A distraught band of devout Siberians knocked in vain on America’s door this month. Their plea, significantly like that of many early American settlers, was for religious freedom. In one of the most heartbreaking episodes of the cold war, they were turned away.

Thirty-two men, women, and children were in the determined party that set out for Moscow from the Siberian coalmining town of Chernogorsk. Some carried babies in their arms. The 2,400-mile trip took four days, and they arrived in the Soviet capital hungry and cold.

There was some light snow in Moscow on the morning of January 3, and the temperature was well below freezing. The group obviously risked their lives in surging past the armed Soviet militiamen who guarded the gates at the U. S. Embassy. They described in detail how they had been persecuted for religious reasons, and they pleaded for help from American officials. They were quoted as expressing a desire to leave Russia, and some reports said they wanted to go to Israel.

The group was herded into a lunchroom building on the embassy compound. They were served coffee and a snack while embassy officials summoned representatives of the Soviet foreign ministry. A bus arrived, too, followed by Russian plainclothesmen.

The embassy refused to let correspondents see the group. The plainclothesmen threatened to confiscate the camera of any Western photographers who took pictures (some were said to have been taken nonetheless).

The group consisted of six men, twelve women, and fourteen children. They described themselves as “evangelical Christians” and complained that they had not been permitted to hold worship services, that they had not been allowed to observe religious holidays, and that in some instances they had been barred from contact with their children.

The group emerged from the lunchroom early in the afternoon. The bus had been backed to the lunchroom door and wooden panels set up to block the view. The panels were removed, however, and correspondents got their first good look. Most of the women wore traditional peasant felt boots, cotton dresses, padded jackets, and shawls. Some of the children were obviously ill.

One man told an embassy official: “We don’t want to go anywhere. They will shoot us.” Another pleaded that they would be arrested.

As they boarded the bus still another man in knee-length boots and a long overcoat turned toward newsmen and cried in a loud voice:

“Those who believe in God and Christ help us. We ask it. We ask that those who believe in God and Christ help us.”

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At this point, several men and women in the group wept openly.

The U. S. embassy apparently had offered them no encouragement. Said a spokesman:

“Obviously, we are not in a position to solve this kind of problem.”

He said another group of peasants from the same religious order forced their way into the British Embassy in Moscow last year, and some apparently were relatives of the latest group.

(The Synod of Bishops of the Russian Orthodox Church Outside of Russia said they had received copies of two petitions, including one signed by several thousand believers in the Tarnopol region, an unprecedented gesture in the Soviet Union. The petitions appealed to Premier Khrushchev to halt religious persecution. The synod’s office in New York charges that Soviet secret police persecution of monks at the famed Pochayev Monastery has reduced their number from 140 to 36.)

After part of the group had boarded the bus it drove outside the compound and stopped. Others balked, but finally they, too, walked to the bus.

When all were aboard, the bus drove off, headed for a railroad station and a train presumably bound for northern regions.

NEWS / A fortnightly report of developments in religion


Evangelist Billy Graham said the Siberian peasants’ bid for refuge in the U. S. Embassy in Moscow was evidence that the restrictions on freedom of worship in the Soviet Union “are far greater than we are led to believe.”

“It is a tragedy,” Graham observed, “that the United States calls itself a Christian nation and yet seemingly is powerless to help so many millions who suffer loss of freedoms.”

Dr. Oswald C. J. Hoffmann, “Lutheran Hour” radio preacher, said:

“It is strange that the right to asylum should be granted for years to a Hungarian national because of religious persecution but not to Russian nationals appealing for asylum on similar grounds. The American embassy in Moscow owes the American public an explanation which goes beyond the bland statement that it was following a policy of undetermined origin in denying to these Russians a right recognized, and in recent years resolutely asserted, by the U. S. government.”

State Department press officer Lincoln White, asked to differentiate the case of Josef Cardinal Mindzenty, who took refuge in the U. S. delegation in Budapest in 1956 and is still there, replied:

“The United States, while not recognizing the doctrine of political asylum, has, in exceptional cases, granted refuge on humanitarian grounds to an individual in immediate and grave danger.”

