302. Memorandum From the President’s Special Assistant for National Security Affairs (Bundy) to President Johnson 1

Talking Points with the Pope

I attach Dean Rusk’s memorandum of talking points,2 and I will try to give a summary in this covering note.

A. Points that can be on the record and reported later by Bill Moyers


The Pope is here to emphasize his interest in peace and in the United Nations as an instrument of peace. You and he can certainly agree with emphasis on this subject.

As part of this common concern for peace, you may want to emphasize your concern for disarmament. In Bombay last December, the Pope appealed to all nations to divert part of their arms expenditure toward a world fund for relief and medical care. You may wish to say that nothing would give you greater satisfaction and that the whole effort of the United States is to move in this direction just as fast as the actions of others permit it.

You and the Pope can surely agree also on the value of informal personal contact like this meeting.
The Pope and you can certainly note that this conversation is a natural sequence to the talks which President Kennedy had with the Pope on July 2, 1963.3
You and the Pope are not discussing diplomatic relations or population control or any of the specific issues for the Vatican Council4 or the American Congress. (These are the sensitive subjects that reporters may press Bill on, and I think we would want to make an explicit denial on all of them. The one subject you might wish to hedge is population control, where Bill might turn the question and say that you and the Pope obviously expressed concern for improving the lot of the hungry and the poor in every nation.)

B. Off-the-record Points

It is of great importance to impress the Pope with our passion for peace in Vietnam, and everywhere else. There have been faint indications that not all Vatican circles are persuaded on this point.
I think you will want to express your appreciation to the Pope for his prompt and effective help in specific situations in Santo Domingo and in Saigon. Archbishop Clarizio in Santo Domingo, and two successive Papal Nuncios in Saigon, have been very helpful to us in tight political situations, and this has been the direct result of the sympathetic interest of His Holiness. We are grateful.
You may wish to speak to the Pope about the Alliance for Progress and emphasize the importance which progressive Catholic efforts can have in this area. Some of our people think that the church has been a shade less progressive in Latin America under Pope Paul, and a word from you would be helpful if you think it wise.
Our Jewish friends would be grateful if they could be told afterwards that you have expressed appreciation to His Holiness for the efforts of the Vatican Council on the “Jewish guilt” question.5 The present situation is that the Council will have before it both last year’s relatively progressive declaration, and an amended version which is slightly less desirable from the Jewish point of view. We will certainly not wish to choose up sides on this one, and Lee White tells me that the fundamental point is that the Council is dealing with the matter at all. (If time presses, it might be simpler to avoid this very complex subject. [Page 643] Many of the Pope’s people will be edgy about any comment at all from Americans.)
Cardinal Mindszenty.6 Properly speaking, the Pope should raise this one, since we are doing a lot for the Cardinal. If he does, you may wish to underline urgently the fact that it really is time for the Cardinal to be removed from our Legation in Budapest. Only the Pope can do it—and even he will have trouble.

Since you and Bill Moyers are much better judges than I of exactly what should be said after this meeting, I have not attempted a press briefing paper. Instead, I have given Bill and Jack Valenti copies so that they will know the diplomatic background as I understand it.

McG. B. 7
  1. Source: Johnson Library, National Security File, Country File, Vatican, Vol. 1. No classification marking. A notation on the memorandum indicates that the President saw it.
  2. Not printed.
  3. No record of this conversation was found.
  4. The Second Vatican Council, dedicated to “modernization” (aggiornamento) of the doctrine and structures of the Roman Catholic Church, had been in session in Rome since 1963.
  5. The Council rejected the concept of “Jewish guilt” and condemned anti-Semitism in its “Declaratio de Libertate Religiosa ‘Dignitas Humanae’,” approved December 8, 1965.
  6. See Foreign Relations, 1964–1968, vol. XVII, Documents 100 ff.
  7. Printed from a copy that bears these typed initials.