765A.11/1–1651: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Dunn) to the Embassy in Portugal 1

top secret

13. For MacArthur. Not having heard further from you re audience we assume it is agreeable to General Eisenhower that no further steps be taken. In explaining Pope’s reluctance grant audience Vatican source said decision based on previous schedule for annual retreat and announcement January 10 that all audiences would be suspended during period January 13 to 20 inclusive. Source also implied some concern that Commie inspired demonstrations might occur and be associated with audiences. Source inquired whether audience planned from beginning of trip and whether we believed it essential to accomplishment of mission. After consulting Colonel Usera we said question of audience had arisen after press speculation based on Vatican AP story when General Eisenhower had expressed desire to pay his respects [Page 430] to Pope if possible. (Oslo telegram 721 to Department January 13.2)

In last night’s Observatore Romano there appeared prominent notice of commencement of Pope’s retreat which concluded with statement “during these days as we have already announced all audiences have been suspended”.

If General Eisenhower or his staff receive any further press questions suggest that reply be substantially: “General Eisenhower does not expect to have an audience with Pope since he has now learned that Pope has suspended all audiences for this week during which he is making his annual retreat”. If further questions should be asked as to whether audience was requested answer could be in negative and exploratory conversations which we have had should be considered merely as sounding out the Vatican rather than as request for audience. This is particularly important because this Embassy has no formal relations with Vatican and no public indication should be given that we made an approach. Naturally moreover, Vatican does not wish to have impression get out that audience was requested and denied since our Vatican source said, Pope did not wish to give impression that he was opposed to General Eisenhower’s mission.

  1. This telegram was repeated to Paris for General Schuyler and to the Department of State, the source text printed here.
  2. This telegram, which was sent from Oslo to Rome as 1 and repeated to the Department of State as 721, is not printed. It stated that during his forthcoming visit to Rome, January 17–18, General Eisenhower hoped to be able to have an audience with the Pope. It suggested that Ambassador Dunn approach the Vatican and explain the General’s desire to call on the Pope on the morning of January 18 to pay his respects shortly before departing for London. (740.5/1–1351)