No. 464


Intelligence Report Prepared by the Office of Intelligence Research in the Department of State1

No. 5710.1

Anticipated Foreign Reactions to Establishment of U.S. Diplomatic Relations With the Vatican

While predominantly Catholic countries will look with approval upon the establishment of diplomatic relations with the Vatican by the United States, such a move will not appreciably affect their attitudes toward the US or their relations with this country. Non-Catholic countries may be expected to regard this step with general indifference.

Of the predominantly Roman Catholic countries, Spain is likely to be most favorable to a US-Vatican diplomatic tie. The Italian Government, led by Christian Democrats, as well as influential Catholic groups in Italy, would also be pleased by the establishment of a US diplomatic mission at the Vatican. In the remainder of Western Europe, it would probably have little if any effect upon official and popular attitudes toward the US, with the possible exception of devout Catholic elements.

It is likely that the Latin American countries will react favorably to the creation of a US diplomatic post at the Vatican, but it is doubtful that this move will make any appreciable difference in Latin American attitudes toward the US.

In the Middle East, notwithstanding the Vatican’s involvement in the question of Jerusalem’s internationalization, local attitudes toward the US are unlikely to be affected by the appointment of a US Ambassador to the Vatican. Similarly, this move will have no perceptible effect upon US relations with Far Eastern countries, although it is almost certain that the Chinese Communists will use the occasion to embellish their propaganda against “Catholic spies.”

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Neither will the formal establishment of US relations with the Vatican be a significant factor in the formulation of Soviet policy toward this country, although the Soviet Union will undoubtedly attempt to exploit such action in its propaganda, where it has for some time linked the Holy See with “American imperialism.” Such propaganda may be expected to charge that US mission at the Vatican will facilitate the promotion of subversive activities by the Church against Eastern European satellite governments.

Throughout the free world, it is likely that many elements including Catholic clergy and laymen would prefer that the US base its relationship with the Vatican primarily on considerations of peace and humanitarianism. Emphasis by the US on the role of a representative at the Vatican in coordinating the struggle against Communism may be regarded by these groups as an indication of a provocative US policy toward the Soviet Union. In this connection, it is significant that the leading Catholic newspapers in Italy, the semi-official Vatican daily L’Osservatore Romano and the Catholic Action Quotidiano, have either ignored or rejected the anti-Communist argument and have emphasized that the appointment of a US Ambassador would be “a good omen for the cause of peace and humanity.”

  1. The following statement is printed on the source text: “This is an intelligence report and not a statement of Department policy.”