Memorandum by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs (Thompson) to the Deputy Under Secretary of State (Rusk)


Subject: Public sentiment on relations with the Holy See

Ever since the announcement last January of Mr. Myron Taylor’s resignation as the President’s Personal Representative to His Holiness Pope Pius XII, there has been sporadic speculation and comment in the press on the question of future relations between the United States and the Holy See. Most of this speculation is based on an assumption that relations with the Holy See will be resumed in one form or another, and has included comment on the desirability of such relations. There has even been conjecture as to the identity of the US representative.

Until about two weeks ago, the Department, the White House, and some members of Congress have been receiving moderate amounts of mail from interested persons in this country, most of it from Methodists and Baptists opposing continuation of resumption of relations. Most of the writers were clergymen of the denominations concerned. The Department has for the past fortnight been inundated by an average of three thousand letters a day from church members; it appears that at least the Methodists and Presbyterian churches are encouraging their members to write the Department and their Congressmen opposing resumption of relations. A preliminary survey [Page 1794] fails to indicate any particular geographic center of origin; many of the letters to the Department base their argument on the “principle of separation of church and state”. The inquiries from members of Congress seeking to reply to constituents indicate that their mail deals also with the question of Senate confirmation of Mr. Taylor and a possible successor.

The Department’s stock answer prior to the recent flood of letters had been that the views of the writer were being brought to the attention of the appropriate officials of the Government. It will probably not be possible to answer all the letters that have come in recently, but an attempt is being made to cull out those from influential leaders, for acknowledgement. We are telling Congressmen and Senators who inquire that Mr. Taylor’s appointment was not submitted to the Senate for confirmation and that, as the President has said, the question of future relations is under study.