740.0011 EW 1939/34370

Memorandum by the Apostolic Delegate at Washington ( Cicognani ) to Mr. Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of President Roosevelt to Pope Pius XII 22

Inasmuch as the Chargé d’Affaires of the United States in Vatican City has communicated to the Cardinal Secretary of State the exact text of the statements issued by the President of the United States and the Honorable Secretary of State on March 13th and 14th with reference to the attitude of the Allies regarding the City of Rome, the Holy See wishes to take this occasion to recall certain considerations of paramount importance, even though it has already had occasion to stress these points in previous communications.

The City of Rome is not a “military center”. To qualify it as such can easily give rise to equivocations, and thus open the way to dangerous exaggerations as was the case with Monte Cassino, which was erroneously described as “a German fortress”.
While it does not pretend to question the value of considerations of “military necessity”, the Holy See nevertheless wishes to observe that these considerations cannot prescind from higher considerations based on the historical, moral, and religious order, and that in all military operations there must be scrupulous regard for whatever is [Page 1291] not a military objective, since with the proper precautions such objectives can be segregated from others having no military value.
Responsibility for the irreparable destruction of Rome and its monuments and for the killing of innocent victims will inevitably fall back on those who actually carry out these acts, no matter what reasons may be adduced to the contrary.
The Holy Father regards it as his sacred and bounden duty to insist on the above-mentioned considerations, first in order to fulfil his obligations as Bishop of Rome and Supreme Shepherd of the Catholic world, and likewise because of his fatherly interest in the true welfare of the American people. Military operations at variance with the principles previously enunciated provide the enemies of the Allies with most potent weapons of propaganda, and at the same time furnish the foundation for bitter recriminations in the future.
  1. Copy sent to Department from Mr. Taylor’s office on April 6, 1944.