No. 532 NAI DFA 19/1B

Confidential Report from Charles Bewley to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)1

Vatican City, 13 March 1931

On Thursday March 12, I was invited to a memorial Mass in the Irish College for Monsignor Hagan the late Rector. Unlike last year, when there was a good deal of confusion, special seats had been prepared for myself and Monsignor Ciriaci, the Nuncio in Prague, who happens to be in Rome and was formerly intimate with the authorities of the Irish College, having lectured to the students and also having well known the late Rector. After the Mass, at which nearly all the Irish clergy in Rome attended, the Rector invited Monsignor Ciriaci and myself to refreshments, while he breakfasted. Monsignor Ciriaci remarked that he had heard that conditions in the Irish Free State were very favourable at present, and asked if that were true. The Rector said that it was so, and that it was owing to the direct interposition of Providence that we had a Free State and were not involved in the present situation in England. The Nuncio asked about Northern Ireland, and I informed him that unemployment was much more serious there than in the Free State: Monsignor Curran expressed his entire agreement with what I said, and spoke in praise of the general conditions. The only reference which he permitted himself of a political nature was a remark to the effect that the Irish College represented the whole of Ireland, whereas I only represented the Free State. This was however more or less in the nature of a jest; and generally speaking I think I am justified in saying that his attitude was unexceptionable.

The Vice-Rector, Dr. Kyne, is very young, having been a student in the College a very few years ago, and rather shy; I have never had the opportunity of talking to him alone, and know nothing of his opinions on politics (if any) but he has twice been at dinner in the Legation, and is entirely correct in his attitude.

I may add that I notice a considerable change in the behaviour of the students since last year. They were inclined, so far as I was concerned, and, I gather, also towards others, to take up a somewhat hostile attitude, and were frankly rather impertinent, in their demeanour. At the present time, both student-priests and students are very polite; they met me at the door and showed me to my place, instead of leaving me to fend for myself as was done last year. I think that the present Rector is, so far as I can judge, genuinely doing what he can to alter the traditions established by his predecessor, and to bring the College more in touch with the general life of Rome.

In the course of conversation Monsignor Ciriaci referred to the difficult position which the Rector had had to occupy when he was Vice-Rector, and Monsignor Curran assented. The Minister may remember that, when the question of Monsignor Curran's appointment as Rector arose, I informed him that Cardinal Pacelli had told me that he would arrange (presumably through Cardinal Bisleti, the Prefect of the Sacred Congregation of Seminaries and Universities, who actually sanctioned the appointment) that an undertaking should be given as to future conduct by the Rector. I think it would be reasonable to assume that Monsignor Curran's defence was that he had in the past been powerless in the matter, and that he did not approve of Monsignor Hagan's procedure. At any rate, that is the version of the facts accepted in Vatican circles so far as I have been able to ascertain from the Irish clergy; and Monsignor Ciriaci's remark seems to confirm it.

I may mention in conclusion that I have been invited to the Irish College on Sunday next to meet Monsignor Ciriaci again and also on St. Patrick's Day, while the Rector and Vice-Rector are to come to the Legation on Monday March 16.

[signed] C. Bewley

1 Initialled: 'PMcG 18/3/31'.

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