Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador at Large (Jessup)


Participants: Dr. Walter Van Kirk, Executive Secretary, The Federal Council of Churches of Christ in America
Philip C. Jessup, S/A

Dr. Van Kirk stopped in to see me this afternoon. He said that the Federal Council had hoped to have an opportunity to speak with the Secretary but quite understood the impossibility of his fitting another appointment into his schedule. What concerns them is the question of the possible appointment of an Ambassador to the Vatican. Dr. Van Kirk made it clear that he personally does not share the violence of the views among many Protestant leaders on this subject but wanted to make it plain that the volume of pressure on this question is very great indeed. He said the Federal Council had so far been able to restrain those who were urging violent action but he did not know how much longer they could do this. He said that their delegations had been received by the President twice and understood that the President would make no final move on this matter without letting them know. He said that their Executive Committee is to meet next week and that the leaders will have difficulty in explaining why they are not taking vigorous action on the matter.

I told him that as an old Presbyterian I had always considered that the question was a political and not a religious one but that I had [Page 1798] become familiar with the intensity of the feeling through studying the outcry against Taft’s mission to the Vatican to negotiate the settlement of the Friars’ lands in the Philippines nearly fifty years ago.

Dr. Van Kirk said that the feeling was much the same now except that it was more intense. He agreed that it was not a matter susceptible to rational argument but was distinctly an emotional question with those who were chiefly worked up about it. His visit was entirely on a most friendly personal basis intended to make clear to us the seriousness of the opposition which would develop if an Ambassador were nominated. He mentioned that among many of the Protestant churchmen there is a feeling that the Secretary himself favors the appointment of an Ambassador.

Philip C. Jessup