The Times - Tuesday, February 12, 1929


(from our own correspondent)

ROME, Feb. 11, The Roman question has now passed into history. At midday to-day Cardinal Gasparri and Signor Mussolini signed, in the Palace of the Lateran, a political treaty which solves and eliminates the 'Roman Question,' a Concordat intended to regulate the conditions of religion and of the Church in Italy, and a Convention which systematizes definitely the financial relations between the Holy See and Italy as arising out of the events of 1870.

Thus it will be seen from the foregoing words of the official communique that there are three instruments instead of (one?) as had been generally expected.

As had been foreseen, the actual ....[very private meeting? negotiations? (portion of printed page missing) ] .... before 11 o'clock Mgr. Pizzardo the assistant Secretary of State, and Professor? Pacelli, legal advisor to the Vatican, drove up in a motor-car and were quickly followed by Cardinal Gasparri, the Secretary of State, and Mgr. Borgongini Duca, Secretary of the Congregation of Extraordinary Ecclesiastical Affairs. When the Vatican representatives arrived the rain was falling fast, and comparatively few people had lined the sides of the huge Piazza Laterana. Little by little fresh sightseers, of whom many were theological students, straggled on to the scene, but the crowd was, in the circumstances, surprisingly small, and cannot have numbered 3000 persons at an outside estimate. The heads of the Diplomatic Corps were, so far as one could see, absent, with the exception of the Swiss Minister to the Quirinal, who took his chance with the ordinary public.

At 25 minutes before noon, Signor Mussolini drove up in company with Signor Giunta, the Under-Secretary in his Department, and a few minutes later Signor Grandi, the Under-Secretary for Foreign Affairs, arrived with Signor Rocco, the Minister of Justice. On entering the Palace, Signor Mussolini was greeted by the custodian of the Lateran Museum, who showed the Duce and his colleagues around the missionary section of it. Signor Mussolini then went upstairs, where he was formally greeted by Cardinal Gasparri in the Hall of Constantine.


Acting as host, the Papal Secretary of State then conducted the Italian Prime Minister into the famous Council Hall, which has been the scene of so many historical events in ages past. The Hall, which in its present form, is only about one-fifth of its original size, is still over 50ft. high by 115ft. in length and 45ft. in width. It was in the original hall that the Emperor Charlemagne was the guest of Pope Leo III., and, after a reconstruction of the Palace, that the Concordat of Worms was ratified in 1123 by Pope Calixtus II.

On the present occasion, a large table from the Philippine Islands has been placed at one end of the hall immediately under a bust of the present Pope, and round the table were arranged eight beautiful chairs, which like the table itself, were gifts to the Papacy from Catholic missions in the Far East.1 At the far end of the hall, facing the table, was a bust of Pope Sixtus V., who carried out the rebuilding of the Palace after its almost total destruction by fire.

When the moment for the exchange of credentials and the signature of the instruments arrived, Cardinal Gasparri and the Vatican representatives were ranged on the right, and Signor Mussolini and his colleagues on the left. Cardinal Gasparri and Signor Mussolini alone signed the documents, although all the witnesses of the ceremony subsequently signed a special illuminated page in the visitors' book which had been prepared for the occasion and bore the words Justitia and Pax.

The Pope had blessed and sent a golden pen for the ceremony, and this pen was afterwards presented to Signor Mussolini by Cardinal Gasparri. After the signatures had been affixed, Cardinal Gasparri and Signor Mussolini exchanged a few brief congratulations, but there was nothing in the nature of any formal speeches and this absence of strict ceremony was reflected also in the dress of those present. Cardinal Gasparri was wearing his black undress cassock piped with scarlet, and his cardinal's cape, while Signor Mussolini wore a morning coat. The entire ceremony lasted about 25 minutes. That it took so long was due to the fact that the three instruments were in duplicate and that both signatories signed each page in the margin.

The first to drive away were Cardinal Gasparri and Mgr. Borgongini Duca, who were greeted with warm cheers that were renewed with even greater enthusiasm when the Duce and Signor Rocco followed a moment or two later. A hearty cheer was also given to Professor Pizzardo when he responded to the crowd by giving them the Fascist salute. The spontaneous exchange of courtesies was, in fact, one of the most striking episodes of the occasion.

When the noon gun and the ringing of church bells had proclaimed the arrival of the official moment of signature, the theological students in the Piazza intoned a Te Deum. The Fascists, after joining in the singing, uttered loud shouts of "Evviva il Papa, Eja, eja alala," and the students, not to be outdone, responded by giving them the Roman salute and by raising cheers for the Duce.

