Page 6, 9th May 1947

9th May 1947
Page 6
Page 6, 9th May 1947 — The Correspondence Between the Pope and President Roosevelt

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Organisations: Soviet Government


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The Correspondence Between the Pope and President Roosevelt

44 •

is well that we encourage a closer association between those in every part of the world —those in religion and those in government—who have a common purpose," the late President Franklin D. Roosevelt, wrote in his first communication to Pius XII in December. 1939, announcing that he wished to send his personal representative to the Vatican in order that our parallel endeavours for peace and the alleviation of suffering may be assisted."

This is one of the letters in the correspondence between the late President and • the Holy Father, during the period from 1939 to President Roosevelt's death in April, 1945, as set forth in the volume, Wartime Correspondence Between President Roosevelt and Pork' Pius X11.* I he Holy Father characterised President Roosevelt's wish to send his personal representative to the Vatican as " an exemplary act of fraternal and hearty solidarity between the New and the Old World " and observed that a only he will be able to discern the path that should he followed who unites with high Political power a clear understanding of the voice of humanity along with a sincere reverence for the divine precepts of life as found in the Gospel of Christ."

Myron Taylor, in his explanatory notes. reveals that the United States learned in January and again in March of l941 that Hitler intended to attack the Soviet Union, and that this intelligence was conveyed to the Soviet Government. Meanwhile. President Roosevelt had developed his idea of the four freedoms and in his Easter greeting to the Pontiff explained his views on these freedoms.

in reply Pope Pius expressed the hope for " a peace that will be genuine. just, honorable. and lasting; a peace that will respect individuals, families and nations and safeguard their rights to life. to a reasonable liberty, to a conscientious and fervent practice of religion, to true progress. and to an equitable participation in the riches which Providence has distributed with largess over the earth."

Following Germany's attack on Russia, it was determined. Mr. Taylor writes. "to give every practicable form of assistance—not to Communism, alien alike to sunerica's and Britain's faith and way of life, but toward preventing Nazi Germany from conquering the Russian people and thus securing the wheat and oil and other means necessary to carry on further aggression."

In his letter to Pope Pius XII explaining this decision, President Roosevelt expressed the conviction that " Russia is governed by a dictatorship as rigid in its manner of being as is the dictatorship in Germany," but that this dictatorship was " less dangerous to the safety of other nations" since it had not, like the Nazi dictatorship, resorted to " military aggression outside of its borders for the purpose of world conquest by force of arms and by force of propaganda." Mr. RooseVelt also expressed the hope that freedom of religion might oe restored to the people of Russia. " His Holiness," Mr. Taylor writes in his explanatory notes, " confirmed the view that the Holy See condemned atheistic Communism and Soviet practices regarding individual liberty, but that, as at all times, the Holy See continued to regard the Russian people with paternal affection. This view was stated in an allocution immediately thereafter and again in His Holiness' Christmas Eve broadcast the same year."

In his reply to the President's letter, Pope Pius wrote: "He (Mr. 'Taylor) has presented to Us a full exposition of those matters which

arc uppermost in the mind of Your Excellency at the present time and he has graciously informed Us of your personal feelings and of the general sentiment of your people, We, in turn, have expressed to Mr. Taylor Our point of view regarding the important matters which were dealt with in our conversations. He has assured Us that, upon his return to Washington, he will give Your Excellency an accurate report in this regard.'

Following American entry into the war. President Roosevelt communicated the determination of this country to prosecute the war to compete victory and to work for the achievement of a iust and lasting

peace. The Pontiff transmitted a memorandum to Mr. Taylor, setting forth once again the Holy Father's wishes for a peace based upon the moral order and pointing out, as Mr. Taylor writes, that " these principles would unswervingly point the direction of His own path of duty."

When American armies invaded Italy President Roosevelt assured the Pope that the neutral status of Vatican City and other papal domains should he respected and that everything as far as humanly possible should be done to spare nonmilitary areas and to protect civilian populations. The Holy Father made a number of appeals on behalf of the Eternal City and of innocent victims of war.

In one of his last communications. President Roosevelt expressed his •' deeply-felt appreciation of the frequent action which the Holy See has taken on its own initiative in its generous and merciful efforts to render assistance to the victims of racial and religious persecutions."

Following the death of President Roosevelt on April 12, 1945, the Pontiff expressed his " profound sense of grief horn of the high esteem in which We held this renowned Statesman and of the friendly relations which he fostered and maintained with Us and with the Holy See."

" Wartime Correspondence Between President Roosevelt and Pope Pius XII. (Macmillan : New York.)

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