312. Letter From Pope Paul VI to President Johnson 1
We are most grateful to you, Mr. President, for receiving Our messenger and explaining your thoughts concerning the visit We hoped to make to Vietnam.2
Our efforts have, unfortunately, met with a negative response, to the effect that, “because of the war, the conditions necessary to receive Us in the Democratic Republic of Vietnam are lacking.” Consequently, after studying all the factors involved, We have decided that We must cancel even Our planned visit to South Vietnam. Such a gesture might not favor the cause of peace, which We so ardently desire, and might even aggravate the situation. We also feel that it is necessary to preclude any hostile acts, which following on the negative answer of the Hanoi Government, could take place on the occasion of Our visit, causing the sacrifice of many innocent persons. We cannot permit that Our presence should be the cause of further suffering for a people already tried by many years of tragic war.[Page 668]
You may be assured, Mr. President, that Our efforts for peace will not be lessened as a result of the reply received; they will in fact be increased, in order that the day may be hastened when peace and its resultant benefits will be the lot of men in every part of the world.
We express Our sincere and heartfelt gratitude for your assistance in this matter, and We assure Our prayers for you, your family, and your noble nation, that Almighty God may pour upon all His richest blessings.