 6.