During the last week I have seen a good deal of the Most Rev. D. Byrne, and had arranged to drive him to day, together with Monsignor Curran, to Formia, where the Irish College has acquired its new villa. Unfortunately, owing to the state of the weather, it has proved impossible to make so long an excursion.
The Archbishop has been extremely friendly, and has spoken to me with considerable frankness on a number of subjects. He informed me inter alia that Monsignor Pisani is not at all persona grata (His Grace's expression) with the Irish Episcopate, and that they considered him an inquisitive person, who even in his short stay at the time of the Catholic Emancipation Celebrations spent his time inquiring into matters which were no business of his. He also said that, although Monsignor Pisani now professes great esteem and affection for Ireland, his attitude was very different when he was in India. Dr. Byrne also said that at his audience with the Holy Father he had taken the opportunity of praising the Nuncio as being an ideal appointment, and remarked that he only hoped that the Pope would not promote Monsignor Robinson to be a Cardinal on the strength of his recommendations! He also said that he had discussed the Nuncio with His Eminence Cardinal Pacelli, and had expressed the satisfaction of the Episcopate at his presence in Ireland. I gathered from the general trend of the Archbishop's conversation, that he is anxious to guard against the possibility of Monsignor Pisani being sent to Ireland, in the event of a change, while it is quite clear that the latter would desire the appointment and is holding himself out in Rome as a friend of Ireland and an authority in Irish affairs.
His Grace also talked to me during a lunch at the Collegio S. Patrizio about the Mayo Library appointment, and said that he was afraid that the Government had met with some opposition in the matter. He went on to remark that in his opinion, the opposition was not bona fide, and that the agitation was worked up for purposes which had nothing to do with religion. On my asking him whether he thought that the position of librarian was really one of such grave moral responsibility as was represented, he said that in his opinion nobody in the County Mayo was in the least likely to be influenced by the religious convictions of the librarian. I said that I understood that the books in the Library were first selected by a Committee, and that the librarian could only distribute the literature already sanctioned; whereupon Dr. Byrne said that that was so, and that he had no sympathy with the campaign. He added that he was glad that the Fianna Fáil party had not been able to make much use of the incident, as they had put their protest on grounds of the Irish language and not of religion.
I may mention in passing that I have spoken of the Mayo librarian question with various members of the Irish clergy in Rome, and find that they either support the Government's point of view or at most say that it is a difficult question, depending upon the functions which a librarian would probably be called upon to fulfil. Fr. Nolan O.P. went so far as to say that some positions must be given to the Protestant minority, and that he could see no reason why a librarianship should not be among them. Dr. O'Gorman was one of those who said it all depended on the duties of a librarian, and remarked that logically the case could be made far more strongly for appointing no non-Catholics to be dispensary doctors. I have not discussed the question with Monsignor Curran, as I feel a certain difficulty in touching on political questions, with him unless a particularly favourable opportunity offers.