As soon as the ceremony had come to an end the brief communique was issued announcing that the settlement was now an accomplished fact. The communique ended with the words:-

In conformity with the custom of the Holy See not to publish international conventions until they have been presented for discussion by the legislative assemblies the text of the aforesaid conventions will not be made public, but tomorrow a full and detailed resume of them will be given.

[IMAGE: THE CITY OF THE VATICAN - Supposed Boundary of the Papal State]


It seems therefore, that the full official text of the three instruments signed to-day will not be made known until after the election of the new Parliament, which meets for the first time on April 20. Meanwhile, the ban has now been lifted from the Italian Press, and it is possible to obtain some more reasoned accounts of how this historic event is viewed by public opinion and of the steps which have led up to it. The most interesting article is that written by the editor of the Osservatore Romano.

After tracing the origin of the Roman Question, and giving and account of the different previous attempts to reach a settlement, the writer comes down to the beginning of the final negotiations. The first move was made two years ago by Signor Mussolini, who caused his Holiness to be informed that he was anxious to settle the Roman Question. The Pope, after sounding all the Cardinals, individually, answered by authorising private and confidential conversations. From the outset, it is insisted, the Holy Father laid down the condition that any settlement of the Roman Question must be accompanied by a Concordat. This condition was cordially accepted. The final agreements were on the following main points:-

First, the Italian State signs a Treaty abolishing the Law of Guarantees of 1871, and renouncing to the Pope the principle and exercise of effective and full power of sovereign jurisdiction over a determined territory to be known as the Vatican City.

Second, the Italian State pays a sum of money in compensation for the loss of the Pontifical States and other ecclesiastical properties.

Third, the Italian Government stipulates a Concordat. The Holy See declares the Roman Question to be definitely settled, and recognizes in its actual formation and constitution the Kingdom of Italy.

The article then goes on to give an account of the Vatican City which is interesting by reason of the pains at which the writer is (goes?) to minimize the importance of territorial extension. He affects to regard as of trifling importance the acquisition of the Villa Pamphilj Doria, the Pineta Sacchetti, the slopes of Monte Mario, a corridor to the sea, a piazza here, and a villa there.

Such extensions, the writer admits, might make the sovereignty of the Pope more evident, but they would not materially contribute to his security. He insi[s]ts that as it is the Holy Father has obtained enough to satisfy his liberty and independence as head of the Universal Church, and enough to be recognized as a real and visible sovereign. Thus, in effect, the writer claims that the absence of territorial extension is amply compensated for by the moral and juridical force of the recognition by the Italian Government of the sovereign rights of the Pontiff.

In the small Vatican State now to be created, the civil sovereignty of the Pope becomes one with his religious sovereignty. Thus it would be impossible to violate the Papal territory without also violating the Pope's religious sovereignty, and such a violation, the writer argues, would be a sacrilegious challenge to the public opinion of the whole world. With regard to financial arrangements, the article declares that the sum of money to be paid was calculated on the basis of the annual sums which would have been payable under the Law of Guarantees of 1871. The Holy Father, however, with paternal feelings that were duly appreciated on the other side, reduced the sum to what was absolutely indispensable. Finally, the writer speaks of the Concordat in enthusiastic terms as being "the Golden Seal of this solemn event." He declares that in the Concordat are to be found the seeds of the most noble and vital development of the juridical guarantees accorded to the Papacy, and that the rights won thereby for the spiritual interests of the Roman people constitute an immense spiritual fortress round the Vatican City. He looks forward to a revival of faith and indicates that the advantages won by the Vatican with regard to religious properties, family life, education, morals, and the spiritual life of the nation will bring the present and future generations back into closer contact with God.

[IMAGE: THE CARDINAL SIGNS-Cardinal Gasparri affixing his signature to one of the documents, of which there were three. He used a gold pen that had been blessed by the Pope, and afterwards presented it to Signor Mussolini.]


The lay press celebrates the events as the end of wasteful conflicts between Church and State, and as a personal triumph for Signor Mussolini.

The Corriere d'Italia, which regards today's agreement as the confirmation of its own mission, gives almost all the praise to Signor Mussolini, who, from the beginning, showed clear evidence of his enmity to Freemasonry and Liberalism, and of his determination to bring back Religion to its due place. In his work for religious reforms, the Duce had with him, said the writer, the organized forces of the youth of Italy, and of those Catholics of faith and comprehension. The Holy See obtains "a spiritual victory unprecedented in moral history." Not seeking any more territory and material sovereignty than are sufficient even in appearance to give it absolute independence, the Holy See looks rather to "a complete scheme of spiritual and moral transformation of the laws and life of the Italian State."

Senator Corradini, who contributes a special article in the Giornale d'Italia, recalls the inner conflict in every Italian's heart between feelings of loyalty to his Church and of devotion to his country. To-day this has been succeeded, not by a mere union, but by a "living unity."

