Proposal: A Vatican Commission on Displaced Persons," March 1946


Proposal: A Vatican Commission on Displaced Persons

The initial phase of refugee aid after World War II was fairly self-explanatory, as the Allies looked to the task of repatriating those refugees who did have a desire to return to their home country. After that task had been completed, they were left with around 400,000 people, according to this document’s estimate, who did not elect to return to their home countries. Guesses as to the total number of Displaced Persons (DPs) would go up and down over time, but a central group of "hard-core" DPs remained unwilling to be repatriated. This proposal is oddly silent about the reason why some DPs elected not to return, which was, as is said in other documents in this collection, out of fear of Communism.

For the most part, this proposal talks about the general scope of authority which a potential Vatican Commission on Displaced Persons would have: the Commission, it was planned, would order bishops and priests in possible resettlement destinations to work out the legal details with their various governments. The Vatican Commission would also play the role of a central authority which could direct the local efforts at aid. Notably, the Church’s relationship with the United Nations Relief and Rehabilitation Administration (UNRRA) would also take place through the Commission on Displaced Persons, rather than through informal channels. As we shall see in later documents, some version of this organizational blueprint did, in fact, come to pass



  •  What countries, other than the US, does this proposal list as participating in the resettlement effort?  
  •  Explain some ways in which this proposal shows a concern for the spiritual, as well as physical, welfare of the DPs.
  •  Does this proposal offer ways in which the DPs can take an active, rather than merely passive, part in their resettlement?  What special skills do they have that might be useful to a potential Commission?