No. 37 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P104A

Aide-mémoire by Joseph P. Walshe on the appointment of a Papal Nuncio to Dublin

Dublin, 21 November 1945

The Irish Government have a profound understanding for the difficulties of the Holy See in the present crisis which so gravely affects the interest of the Church, and indeed, of Christian civilisation, on the whole Continent of Europe. They sympathise deeply with the Holy Father, and they pray God to grant Him the power to overcome all His difficulties.

The Irish Government appreciate Monsignore Montini's warning against raising national issues in relation to the appointment of a successor to Archbishop Robinson,1 and they have no intention of discussing the matter on the plane of national pride or amour propre. They wish, however, to make the situation, as they see it, absolutely clear before His Holiness makes the appointment.

Archbishop Robinson is not an Irish national. He is, and always has been regarded by us as, a most distinguished American ecclesiastic of Irish origin. His selection for the post of Dublin was attributed to his special knowledge of American ecclesiastical affairs which was deemed a useful and appropriate background for his work in Ireland. Ireland, owing to the expansion of her people, especially in the English-speaking countries, and to her ever-growing missionary effort amongst pagans, has a particularly important place in the Catholic world. The character of the appointment to the Dublin Nunciature has, therefore, a certain world-wide importance. It is a subject for comment in the English language Press everywhere, and conclusions will be drawn from it, rightly or wrongly, and implications will be seen in it concerning the general policy of the Holy See in the new era. Comment in this regard is likely to be most open in Washington and London. If an Italian Prelate were appointed, it would be clearly taken as an indication that there was no change in policy. Indeed, at a time when it is so important to stress the non-national and the universal character of the Church, it would appear to the Irish Government that the appointment of another non-Italian national in Dublin could do nothing but good towards promoting the interests of the Church in the English language countries especially, and it is important to remember that none of them has yet established diplomatic relations with the Holy See.

The members of the Irish Government are all, as Monsignore Montini is aware, Catholics. All of them have close relations in the priesthood and in religious orders in different parts of the world, and they believe that they have a sufficient knowledge of and sympathy with the wider interests of the Church to take an unbiased view. They, therefore, venture to suggest, with all humility, that the appointment of an Italian Nuncio to Dublin would not be favourable to Catholic interests, whether in the Church in Ireland or, in present circum-stances, in the Church in the world generally. They feel they would be wanting in frankness to pretend that the Continental ecclesiastical mind is capable of adapting itself to the particular evolution which has taken place in Church forms and practices in such countries as Ireland, the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Australia. Indeed, they are not convinced that a traditional diplomatic training is one of the necessary qualifications for a representative of the Holy See in these countries. It would, therefore, in their view, amount almost to a disaster if the Holy See hesitated about the selection of holy and learned Prelates of another national origin as its representatives simply because they have not had the opportunity of the special diplomatic training which has been the privilege of the very distinguished Italian representatives of the Holy See.

The Irish Government request His Excellency the Substitute Secretary of State2 to convey their representations to His Holiness the Pope.

1 Dr. Paschal Robinson (1870-1948), Apostolic Nuncio to Ireland (1929-48).

2 Giovanni Montini.

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