865.00/12–1147: Telegram

Mr. J. Graham Parsons, Assistant to the Personal Representative of President Truman to Pope Pius XII, to the Secretary of State


49. In last few days Vatican contacts have shown anxiety as to manner in which Italian Government and people will face up to major Communist effort to win power which they consider imminent. Despite its outcome Troilo incident at Milan1 is regretted as successful test of Communist strength and discipline. They regard threat as almost wholly internal, not external, at present. Their diagnosis of situation at all points where this office has been able to learn it from Tardini2 and Montini,3 the Vatican Under Secretaries of State, and others close to Pope, accords with that of Embassy Rome. Understandably in view their desire for US support of Italy which ipso facto adds to security of Vatican City, they do not understate the picture.

Their remedy is two fold, first a strong stand by government as in France wherever strikes and disorders take on rebellious character, and second, organization of reliable elements for service in negating expected Communist efforts to paralyze nation. Pope on December 8 exhorted Catholic Action Youth of Rome to personal courage in face of any odds and identified Catholic actions nonpolitical activities on behalf of Church with “civil order, justice and peace”.

While no Vatican contact has yet said so directly, it seems certain that Vatican view of need for firm policy both in action and in public expressions must have reached Italian Government with increasing insistence these past few days. Moreover, as highest Vatican officials have long regretted departure US troops at this time, it may be assumed Vatican has also urged government to consider what further US aid may be secured in all likely contingencies. Only yesterday Tardini said that despite relative proximity of USSR, noncommunist majority [Page 746] in Italy would welcome any necessary US intervention in Italian internal affairs because majority’s interest in this crisis is identical to that of US.

  1. Ettore Troilo was a political appointee to the office of Prefect of the Province of Milan. The move of the central government to tranfser him resulted in a general strike in Milan and the temporary occupation of the prefecture (November 28). The general strike was suspended and the release of Troilo was effected after intervention of the Under Secretary of the Ministry of the Interior, Achille Marazza.

    In telegram 3933, December 3, from Rome, not printed, the Embassy commented: “Troilo is certainly a fellow traveller. He was a leader during days of clandestine military activity of Committee of National Liberation for Northern Italy which established a quasi-government organization that continued to have effective power for several months after VE Day. Troilo, who was acceptable to CLNAI, succeeded the first post-war Milan prefect, Riccardo Lombardi, when latter was brought to Rome as Minister of Transport in January 1946. Troilo was ‘political’ rather than career appointee.…” (865.00/12–347)

  2. Domenico Tardini, Secretary, Congregation of Ecclesiastical Extraordinary Affairs.
  3. Giovanni Battista Montini, Vatican Secretary of State.