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White said U. S. missions abroad do not normally grant asylum, and the United States does not recognize the right of foreign missions in the United States to grant asylum.

White quoted a paragraph from the U. S. Foreign Affairs Manual which states that refuge “may be afforded to uninvited fugitives whose lives are in imminent danger from mob violence but only for the period during which active danger continues.” He left the impression that there were no other grounds for refuge.

Dr. Clyde W. Taylor, public affairs secretary of the National Association of Evangelicals, declared:

“It is lamentable that our embassy in Moscow could find no further means of assisting these evangelical Christians. This incident fits into the pattern of events developing in the Soviet Union in recent months. Numerous reports indicate increasing restiveness of Christians in that part of the world because of religious oppression. It is another indication that communism cannot afford a free and open contest of ideas which includes spiritual values.”

Shouts of “Guerra!” (war) rumbled out of Miami’s Orange Bowl stadium as President Kennedy addressed the just-released Cuban prisoners of war and more than 35,000 of their relatives and friends over the New Year’s weekend.

The cry voiced the determination of the survivors of the ill-fated Bay of Pigs invasion and their fellow refugees from Communist tyranny to return—they hoped soon—as a liberating army to their island homeland just 90 miles away. The whole setting hinted that U. S. involvement would go deeper than the scars of failure from the abortive action of 20 months before.

It was an ominous chant which spelled trouble for the more peaceful work of American churches. Slowly but surely they have been attacking the difficult problems arising out of the fact that more than 200,000 Cubans have piled into Miami in a three-year exodus from Fidel Castro’s lunacy.

Not that the thwarted invaders were any less spiritual than their compatriots. The Rev. Ismael Lugo, Catholic chaplain with the honored Brigade 2506, dedicated the men to God first and their country second in the invocation before President Kennedy spoke. And Juan Cabrera, a Free Will Baptist minister who was a regular soldier in the brigade, reported that worship services were carried on in the prison around a contraband Bible which miraculously appeared in their midst.

Returning prisoners appearing at a testimony meeting at the First Spanish United Presbyterian Church credited their release to answered prayer. And they told of instances of men in the prison finally turning to God.

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Yet, for the most part, the prisoners, like their fellow refugees, were not dedicated Christians. Fewer than 50 were evangelicals, and at most 300 were knowledgeable, devout Catholics.

Problems of Resettlement

But the trouble signalled by the war cries stirred by the gallant band of soldiers is expected in resettlement programs stressed by the various church refugee agencies.

It took a year and a half to really launch the resettlement programs. It seemed impossible that the stream of refugees could continue for any length of time, let alone continue to swell. And, at first, many felt Castro’s downfall was imminent. So the Catholic Relief Services agency, the 18 denominations represented in the Protestant Latin American Emergency Committee and working through Church World Service, the Hebrew International Aid Society, and the International Rescue Committee were not set up to do much but offer emergency food, clothing, and medical and housing aid to the Cubans.

The attitude of the refugees themselves was that they could wait right in Miami for their relatives and friends, be on hand to return to their homeland as soon as Castro was overthrown, be among people whose customs and language were the same, and enjoy a climate just like home. They were disinterested in, or afraid of, being resettled in another part of the country where, among other things, their federal aid checks would be cut off.

Nationally, churches were slow to recognize the problem. Locally, churches were reluctant to lose the opportunity for evangelization of the newcomers or to deplete the new Spanish congregations by resettling established members.

But the continued flow of refugees at the rate of 2,000 a week, an increasing problem of unemployment in the city of Miami, and a growing threat of friction with the native population because of it, finally triggered programs for resettling the Cubans in other parts of the country.

Now more than 50,000 Cubans have been resettled, some going to every state except Alaska. A majority of them—30,000—have been resettled through Catholic agencies. Protestants have resettled more than 8,000, Jews nearly 2,000, and the non-denominational International Rescue Committee nearly 12,000.

Resettlement had reached a peak of nearly 1,000 persons a week—as compared with 2,000 refugees a week still pouring into Miami—just before the Cuban missile crisis changed the picture again.

