740.0011 European War 1939/33642

The Apostolic Delegate at Washington (Cicognani) to the Secretary of State

My Dear Mr. Secretary: I must ask your kind indulgence for resuming so soon the theme of my letter of March 18th, expressing some concern of the Holy See. But the Cardinal Secretary of State has just sent me a further communication, and I think it well at the present time to keep you informed.

In the consciousness of his exalted spiritual mission, the Holy Father is unwilling to assume the responsibility of not having made known the truth, or of having neglected to exhort all belligerents to sentiments of humane consideration for the dangers and difficulties of civilian populations in all war areas. It is for these reasons that His Holiness desires, through this communication, to open his whole mind before his beloved people of America and before the President of the United States.

Cardinal Maglione points out that it is there the prevailing conviction that adequate precautionary measures would make it possible to limit aerial attacks strictly to objectives of military importance. This particular point was stressed in some detail in my letter of March 18th.

His Eminence also emphasizes that the continued bombings of Rome are lowering the prestige of the Allies, embittering a populace [Page 1290] otherwise well disposed, and producing the further effect of fomenting Communism which is already rife in the great mass of the people.

He adds that in the bombardment of Rome on March 18th, the homes of numerous civilians were hit, while the large general hospital of Rome, known as the “Policlinico”, as well as other smaller hospitals, was seriously damaged. Because of this fact, many persons were killed outright, and the necessary work of providing medical assistance for the wounded and the dying was rendered particularly difficult.

The Cardinal Secretary avails himself of this present communication to remark the fact that Allied aircraft still fly over the territory of the Vatican City State. His Eminence wishes to bring this to the attention of the United States Government, which has given repeated assurances that the neutrality of the Vatican would be duly respected, particularly in view of the danger of crashing planes, or of the accidental or forced release of bombs in an emergency.

With sentiments of high personal regard and with every best wish I remain

Sincerely yours,

A. G. Cicognani

Archbishop of Laodicea