No. 63 NAI DFA Secretary's Files P104A

Letter from Thomas J. Kiernan to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)
(Confidential) (M.P. 7 & F 2/2/45)

Holy See, 31 December 1945

My audience with the Holy Father was fixed for Saturday, December 29th, at 10.15 a.m.

Your telegram 921 handed in at 1.35 p.m. on that date was not received until Sunday morning.

Looking at the audience list when I reached the Holy Father's ante-room, I saw that from 9.15 to 10.15 He was seeing Monsignor Montini.

Monsignor Montini came out of the Holy Father's study at 10.20.

The Holy Father, after the customary greetings, entered at once into an explanation regarding the omission of Ireland from the list of Cardinals appointed. He said that He wanted to take this opportunity of explaining the matter. He said that He had desired to appoint an Irish Cardinal. Ireland is a foremost Catholic country. There are not only the millions of Catholics, and fervent Catholics, in Ireland but that He knows the influence of Ireland in building the Faith in other countries. There are the very many millions abroad who owe their Faith to Irish teaching. 'But I have been told that the Irish people want the Archbishop of Armagh'.2 He said this sentence twice, and then went on: 'I was prepared to appoint the Archbishop of Dublin3 but was advised that this would not be proper since the Irish people wanted the Archbishop of Armagh. It is the prime, the first see. What could I do?'

He was very tired, at that early hour, very serious and seemed depressed and worried in giving the explanation. 'It is clear to you? Have I made myself clear?'

I said yes but that I did not understand the meaning of being advised ...

He said: 'I was advised from many quarters, and as the reports have not been received regarding the filling of the Archbishopric of Armagh, I could do nothing. I was helpless'.

'The reports?' I asked.

'There are certain necessary and customary reports', He explained. 'And whose fault was it?' I asked. 'It is nobody's fault ... Is your Government "scontento"?'. I said that not only that but that every Irish Catholic would take it to heart. The feeling in Ireland for the Holy See is so personal and sincere that the omission is a very deep disappointment not only to the Government but to every Irish Catholic. I began to talk of the Irish Catholics in the USA and elsewhere and He interrupted me. 'I know. I know all'.

He said that the new Archbishop of Armagh will be a Cardinal-to-be but that He cannot of course become a Cardinal until the next following Consistory; and now that the Sacred College is full no one knows, only Divine Providence, when that may be.

'We do not want the Cardinals to die' - it was the only time when He smiled.

'I have done my best. You have read my speech. You will have seen that there are few new Italian Cardinals. It is a universal list ...'

'Except for Ireland, Holy Father'. He assented, sadly.

Before ending this part of the report, I should add that He twice used the word 'proper'. He was advised that 'it would not be proper' for Him to appoint the Archbishop of Dublin.

He made no reference, of course, to the Archbishop of Dublin personally. His sole base-line of explanation was that the Irish people wanted Armagh to be continued as the Cardinal's see and as Armagh was out of the picture, He was rendered helpless.

The explanation of the Italian word 'scontento' is that at a slightly earlier part of the audience, the Holy Father asking if He had made himself clear, I summarised in Italian what He had said and He continued for a while speaking in Italian. Otherwise, the conversation was in English.

Then, as there seemed nothing more to be said, and He was silent, I raised the question of the Nuncio Apostolic.4

At first He said: 'Is he not in good health?' And then went on to say that it is clear that the College of Cardinals is filled, 38 existing Cardinals and 32 new Cardinals: as if He were answering an unspoken question as to why Monsignor Robinson was not made a Cardinal; and then: 'But he is a good Nuncio; You have a good Nuncio'. I said that in a delicate position the Nuncio had been in every way a great success as only an Irish prelate as Nuncio could be.

The audience, timed for 15 minutes in accordance with the usual practice, lasted a little under half an hour.

The Holy Father stated that His explanation was confidential.

1 See above No. 62.

2 Cardinal Joseph MacRory (1861-1945), Archbishop of Armagh (1928-45) died on 13 October 1945. This is a reference to the office rather than any specific holder of that office.

3 Rev. Dr. John Charles McQuaid.

4 Dr. Paschal Robinson.

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