Religion: The Vatican & Japan

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Japan's plan to establish diplomatic relations with the Vatican drew a second and sharper protest from the U.S. State Department to the Holy See last week. Similar representations have been made independently by Great Britain. Both powers urged that the Vatican's assent to such an Embassy at this time might be construed as an acceptance of Japan's recent actions.

Japan has never been represented at the Vatican. But its recent conquests have swelled the number of Catholics in its territory from a few hundred thousand to some 20,000,000 (largest group: the 13,000,000 Catholics of the Philippines), give Japan a good surface reason to ask for an exchange of envoys. And the Vatican, which has long had an Apostolic Delegate in Japan, will have a hard time finding a good excuse for declining.

American Catholics seemingly back up the State Department stand. Monsignor Michael J. Ready, general secretary of the National Catholic Welfare Conference, the ringing voice of the U.S. hierarchy, declared last week that "the liberty and institutions" of the U.S. are today threatened by the same "rampant totalitarian military forces which harass the Church and all that the Church has built." This description obviously applied to Japan. Significantly, Monsignor Ready made his remarks at a service attended by the Apostolic Delegate to the U.S., Archbishop Amleto Giovanni Cicoganani, who will undoubtedly pass them on to the Vatican as a good indication of how American Catholicism feels.

Since the return of Myron C. Taylor, President Roosevelt's personal envoy to the Pope, the U.S. has been informally represented at the Vatican by his assistant, Career Diplomat Harold H. Tittmann Jr. After Italy entered the war, Tittmann had to move to an apartment in Vatican City, to keep from being interned.