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The first effect was the end to twice-a-day commercial plane flights from Havana, which always had full loads of refugees. Some few other refugees still are managing to escape the island. Among the most recent is Dr. Pascual Herrera, director of the Baptist Hospital in Havana, who was forced by the government to stay on the job there. He escaped by boat to join his family, who had been in Miami for more than two years.

The most telling effect of the crisis, however, particularly since the release of the prisoners of war and the renewed talk of invasion, has been an almost complete halt of the resettlement program. Sensing a new hope of returning to their homeland soon, the Cubans are not willing to leave Miami.

Catholics Take the Limelight

The drying up of the pool of refugees willing to be resettled is bringing to the surface some of the frictions between Catholic and Protestant agencies in dealing with the whole problem.

The Catholic Church at first opposed resettlement; it felt it was easier to care for the refugees all from one center and to utilize the more than 100 Spanish-speaking priests and other religious persons who were among the first to be exiled. The large numbers concentrated in the one center also made a more dramatic story to encourage aid.

It was mainly the Catholic Church, along with city officials, that got the federal government interested in aiding the refugees. But Protestants resented the fact that government officials—in the beginning-talked only to local Catholic agancies and set up joint offices with the Catholic refugee center. Francis Cardinal Spellman was photographed handing a $10,000 check to President Eisenhower on the Augusta golf course for surplus food for the Cubans, and it was a front-page picture across the nation. But the same week the Southern Baptist Convention gave a similar amount of money through regular church channels and so got only a couple of lines in local papers.

Since a majority of the Cuban people are nominally Catholic (less than two per cent are Protestants), most of them would have registered for aid with the Catholic agencies anyway. Because of the way in which the government agency was set up at first, however, it was difficult for the Cubans to register with any of the other agencies. This situation was changed with time, and to date 68 per cent of the 150,000 refugees who have registered have registered with the Catholic welfare agency, 8 per cent with Church World Service, 2 per cent with HIAS, and 22 per cent with the International Rescue Committee.

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Significantly, while the Catholics have registered nearly 70 per cent of the refugees, they have handled just 60 per cent of those resettled. Protestants have resettled more than 15 per cent, while registering only 8 per cent.

When Church World Service inaugurated the “flights to freedom,” in which planeloads of refugees were resettled in other cities, the Catholics would not make it a joint project and derided the whole idea as impractical publicity-seeking. Now the Catholics have their own “flights to freedom.”

Protestant spokesmen have charged that they could step up their resettlement considerably, but the Catholic agencies are reluctant to let refugees registered with them be resettled through Protestant-sponsored projects. The Protestants themselves have run out of eligible people of their own to resettle. Many of those registered are too old or unskilled to be resettled, or are wives and children who are waiting for husbands and fathers still in Cuba.

Dr. O. G. Grotefend, director of the Protestant Latin American Emergency Committee, emphasized, “We do not attempt to ‘buy’ new church members by assisting them to resettle. But in all honesty, we must admit that a generosity of opinion is generated toward our church by our actions and many of these people are joining Protestant communions. However, this is a result and not a motive of Christian action.”

Hugh McLoone, director of the Catholic refugee center, hotly denied that his agency has ever stood in the way of Church World Service in resettling any Cubans. “We have transferred without question as many as 10 or 12 cases involving 20 or 25 people a day. But many times cases we transferred come back to us after several weeks because they have not been resettled.”

A Successful Program

Despite the friction in the mechanics of resettlement, the resettlement of the Cubans themselves has proved to be highly successful. Both the Cubans and the American communities where they have been relocated are pleased.

Miami’s Protestant churches—particularly the Episcopalians and Methodists—are doing an outstanding job of preparing refugees for resettlement. They are teaching them English (the principal requirement for getting employment) and how to cook American foods, and are giving them medical aid and clothing.

More than half the Cubans aided in this manner are nominal Catholics who heard by word of mouth of the opportunities offered. Some did not know that the Protestant church even existed in their homeland, and others had been told that Protestants were worse than Communists. The Protestant centers do not push religion on the refugees, but they do make it clear that spiritual aid is available and stress that the centers themselves are spiritually motivated.

