No. 556 NAI DFA 19/1B

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

Vatican City, 22 June 1931

I have carefully considered what you say in your minute of May 12 (E.A. 231/5/1931)1 on the Nuncio and the question of a possible successor in the future.

I am satisfied that the Vatican is convinced that at present at any rate the Nuncio in Ireland should be himself Irish. From the moment of Mons. Robinson's appointment the late Secretary of State2 frequently repeated that Providence had sent him for this position, and especially laid emphasis on the fact that he was Irish. The Pope also has during audiences commented on the fact. I have attempted, so far as possible, to emphasize Monsignor Robinson's understanding of both the political question of Ireland and the Irish character as no non-Irishman could do; and the various Irish bishops who have visited Rome in the last year have expressed their great pleasure at having an Irish Nuncio.

I do not therefore think that, if a vacancy were to occur in the near future, there would be much danger of an Italian appointment. As I think I mentioned before, I have little doubt that Mons. Pisani is hoping for the post; but he is not looked upon as a person capable of filling a position of great delicacy on account of his comparative failure on a mission to India, and would not be appointed in the face of the certain opposition of the Bishops. I shall, however, continue to expatiate on Mons. Robinson's qualities and more especially those which result from his Irish nationality.

Of the Irish clergy resident in Rome, the only one who could possibly be considered as eligible for the Nunciature would be Dr. O'Gorman. As a member of the Supreme Sacred Congregation of the Holy Office, he is in touch with a number of Cardinals, including Cardinal Pacelli, and also with Monsignori Pizzardo and Ottaviani. His chief friend in the College of Cardinals was Cardinal Perosi who died last year: he is on very friendly terms with Cardinal Rossi, but the latter is a saintly and retiring Discalced Carmelite who would not be likely to use his influence even on behalf of his friends.

I have the impression that Dr. O'Gorman contemplated the possibility of being appointed as Nuncio when Mons. Robinson was appointed; in a conversation I would be prepared to give my grounds for such belief. I am satisfied that he would be delighted at the appointment. I do not know how far the authorities in the Vatican may have had their attention directed to him as a possible candidate but think it quite possible that in a quiet way the possibility of appointing him has been brought to their notice. He stands well with them, and has the distinction of an ex-General of his order.

It is right to add that he is strongly - perhaps too strongly - anti-Fascist. Whether this could affect his appointment in any way, and if so whether favourably or unfavourably, would depend on the circumstances of the particular time.

I do not know of any other Irish priest in Rome who would be even remotely possible, but mention a few of the more prominent.

Fr. Magennis O.C. is General of the Carmelites of the Antica Osservanza. He is a Belfastman with many of the ways of thinking and speech of that city. He has never been able to come to the Legation, though invited on several occasions. He would be in many ways unsuitable.

Fr. Louis Nolan O.P. is a cultured and charming personality, of some distinction. He is a member of the Sacred Congregation of Religious and also of a special commission for the approval of new institutions, revision of statutes etc. I do not think, however, that he is of the standing of a possible Nuncio: moreover his health is poor, necessitating frequent withdrawals to a nursing home.

Fr. Garde O.P. is also a man of ability: he is companion of Père Gillet, the General of the Dominicans, for the English language, and a consultor of the Sacred Congregation of Rites. He is however young and not at all of sufficient standing.

The Rector of San Clemente, Fr. Rowan O.P., impresses me as being a man who may in the future be suitable for a diplomatic post in Ireland, though he has not yet reached that stage. He was for many years at Fribourg and is a good linguist; he has a considerable amount of savoir- faire, makes a good impression and is, I think, ambitious. In the future he might be a person to be considered.

I need not write in this connection of the Rector of the Irish College. I should however like to have the opportunity of mentioning again that his conduct is quite irreproachable. I spent a day last week taking him and the Vice-Rector to the new Villa at Formia: I think that the attention was much appreciated.

As I stated before, Dr. O'Gorman is the only one of the Irish clergy in Rome whom it would be at all possible to contemplate as Nuncio. I imagine that his appointment would be quite possible, especially if it was known that the Government would approve of it. I think he is on good terms with the Irish Bishops, and that they would not be averse to him especially if the alternative was an Italian; but this is a matter which will possibly be better known to the Department than to me.

It occurs to me that, if for any reason, Dr. O'Gorman were not appointed on the departure of Mons. Robinson, there might be a possibility of the appointment of an Irishman not resident either in Rome or in Ireland. Two names occur to me at the moment, although of course I do not know in the least whether the Holy See would be likely to transfer them. The first is Mons. Wilson, of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost, born at Cobh in 1884, Vicar Apostolic of Bergamoyo in East Africa, and titular Archbishop of Acmonia since 1924. The other is Mons. Leen, of the same Congregation, born at Abbeyfeale in 1895, and Bishop of Port Louis, Mauritius, since 1926.

Of course it is probable that there are other Irishmen in different parts of the world who might be equally eligible: I mention the two in question merely because I happen to have met them here.

[signed] Charles Bewley

1 See No. 550.

2 Cardinal Pietro Gasparri.

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