Memorandum by the Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Perkins) to the Secretary of State 1


Subject: Relations with the Holy See and with Leaders of Protestant Faiths

In response to your inquiry,2 it would not be practicable to parallel establishment of diplomatic relations with the Holy See by the appointment of a corresponding emissary to a Protestant agency such as the World Council of Churches. The World Council is an association of denominations without reference to nationality and not a sovereign entity like the Holy See. Mr. Taylor looked into this question and reported to the President that the Council would not accept representatives of governments.

If it were decided to establish diplomatic relations with the Holy See, American Protestant opposition might be mitigated through designation of a Special or Personal Assistant to the President for the [Page 1793] specific purpose of maintaining contact with faiths other than Roman Catholic. A less controversial solution would be for the President to designate a single person as his personal representative in dealings both with the Holy See and with other faiths.

The latter course was essentially that followed with Mr. Taylor, who did meet frequently with Protestant groups and devoted considerable effort with limited success in promoting cooperation between them and the Catholic Church. It would probably be desirable that this aspect of the work of a successor to Mr. Taylor be given more emphasis and be more widely publicized than was the case in the past. Bishop Oxnam,3 one of the leading critics of Mr. Taylor’s mission to the Vatican, advised Mr. Taylor that opposition would be greatly lessened if his designation were changed to “Representative to the Religious Peoples of the World.”

  1. An earlier draft of this memorandum, dated February 2, not printed, is in file 765A.02/2–250.
  2. The inquiry under reference here has not been identified further.
  3. G. Bromley Oxnam, Bishop of the Methodist Church at 150 Fifth Ave., New York City.