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On the other end, it is the churches in the cities where Cubans are being resettled which are making the programs possible. Members of congregations take complete responsibility for the refugee families. They provide a house and furnishings, a job, friendship, and the promise of continued help until the Cubans become established members of the community.

The resettlement program has so impressed American communities that Grand Rapids, Michigan, for example, has a waiting list of homes who want to take in refugees, even though the Christian Reformed Church already has brought three groups of the Cubans to the city.

So it has been throughout the nation. More than 13,000 refugees have been resettled in New York, nearly 6,000 in New Jersey, nearly 3,000 in California, and more than 2,000 in Illinois. The only bad taste came with an early, poorly organized project in Cleveland which later worked out smoothly through the efforts, mainly, of the Protestant churches of the area.

Meanwhile the Miami churches have been rather successful with their type of local resettlement programs, integrating many of the more than 100,000 remaining refugees into the permanent population. Dozens of churches now have at least one Cuban in a position of leadership.

Nearly 300 Protestant families have provided foster homes for Cuban children separated from their parents. The Miami Diocese of the Catholic Church is aiding five times that number of children with an orphanage-type arrangement at three major centers. The Episcopal refugee center has provided college scholarships to 24 Cuban young people of all denominations, including one youth who will study for the Episcopal priesthood and whose Catholic priest teachers in Cuba told him the Anglican church did not exist in his homeland.

But the major portion of the Cubans still in Miami depend on the church refugee centers mostly for food, clothing, and medical aid to supplement the basic support they receive from the U. S. government—which, incidentally, foots the travel expenses of resettlement.

With the Cuban crisis still with us, 1963 promises to be a year of continued demand upon the chinches to aid and resettle the refugees. The Episcopal church alone has asked its members to contribute not less than $450,000 this year for this work. Baptists are asking their churches in each state to take one month in which they will contribute $10,000 cash plus clothing and food for Cuban relief. Other denominations have budgeted similar amounts for the work.

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In addition, Presbyterians, with the aid of the National and Florida Councils of Churches, have prepared a series of radio and television programs to instruct local refugees as to what aid is available, encourage them to relocate, and offer them a spiritual lift. Other programs are designed to prepare other communities across the nation to join in the project and receive Cuban refugees. But the question now is whether the refugees will be willing to be resettled in the light of their hope that an imminent, U. S.-supported invasion will free their homeland so that they can return, many of them to a deeper spiritual life and more vigorous church life than their nation has ever known.

A. T.


The “evangelical market,” associated mostly with literature and insurance, broke new ground last month.

In Miami Beach, a ten-story oceanfront hotel opened its doors to a teetotaler clientele.

In Detroit, a “Christian supper club” promised the best in sanctified entertainment.

Both enterprises use converted facilities. The Miami Beach hotel, the Biltmore Terrace, was purchased by Chicago builder A. Harold Anderson, whose renovation program featured substitution of a citrus juice counter for the liquor bar.

Anderson, a layman of the Evangelical Covenant Church of America, arranged daily chapel services, but seeks to avoid the Bible conference approach. He said the hotel merely caters to those who prefer a non-alcoholic atmosphere, whether they be Christians or not.

Charles Pitts, noted Toronto builder and active Christian layman, is experimenting with a similar hotel venture in Fort Lauderdale.

The Christian restaurant in Detroit was the inspiration of Ed Darling, former leader of that city’s Voice of Christian Youth (Youth for Christ affiliated). It is known as the Crossroads Supper Club. Darling also hoped to begin a breakfast club broadcast for Christian women.

“We have labored all night and taken nothing.” So said some Roman Catholic bishops shortly before the Second Vatican Council suspended its labors until next September, after two months of work during which not one full decree or constitution was adopted. At first blush some may consider this a poor performance for what had been billed as the “best prepared” council in history. Even preparatory work of the past two years will be completely overhauled in the next nine months. The pope has created a control commission which will coordinate activity of the working commissions in the interim.