The Senator regards the reconciliation as a typical act of the new regime; starting with national unity, Fascism has succeeded in establishing a profound unity in the individual conscience. This fusion will be a new fount of discipline, of moral rectitude of the dedication of the individual to the nation and to the State. The former antithesis between Church and State was, according to another writer, a source of manifold dangers to the Italian nation. The existence of anti-Catholic and Masonic elements threatened to corrupt the race, and Italy was in a position of inferiority with regard to other nations, as she had no direct representation at the Vatican. Further, these elements lessened the efficacy of Rome's mission in the world. To-day's agreement is an unequivocal statement of the fact that Rome, one and distinct, is the capital of Fascism and the city of the Papacy.

As regards the effects, present and future, of the present reconciliation on the policy of Fascism and of the Holy See, the writers, for the most part, confine themselves to generalities. The Lavoro, however, affirms that the agreement will not give an international character to Fascism or a national imprint to the actions of the Holy See. At the same time, the Church will have no reason for maintaining towards Fascist Italy the attitude of intransigence and hostility which it felt for the old Liberal and Masonic regimes. The only cure for he world's ills, it says, lies in a return to the immutable truths which have their starting point in the Catholic Rome of Signor Mussolini. Thus, to-day's ceremony is not a mere diplomatic agreement, but the beginning of a new period in the history of Fascist Italy.


Addressing preachers for Lent this morning, the Pope said that while he was speaking to them Cardinal Gasparri was actually signing the treaty with the Italian Government. The Holy Father said that he did not intend to give his public benediction on the morrow, as some seemed to believe, but that he meant to wait until the instruments had been ratified. In reply to any criticisms that might be made, the Pope declared that he had studied the question for 30 months, aided only by the prayers of the faithful.

Answering those who doubted the sufficiency of the guarantees given, the Pope explained that there was no need to ask for guarantees from foreign Governments. "The guarantees," said his Holiness "are only to be found in the conscience and the sense of justice of the Italian people." How could they count on guarantees when even before 1870 the Temporal Power had only existed on geographical maps? And in any case, what had the Powers done then? It was true that perhaps there was nothing they could have done. As regards the future, it lay, said the Holy Father, in the hands of God. During the negotiations just passed, the Pope explained, he had only asked for his Italian flock "the minimum necessary for visible temporal power." By so doing, he wished to demonstrate the fact that he had no territorial ambitions.

The Pope concluded by saying that his reply to those who objected that the Papal territory was too small was, "It is the largest in the world," for in it were included libraries, museums, historic apartments, and immense treasures of art and science.


ROME, Feb. 11, -An official communique has been issued summarizing the Treaty, Concordat, and Financial Convention signed to-day by representatives of Italy and the Holy See. The communique is as follows:-

"The political treaty between the Holy See and Italy is composed of a Preamble and 27 Articles. After stating that the two High Contracting Parties recognise the advisability of eliminating every reason for enmity between them the Preamble begins by re-affirming the principle contained in the first article of the constitution of the Kingdom of Italy by which the Holy Catholic Apostolic and Roman Religion is the only State Religion in Italy.

The text of the Treaty proceeds to recognize the full property, exclusive dominion, and sovereign jurisdiction of the Holy See over the Vatican as at present constituted. For this purpose, "the City of the Vatican" is created. In this territory no interference by the Italian Government will be possible, and there will be no authority other than that of the Holy See. The Piazza San Pietro, although forming part of the Vatican territory, will continue normally to be open to the public and subject to the police powers of the Italian authorities.

The boundaries of the Vatican City are indicated in the map annexed to the Treaty.

A special clause specifies all the public services with which the Vatican City will be endowed by the Italian Government, including the railway station, and direct connection with other States by telegraphic, wireless, broadcasting, and postal services.

An agreement will be made subsequently providing for the circulation on Italian territory of vehicles and aircraft belonging to the Vatican City.

Another clause specifies as persons subject to the sovereignty of the Holy See those having a permanent residence in the Vatican City. The Treaty lays down the immunities which will be enjoyed even by those who do not reside in the Vatican City-namely, by dignitaries of the Church, persons belonging to the Papal Court, and Vatican officials declared to be indispensable by the Holy See. The territorial immunities are also provided for the Patriarchal Basilicas and certain edifices situated outside the Vatican City in which the Holy See is housing, or will house its offices or services necessary for its administration.

Italy recognizes the right of the Holy See to send its own diplomatists to foreign countries and receive foreign diplomatists according to the general rules of international law. The two High Contracting Parties bind themselves to establish normal diplomatic relations by accrediting an Italian Ambassador to the Holy See and an Apostolic Nuncio to Italy who will be the Dean of the Diplomatic Corps according to the customary procedure as recognised by the Congress of Vienna in 1815. It is also agreed that the artistic and scientific treasures existing in the Vatican City [and] Lateran Palace shall remain open to students and visitors.

