18 July 2008

Why not Rome

Well, turns out Rome was bombed in ww2. On a couple of days each in 43 and 44. The yanks on behalf of the allies swore black and blue that they were staying right away from the Vatican City, and focussed on a train station and an airport.

According to wikipedia (acknowledged not a fully reliable source, but I'm not in such a reasearch-y mood) On November 5, 1943, a single Nazi plane dropped four bombs on the Vatican, destroying a mosaic studio near the Vatican railway station and breaking the windows of the high cupola of St. Peter's.

While the world, well Sydney, turns to all things Catholic, I just found this little bit of historical documentation. It's an original letter from all the archbishops of Australia writing to PM John Curtin to ask him immediately to refrain from bombing the Vatican City. Apart from the fact that I think the Pope is a real and present danger in today's world*, this is a great letter. Really beautifully expressed, it talks of this "ghastly war" and check this out:

individually, we have in season and out of season, but always in vain, appealed to reason and sanity in this world of madness, in which Christian civilisation seems to be rushing headlong to destruction.

Wish I could write like that. The best part is the cover note, which says bluntly:

"I confidently rely upon you and the Australian government to take any actions that circumstances suggest and permit."
P.S. "Later, I plan to hand the enclosed document to the Press".

Very bolshie Greenpeace-style media strategy there in 1944. Nice one, Archbishop of Melbourne.

*It's to do with not allowing contraception for anyone, even if they have Aids or are very sick from having lots of babies.

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