No. 558 NAI DFA 19/1B

Letter from Joseph P. Walshe to Charles Bewley (Vatican City)
(19/1) (Copy)

Dublin, 23 July 1931

Your reports received1 since my last general despatch.2 The Minister has read these reports with great interest. They contain a great deal of very valuable information and will be printed for future reference.

2. The situation in relation to the precedence given to the British Chargé d'Affaires is somewhat disquieting. It would be a great pity if the Irish Minister were to be cut off from intercourse with institutions in which there is likely to be a great deal of sympathy for this country. The tendency amongst a good many English Catholic Clergy is to be anti-Irish and it would be an excellent subsidiary result of Irish representation in Rome if the influence of the English and the Beda College were used against that tendency. No doubt precedence is a question of primary importance, but the Minister would like to be quite certain that there was a definite intention to depreciate your position before considering a remedy for the situation. He is opposed to cutting off all communication with these two very important institutions which may easily be of service to the State or the Church here. Indeed he would prefer you to look for reasons which would excuse the action of the Rectors than to take umbrage. The Minister has an uneasy feeling that action of the kind you contemplate might be a first step backwards towards the old isolation which your excellent work has done so much to break down.

3. The Nuncio seems to have definitely won the good will of the Hierarchy. Many individual Bishops still find a grievance in what they regard as the certainty of Monsignor Robinson's successor being an Italian. Your report of June 22nd3 gives some ground for hoping that it will be possible to get an Irish successor. Dr. O'Gorman is regarded with favour by all the Bishops and his appointment would no doubt be welcomed by them as well as by the Government. It is a great pity that no move has yet been made by the Vatican to make him a Bishop. We are singularly badly treated by the Vatican in that respect.

4. Of the candidates for the post of Papal legate Cardinal Ceretti would be favourite. Apart from the reasons you gave in your report of 15th June he is known to have spoken very well of Ireland's place in the world after his Australian visit. Indeed he is said to have been the first person in recent years to have warned the Holy See that more attention should be paid to Ireland owing to her important position in the English speaking Catholic world. You are therefore instructed to use any opportunity that presents itself to encourage the Holy See to select Cardinal Ceretti.

5. The absence of Irish representation at the 40th Anniversary of the Encyclical Rerum Novarum was an example of the deplorable attitude adopted by the Irish Hierarchy towards the Catholic world outside the limits of this island. You will recall the Joan of Arc and other celebrations during these last few years at which the absence of Irish representation was made more remarkable by the strong English delegation present. The Irish Bishops do not yet appear to have developed that corporate national conscience of which Cardinal Bourne is such an advocate in Great Britain. Our Catholic prestige abroad is consequently very limited and the English Catholics are taking the credit of the work done by Irish Catholics all over the world. The Minister intends to take an early opportunity of speaking to some of the Bishops on this matter.

The elevation of Dr. Byrne to the College of Cardinals in connection with the Eucharistic Congress would be highly gratifying and would do a great deal to make up for the past indifference of the Holy See to Irish interests. The strongest arguments you could advance in favour of the step would be (1) that it would be regarded with profound gratitude by the Catholics in all the English speaking countries of the world as a reward for Ireland's contribution to Catholicism through her children everywhere and (2) that it would greatly enhance our prestige as a Catholic State as well as confirm the Catholic character of the State. The Holy See through your good offices is probably now fully alive to the fact that Ireland is the most Catholic State in the world without exception. In this connection a rumour has come here that the Nuncio may be created a Cardinal at the time of the Congress. If there is any foundation for that rumour your position will be somewhat difficult. Monsignor Robinson is bound to become a Cardinal some day. If he is elevated at the time of the Eucharistic Congress, according to precedent he should go back to Rome and his withdrawal at such an early stage of his work would be disastrous. Moreover the elevation of Monsignor Robinson would have none of the good results which would follow that of Dr. Byrne. A Cardinal in Dublin would give a new and lasting impetus to Irish Catholicism. The creation of Monsignor Robinson could hardly be expected to have that result. If however there is no possible chance of securing the elevation of Dr. Byrne the next best thing would be that of Monsignor Robinson with his continuance as Nuncio here.

6. We are trying to secure further information about the appointment of German Bishops in predominantly Irish dioceses in the U.S.A. The Minister is in full agreement with the prudent line you have adopted. Nevertheless there is no doubt about the bitterness provoked and action of some kind will have to be taken at a later stage.

7. Your reports on the Azione Catholica have been most useful.4 The home press and most of the foreign newspapers have been very misleading. It is to be hoped that the ill timed Irish resolutions will not be a factor in making the inevitable ultimate settlement more difficult. The principles involved are of the highest interest for us and we shall be very glad to receive the fullest information at all times on any Papal statement involving the relations between the State and the citizen.

8. The Minister regrets that it is impossible to comply with your request concerning the September pilgrimage. You will have to make your holidays suit the requirements of your post. It should be possible to arrange your annual holiday of forty two working days so as to allow you to be in Rome for the pilgrimage. The Minister would be severely criticised if he allowed any departure from that principle, especially at a time when the public are criticising the salaries, work and holidays of the Service.

9. I shall be very glad if you will come to the Department immediately you arrive in Dublin.

[stamped] (Signed) J.P. Walshe

1 See No. 552 and No. 556.

2 See No. 550.

3 See No. 556.

4 Not printed.

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