No. 73 NAI DFA Secretaries’ Files S2

Report on mission to Rome by Sean Murphy

ROME, 26 April 1923

Sean Ó Murchadha

On arriving here on Sunday evening I called immediately to see Marquis MacSwiney. He was unfortunately not at home, but I saw him at 11 o'clock on Monday morning. I explained to him the object of my mission, and the situation generally in connection with Monsignor LUZIO's visit to Ireland. He thought the best thing to do was to go at once and present my credentials to the Under Secretary of State and ask for an audience with the Secretary of State. We went together to the Vatican and he introduced me to Monsignor Pizzardo, Under Secretary of State. I gave him my credentials and explained shortly the reason of my visit. I let him see that Monsignor LUZIO was making the position very difficult for the Government. He was very gracious and said he would see the Secretary of State, and would let the Marquis know by letter the day and the hour of my audience with the Secretary of State.

About four o'clock on Monday afternoon the Marquis received a note from the Under Secretary stating that the Cardinal would be pleased to receive me at any time after 9.30 on the following morning. That evening I discussed the case with the Marquis and asked his advice as to what points should be most stressed. He considered that the best attitude to take was that the Government were afraid lest through the indiscreet actions of Monsignor LUZIO the Holy See might be placed in an awkward position. The strong points in our case according to the Marquis were the following:-

(1) That Monsignor LUZIO took as a Secretary a subject of the country to which he had been sent. This is altogether against the customs of the Vatican in such matters.

(2) The fact that the Monsignor did not get into touch with the Government until he had first seen the Irregulars. That he remained a month in the country without in any way informing the Government of his presence.

(3) The intended meeting at COUNT PLUNKETT's house.

The third point the Marquis was of opinion would carry great weight because it showed that it was the Monsignor's intention to take part in an irregular meeting.

In the course of our conversation the Marquis told me that Cardinal GASPARRI did not read English. He volunteered to translate the President's letter into Italian if the Cardinal so wished.

At 11 o'clock on Tuesday morning the Marquis and myself were received by the Secretary of State. The Marquis introduced me, and I presented the President's letter to his Eminence saying that I regretted that the object of the first mission of the Irish Free State to the Holy See was not as pleasant as the Government would wish. The Cardinal took the letter and said: 'Unfortunately I do not read English'. Whereupon the Marquis said: 'If your Eminence wishes I will translate it'. The Cardinal replied that he would be very pleased if he would. He listened very carefully while the Marquis translated and once or twice showed that he was worried and annoyed. When the Marquis had finished he said in French: 'Undoubtedly the situation is very serious.'

I said that if his Eminence wished I would give him a short resumé of the case. In this exposé the Marquis gave me extraordinary assistance, because he was able to remark to the Cardinal that most of Monsignor LUZIO's actions were against the Customs of the Holy See. We told his Eminence that Monsignor LUZIO arrived in Ireland on the 19th March, and that it was only on the 9th of April that he intimated his desire to see any member of the Government. We pointed out that he had taken CANON CONRY as his Secretary; that the Canon had given several interviews to the Press stating that the Monsignor had been sent by the Holy Father in the interests of peace. Finally when an interview with the President was asked for, it was expressly stated by the Monsignor's Secretary to be unofficial. In this interview the situation was fully and carefully explained to Monsignor LUZIO by the President. When asked for credentials the Monsignor simply said he had been sent by the Holy See, but gave no document of any kind. After the interview a campaign was carried on in the Press by the Monsignor's Secretary to the effect that if a sufficient number of public bodies expressed the desire the Monsignor would be glad to intervene. We explained to the Cardinal that this placed the Government in a very difficult position, as it was known that Monsignor LUZIO had had an interview with the President. Owing to this, and to the petition previously presented to the Vatican on behalf of the Irregulars, and the communiqué subsequently issued to the Irish Press in reference, which contained grave statements that the Holy See unfortunately omitted to contradict, the impression might easily be created that the Vatican was inclined to give undue consideration to the Irregulars' claims. This seeming benevolence on the part of the Holy See at a time when the Irregulars were definitely beaten caused the Government great anxiety. We then informed his Eminence of the proposed meeting between Monsignor LUZIO and prominent Irregulars at Count PLUNKETT's house. We pointed out how in giving up the opportunity of making important captures by occupying the house and preventing the meeting, the Government had rendered a signal service to the Holy See. The Government's action had saved the Vatican from being compromised, not only in the eyes of the Irish people, but before the world at large. The Cardinal said the question was very serious and very urgent, and that he would go immediately and see the Holy Father. He asked us to wait for him in his ante-chamber.

When we were in audience about twenty minutes the Cardinal Dean of the Sacred College was announced, and the Cardinal sent word to him to wait. He remained with us for fully half an hour longer. He then saw the Dean for a few moments. After the Dean, the Minister for Hungary was announced and he informed him that he could not see him as he had to see His Holiness at once, and asked him to come and see him the following day.

He returned to us about forty minutes later and told us with apparent satisfaction that: 'Monsignor LUZIO's ecclesiastical business had come to an end and that he would be recalled immediately by wire.' I thanked His Eminence and said that though I would not presume to ask for an audience knowing how occupied His Holiness was, nevertheless I would be very glad to kiss the Holy Father's hand. The Cardinal replied that he quite understood my desire to see the Pope, but that in order that I might see the Holy Father he would send me an invitation to the Beatification ceremony on Sunday next. We then thanked His Eminence and withdrew.

All during the audience the Cardinal was very gracious. He seemed very impressed by the action of the Government in connection with the proposed meeting at Count Plunkett's house.

After the interview, I sent you the following wire: 'Audience to-day with Secretary of State. Papal Delegate will be recalled immediately by wire. Writing'. In all this matter the Marquis MacSwiney has given me invaluable assistance, in fact but for his help, knowledge of the Vatican, and influence I could never have succeeded in getting the audience so quickly. Before and at the interview he helped me in every way. His presence was very valuable, as owing to his friendship with the Cardinal he was able to press points that I would not have been in a position to do. He advised me to say that it would be appreciated if after the departure of Monsignor LUZIO the President were to send the thanks of the Government to the Holy See, for acceding to their request in this matter.1

The Marquis has just let me know that this morning the Under-Secretary of State has informed the Agency Stefani that Monsignor LUZIO's mission has come to an end, and that the Prelate was returning to Rome. The Marquis asks that this communication be considered as STRICTLY CONFIDENTIAL.


1No. 78 below.

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