864.404/1–349: Telegram

The Acting Representative at Vatican City (Gowen 1) to the Acting Secretary of State

top secret

1. Deptel 32, December 31, Mindszenty case.2 Today I called on Tardini,3 Vatican Acting Secretary State, to seek his reaction. He said:

  • “(1) Communist program and methods directed by Moscow were well known to Vatican quite sometime before other sources showed concern for grave Communist threat to fundamental human rights and democratic institutions;
  • “(2) Same ruthless methods are followed by Tito who is constantly persecuting and arresting Catholic priests because they will not yield to Communist pressure;
  • “(3) The reaction of free civilized world against Mindszenty’s arrest has been immediate widespread and beneficial;
  • “(4) Statement by President Truman on Mindszenty timely highly effective and very fair;
  • “(5) Not only Catholic clergy and associations but also many non-religious institutions, eminent personalities, and innumerable private individuals all parts free world have sent telegrams to Vatican and Hungarian Government deploring Mindszenty’s arrest.

“While free press has unanimously deplored his arrest Communist led press is directing violent and cynical attacks against Vatican. Unita, Communist newspaper Rome, openly threatened Catholic Church but these shameful and iniquitous Communist utterances have only increased reaction of free people everywhere. Tardini considers line taken by US in this case very sound indeed and most gratifying. He has no suggestions to make as to press treatment reaction of free world having been most heartening. Department may wish repeat substance foregoing London, Budapest. Tardini expressed warm appreciation our sympathy and support it being understood conversation was secret and no public reference thereto would be made.”

  1. Franklin C. Gowen, Special Assistant to Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of President Truman to Pope Pius XII.
  2. In his telegram 72, December 30, 1948, from Vatican City, not printed, Gowen transmitted the text of a note of December 30 from the Vatican Secretariat of State calling attention to the arrest of Cardinal Mindszenty (864.404/12–3049). Telegram 33, December 31, 1948, to Vatican City, not printed, authorized Gowen to acknowledge receipt of the note (864.404/12–3148). In a note of January 3 to the Vatican Secretariat of State, not printed, Gowen observed that the Vatican note had been noted “with sympathy and understanding” and invited attention to the statements made by Acting Secretary Lovett and President Truman (see the editorial note, p. 451). The texts of the exchange of notes of December 30 and January 3 were transmitted to the Department of State as enclosures to despatch 1, January 4, from Vatican City, not printed (864.404/1–1449).

    Not printed, but see footnote 4 to telegram 1231, December 31, to Budapest, supra.

  3. Msgr. Domenico Tardini, Secretary for Extraordinary Affairs in the Vatican Secretariat of State.