No. 461


Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Western European Affairs (Byington) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Perkins) and Deputy Assistant Secretary of State (Bonbright) for European Affairs

top secret

Subject: Visit of Msgr. Montini to the United States

In the course of a conversation regarding Trieste, Mr. Luciolli referred to the visit to this country of Msgr. Montini. He said that he [Page 1002] had heard reports that the Vatican was interested in studying the possibility of establishing in Canada or elsewhere in the Western Hemisphere a headquarters which could be used for the administration of Vatican affairs in the event of war. He had no information with regard to the authenticity of these reports, and as was customary, the Vatican scrupulously refrained from personally conferring with the Italian Government on such matters, as well as the trip of Msgr. Montini. We all know that the Pope had declared he would remain in Rome. Mr. Luciolli did by chance have a conversation with Msgr. Montini and he thought these two comments which Msgr. Montini made to him, ostensibly not for communication to the American Government, might be of interest to us.

Msgr. Montini expressed the concern of the Vatican with regard to the gradual widening of the gulf between the Vatican and United States Government since the abrupt withdrawal of Mr. Taylor.1 The continued absence of any step toward the resumption of relations could not but in the long run have an adverse effect on the general attitude all over the world of the Catholic priests toward the United States and indirectly our policies, which seemed to Msgr. Montini a result to be avoided. Msgr. Montini also said that should a general war break out it would then not be possible for the Vatican to receive an accredited representative of the United States, since it would be a firm and traditional policy of the Vatican to abstain from any act which might indicate overt participation in the struggle.

  1. On January 18, 1950, Myron C. Taylor, Personal Representative of the President to the Holy See, resigned and President Truman accepted his resignation that same day. No successor had yet been appointed.