Jerusalem (Aug. 5)
Italy is trying to influence Christian public opinion in Syria and Lebanon with a view to having the mandate over Syria transferred from France to Italy, the Moslem papers in Syria allege in reporting that M. Barlasina, the Papal Legate in Jerusalem, accompanied by six Italian priests, has toured Syria incognito.
The Patriarch of the Maronites, a Christian people in communion with the Catholic Church living in Lebanon, is manoeuvering for Italy, according to one pro-French Maronite leader who asserts that “a hidden hand is exploiting the Maronite clergy”. The same leader charges that “an agent of the Vatican in Syria is assidously working toward the same end”.
In connection with the reported campaign to have the mandate over Syria transferred to Italy the Moslem papers in Syria recall that when the Vatican signed the Lateran treaty with the Italian State, the Papal agent ordered all the convents and monasteries in Syria to fly the Italian flag instead of the French emblem, causing a Franco-Italian incident which is still unsettled. The papers also point out that the Pope has frequently decorated many Lebanese and Syrians though the honor was not particularly merited.