OCTOBER 13, 1958
NEW YORK—The death of Pope Pius XII is universally mourned. I think all of us have felt that during his tenure as Pope he carried out the promise of his earlier years very remarkably. He was a profound student, a deeply good man of high intellectual attainment. He met the problems and difficulties faced by his church in these troubled years with as much patience and wisdom as any man could muster. The loss of any good man, no matter what his religion, is a loss to the whole world, for there are not too many others who can exert a beneficial influence and give strength to the forces of virtue. We pay our homage to him and hope that his successor will follow the traditions he built.
The news, as I write, sounds hopeful of an extension of the cease-fire around Quemoy. We have evidently signified our willingness to talk with the Communist Chinese. I would like us to insist, however, that the talks also begin between the Communist Chinese and the Nationalist Chinese. Until that comes about there will be no real stability in the Far Eastern situation and the Nationalist leaders will continue to make the kind of speech which General Chiang Kai-shek is reported to have made to his armies a few days ago.
In that speech, Chiang is quoted as having said that the first victory has been won in Quemoy and now they must take the mainland, implying that the United States must do the major part of this work. This is absolutely impossible to visualize, however, since anyone who has ever sent an army into China has experienced what it means to be lost. I can understand perfectly why the government on Formosa is anxious as far as possible to sew up all the help they can expect from their allies. The Generalissimo, of course, would like to make the United States feel that they are responsible for everything he desires to bring about. But unfortunately this is something we should make extremely clear is neither our duty nor our intention.
What wonderful autumn days we are having! When I did a recording Friday morning with Mary Margaret McBride she mentioned that in the Catskills, where she has a home, a frost has already turned the leaves on the trees to brilliant hues. On the parkway driving up from here to Hyde Park last week we had not yet reached the peak of brilliant color. I was torn between the desire to have my guests enjoy the beauties of our red and gold trees and the equally strong wish to preserve a little longer the late roses, the astors and marigolds and chrysanthemums that bloom still in my garden. I haven't an idea what I will find when I drive up next weekend, but I am looking forward to my day in the country, and to my guests who will be with me for Saturday at least.