Another clause states that if the Holy See so requests, either in any single case or as a general rule, the Italian Government will see to the punishment in its own territory of crimes committed in the Vatican City. Similarly the Holy See will deliver to Italy persons who have taken refuge on Vatican territory accused of acts which are considered criminal by the laws of both States.

A further clause declares that the Vatican wishes to remain, and will remain extraneous to the temporal competitions between other States, as well as international congresses convened for this purpose, unless the parties in conflict appeal unanimously to its mission of peace, and reserves the right in any case to the exercise of its moral and spiritual power.

In consequence of the above, the Vatican territory will always be considered neutral and inviolable.

Then comes the following declaration:-

"The Holy See considers that with the agreements signed to-day it possesses the guarantees necessary to provide due liberty and independence to the spiritual government of the dioceses of Rome and of the Catholic Church in Italy and the whole world. It declares the Roman Question definitely and irrevocably settled and therefore eliminated, and recognises the Kingdom of Italy under the Dynasty of the House of Savoy with Rome as the capital of the Italian State. Italy on its side recognizes the State of the Vatican City under the sovereignty of the Supreme Pontiff.

"The Law of Guarantees and any other law or Act contrary to the present Treaty is abrogated.


The article concerning marriage is particularly interesting, and runs:-

The Italian State, wishing to restore dignity to matrimony, which is the basis of the family, in agreement with the Catholic tradition of its own people, recognises matrimony as a sacrament regulated by Canon Law in its relation to Civil Law. Banns of marriage must appear in the parish church as well as in the town hall. Immediately after the celebration of marriage the parish priest will explain to the married couple the civil consequences of marriage, reading the articles of the Civil Code concerning the rights and duties of the married.

The parish priest must also send within 5 days of the marriage a certificate to the Municipality and have it copied in the registers there.

Cases concerning nullity of marriage and dissolution of marriages celebrated but not consummated are reserved to the Ecclesiastical Courts. Their sentences, before becoming definitive must be brought before the Supreme Tribunal of the Segnatura, which will examine whether all the rules of Canon Law have been respected concerning the competence of the Judge and whether the interested parties were represented before the Court or judged in default.

The decision of the Supreme Tribunal of the Segnatura will be sent to the Court of Appeal by the Italian State, which will enforce the sentence of the Ecclesiastical authority ... ?? municipal ...?? [marriage registers?? ...] the Holy See consents to judgement being given by the Italian civil authorities.


Religious instruction will be compulsory not only in the elementary schools but also in secondary schools, according to a programme to be established in agreement between the Holy See and Italy.

Italy recognizes the Catholic organisations forming part of the "Italian Catholic Action" which according to the instructions of the Holy See, must keep their activities outside any political party, and under the immediate control of the hierarchy of the Church for the purpose of spreading and applying Catholic principles.

Towards the end the Concordat establishes that if in the future any difficulty arises in the interpretation of the same, the Holy See and Italy will solve it by mutual and friendly understanding.


The Financial Convention sets forth that the Holy See, as a definitive settlement of all financial relations with Italy in consequence of the loss of its temporal power in 1870 [accepts?] 750,000,000 lire (8,152,000) in cash [and?] 1,000,000,000 lire (10,869,000) in Italian State bonds bearing interest at 5 per cent. This sum is less than what Italy would have paid if the Holy See had accepted the allowance offered under the Law of Guarantees on May 13, 1871.

The Treaty of Conciliation, the Concordat, and the Financial Convention must be ratified by the Supreme Pontiff and the King of Italy within four months from the signature and have effect from the moment of ratification.


It should be remembered that the Freemasons, Jews, Jehovah's Witnesses, liberals and other political opposition groups, gypsies, and minorities were also persecuted by Hitler's Nazi regime in Germany and Nazi-occupied Europe during WWII. The Vatican had signed the 1929 Lateran Treaty with Mussolini's Fascist government, and soon followed with the signing of the Vatican-Nazi Concordat of 1933. Both regimes killed off all democratic freedoms and internal dissent, while persecuting so called 'enemies within,' before launching a brutal global war of annihilation in partnership with fascist Japan (Tripartite Pact) against other nations.

1. See the Catholic colonial world empires of Portugal, France, Spain, and Belgium - where often the Jesuits were the first into those territories to impose Catholic rule on the conquered peoples via the Inquisition, c. 1500s-1800s. See also the relevant treaties and Papal Bulls (such as Inter Caetera, 1493) dividing up the world between the Catholic colonial powers such as Spain and Portugal, etc. So much for 'JUSTITIA' and 'PAX' !

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