Page 6, 5th July 1946

5th July 1946
Page 6
Page 6, 5th July 1946 — GUNN AR KUM LEIN, the well-known Swedish Journalist, is touring
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GUNN AR KUM LEIN, the well-known Swedish Journalist, is touring

the Near and Middle East. In a short series of articles, arranged for by The Catholic Herald, he is describing aspects of his tour of special interest to Catholic readers.

THE SOVIET CHURCH OUT TO

APPEASE GREEKS

In his first article, written from Athens, Mr. Kumlein describes the effort of the Soviet Church to appease the Greek Orthodox and the consequent improved relations between the Greek Orthodox and the Catholics.

Wilt the Greek Orthodox Church, he writes, be able to resist the growing attraction of the reborn Soviet-sponsored Orthodox Church? This question is raised a little everywhere in Greece to-day

Since the Council of the Orthodox Churches in Moscow in Fehluary, 1945, during which many representatives of the Orthodox Churches outside Russia and the Russian security zone were invited (as the Patriarch of Alexandria and the Patriarch of Alaska and the Aleutian Islands), the activity of the Russian Church has been steadily increasing in ender to gain effluence among the other Orthodox Churches. Representatives of the Russian. Church have been touring the Near East and repaid the visit the Patriarch of Alexandria made in Moscow.

The old opposition between the Bulgarian Church and the Patriarch of Constantinople has been smoothed owing to Russian influence, and the relations between the Bulgarian clergy and the Patriarch are now normal.

Everywhere the Russian Church is trying to get in touch with other Christian communities and is as tolerant and broad-minded towards them as it is constantly anti-Catholic.

The same Russian influence which has led to the reconciliation of the Bulgarian clergy with the Patriarch of Constantinople has led to the expulsion of practically, all the Catholics in Albania and of all the Catholic missions there.

The Greek Church as a whole seems to have resisted so far to the Russian " advances." At the election recently of the new Patriarch of Constantinople, " primus inter par " among the Greek Patriarchs, a Greek bishop was chosen according to the traditions. It was the Bishop of Chalcedon, who assumed the name of Maximos V. lie is known to be a clever and ambitious diplomatist, with a great experience and a deep culture. At the coronation ceremony the Greek diplomatic representatives were, according to tradition, at the place of honour, and the Russian diplomatic representatives at the second place of honour as in the old Tsarist times.

NATIONALISM OF GREEK CHURCH In Greece, nationalistic feelings have always been closely mixed up with the religious traditions of the country. Even to-day. a Greek is considered to be a good Greek only if he belongs to the Greek Church. The mere idea that the glorious national Church should become dependent on a foreign Church, even if it is an Orthodox one, is thoroughly unpleasant to the mind of the people. In addition the E.A.M., the extreme Leftist parties, dominated by the Communists, has gravely compromised itself in the eyes of the majority during the excesses of the civil war in December, 1944, and at the same time compromised everything which has to do with the Russians. Many Greeks stick now to their Church for fear of Communism in the same way as many Greeks who were not Monarchists before the events of December, 1944, are Monarchists now. Thus the Greek Church, more for nationalistic reasons then for religious or moral reasons, remains the only important fraction of the Orthodox Churches which so far has stood up to the centralising tendencies of Alexis, the Pau-inch of Moscow and of all Russia.

IMPORTANCE OF BRITISH TROOPS

But as the reasons are purely nation. alistic and not moral or religious, the independence of the Greek Church depends very much on the British troops in the country.

According to most impartial observers in Greece the withdrawal of the British forces would mean a new civil war, with a probable final victory for the well-organised E.A.M. minority aided by " the progressive forces" on the other side of the northern Greek border.

Even in spite of the presence of the British troops a part of the Greek Church is openly sympathising with the E.A.M. It is mostly comprised of members of the low secular clergy, but includes the four Bishops of Kozani, of Elia, of Chios and of Eubia.

According to talks I have had with Greek Bishops who fear the attractions of the Soviet-sponsored Russian Church, the relations between the Greek Church and the Roman Catholic Church " are not as had as they were before."

One of these Bishops, Bishop Panteleinion, of Edhessa and Pella, expressed his hope of a closer collaboration tvatween the Greek Church and of all other Christian Churches who take up a stand against the Communist doctrines, including the Roman Catholic Church. This seems to be the only way for the Greek Church in the long run to conserve its independence and save itself from becoming an instillment of Russian imperialism.




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