307. Letter From President Johnson to Pope Paul VI 1
Upon his return from Rome, my friend, James Rowe, flew here to my ranch in Texas to report to me on his discussion with you at the Audience you so graciously consented to give him at my request despite the short notice.2
For the sentiments you expressed to him I am most grateful and appreciative. I feel also it would have been far better for the cause of World Peace had the United States been able to announce it would accept a Christmas Truce in response to the request of Your Holiness. We would then have been responding to the moral suggestion of the Leader of World Peace.
Unfortunately, as you now know, the North Vietnamese Government for its own propaganda purposes—and, I desperately hope, a little because of its war weariness—publicly offered a Christmas Truce a few days ago. Because of the propaganda implications, my Government has felt it must acknowledge and accept the Truce as soon as possible.
We were thus unable to make the arrangements as to time which you had discussed with Mr. Rowe. As soon as I reached this decision that we had to respond promptly to the public offer of North Viet-Nam I directed my Government to inform the Vatican in advance.
I want to assure Your Holiness once again that I bow to no one in my sincere and deep desire for peace. I will make any effort, take any step and go any place which will advance the cause of a just peace. [Page 652] This I think Your Holiness knows, just as you understand so well that in the struggle over Viet-Nam the United States is not the aggressor.
Again let me thank you for your graciousness and kindness to me. I am particularly grateful for your prayers, and I ask that you continue to pray for me.