No. 591 NAI DFA 19/1B

Confidential Report from Charles Bewley to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Vatican City, 10 November 1931

I had today my audience with the Pope1 after returning from leave. As soon as I entered his study, he asked me if I had been in Ireland and if I had seen much of the Communistic propaganda at work there. I said that I had seen considerable signs of it, but that I thought the Government now had the matter under control. He questioned me about the methods employed by propagandists, and I explained the nature of the associations in Ireland with Communist aims. He then asked me whether there were many concealed arms in the country: I said that there were, and that, though some had been discovered, there were still many deposits. He then said that it was a surprise that in a country so Catholic as Ireland anti-Catholic propaganda should find willing hearers. I said that we had economic difficulties, like every other country, and that these were being exploited: I also told him that an Irish priest in Rome (Fr. Garde O.P.) had informed me that even in Killarney the Little Sisters of the Poor had been told by people from whom they asked for subscriptions that the Church had too much wealth already, and that such answers must be the result of definite propaganda. His Holiness said that the method of the Communists was to attempt to identify the Church with Capitalism, and that He himself received the Bezbosnik (the organ of the Godless) and saw such attacks.

I then gave Him a short description of the measures introduced by the Government in the Constitution Amendment Act, mentioning in particular the special tribunals, and stating that I knew from my own experience as a lawyer how the jury system had been broken down by the assassination of jurymen and witnesses and that it had become necessary to suspend the so-called constitutional guarantees. He agreed warmly, and said that if real liberty was to exist licence to commit crime or disseminate corrupt doctrines must be suppressed. He observed that in Austria recently there had been an opportunity for the good elements in the State to unite against socialism, but that it had been let slip. I said that it had been a disaster that Schober had been unwilling to join in an anti-marxist front.

I then said that the effect of the Bishops' Pastoral, taken in conjunction with the Government's measures, had been excellent, because there was still a tradition in Ireland of opposition to the Government in being, which had come down from the period of British Government. His Holiness said that this tradition was almost bound to exist where a people was under foreign rule, that at the time of his birth parts of Northern Italy were still under Austrian rule, and that the tradition of opposition to the Government had persisted even to very recent times. He quoted as an example of this the proverb in dialect: 'Roba di comun, roba di nessun'.

He added that probably part of the object of the agitation was to prevent the Eucharistic Congress. I mentioned the rumour of a prophecy by Teresa Neumann of Konnersreuth that it would not be held, and its denial, and said that a certain section were unwilling that it should be held in Ireland unless a republic had been first set up. He said that over a year ago he had received letters of protest to that effect, mostly anonymous.

He also asked me how things looked at present: I said that I thought the conspiracy had really been suppressed, but that there was still the possibility of trouble so long as the arms remained in the country. I added that the Government was quite determined to go through with their programme, even if it were necessary to execute offenders against the law, though it was hoped that this eventuality would not occur. His Holiness said with emphasis that the Government was right, and that everything must give way to the safety of the State.

The Pope struck me as being very well informed about affairs in Ireland. I endeavoured, without giving too alarming a picture of affairs, to urge the necessity of any such measures as had been taken, and to prepare him for the possibility of more severe action becoming inevitable, while expressing the hope that it might be avoided.

[signed] C. Bewley

1 Pope Pius XI.

Purchase Volumes Online

Purchase Volumes Online



The Royal Irish Academy's Documents on Irish Foreign Policy series has published an eBook of confidential correspondence on the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

Free Download

International Counterparts

The international network of Editors of Diplomatic Documents was founded in 1988. Delegations from different parts of the world met for the first time in London in 1989.
Read more ....

Website design and developed by FUSIO