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Only four drafts reached the council floor. These were the liturgical schema, the schema on the sources of revelation, the schema on mass communications, and the project, “On the Church,” which was discussed only briefly and in general.

Of the liturgical draft, the amended preface and the first chapter were voted on. Bishops with the approval of the Holy See may now change many parts of the Mass from Latin into the vernacular. The non-controversial draft on mass communications was quickly approved in principle and sent back for further study.

The schema on the sources of revelation—reportedly a high point of the council from the viewpoint of dramatic debate—was, in effect, rejected by a nearly two-thirds vote. Pope John’s intervention is regarded as a significant turning point. The question has been referred to a special mixed commission which has been enlarged by the addition of a co-chairman and a number of bishops who had been working with the commission for Christian unity. The place of tradition in regard to revelation is at issue.

Despite an apparent slowness of movement, Father Robert A. Graham, Religious News Service special correspondent, considers council developments “positive and encouraging.” He describes the “most important milestone” reached as the “clarification, scope and purpose” of the council. “Debates registered a dominant pastoral orientation of the Council Fathers. This concentration was sanctioned by Pope John in his directive of norms issued in the last days of the first session.”

Graham speaks also of “startling structural changes” witnessed by the church in council. One is the “tacit acceptance of the existence of national hierarchies acting as groups during debates on the liturgy. For instance, many bishops spoke on the need of allowing regional Church leaders to determine for themselves, even if with approval of the Holy See, what applications and modifications need to be made in liturgy conformable to specific needs of their respective peoples and faithful.”

A “most important structural evolution” of which “the record does not speak,” observes Graham further, “is the new relationship between bishops and the Pope. Hitherto, bishops’ contacts with the Holy See have been theoretically with the Pope but actually with the Papal Congregations or the administration of the Roman Curia.… At the Council this has changed, probably for good, as the Fathers now find themselves associated directly with the Pope in great decisions affecting the Church.”

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Observers have noted hopefully the ready acceptance of the trans-Alpine prelates and their influence on the council. And the Protestant delegate-observers have been impressed by the fraternal treatment accorded them—as if they were members of sister churches. (No official position, however, has been taken to that effect. It is easier to fail to repeat an action than to revise a dogma.) Roman Catholics have in turn been impressed by the visitors’ “admirable discretion in delicate circumstances strange and unprecedented for all concerned.” The pope is said to have taken the side of liberal forces which wish to stress the affirmative side of matters rather than delivering anathemas. Thus the health of Pope John, who in 1962 became the first religious figure to be designated Time’s “Man of the Year,” could have vital bearing on the council’s future. As recess came, he said: “One year is a long time. I may not be here. If I am not, there certainly will be another Pope.”

Some have asked whether historical differences loom larger than theological, due to the current lack of significant interchanges between Romanism and Greek Orthodoxy, the latter being theologically closer to Rome than Protestantism. The situation is obscure, but ecclesiastical tensions are said probably to be due more to Athens than to Istanbul, Moscow, or Rome.

Protestants have their fingers crossed in regard to the whole field of Mariolatry, including the introduction of St. Joseph into the Mass—the council has not yet acted. And permissible marriage of priests and communion under both kinds are regarded as yet several councils away.

Protestant ecumenists are actually not expecting too much. They sense a danger of rising Catholic expectations that Protestants will return to union with Rome because of friendly treatment.

In the area of public relations, Protestants in general have been rather discouraged by the Roman policy of secrecy in matters of council deliberation. But the cloak has not been sufficient to hide the fact of internal Roman controversy. An eminent Protestant theologian has noted that the generous treatment given the Protestant delegate-observers has rendered it tactless for them to tell the world of “the tremendous contrasts and even hostilities they have observed.” But a Catholic bishop returning home told him of his surprise at the wealth of different opinions, and spoke of a prelate who went to the council with very definite orthodox views but had since changed his mind completely. This Protestant theologian comments that the Roman problems are those troubling churches everywhere: Scripture and tradition, Scripture and Church, inspiration and inerrancy. “The fight between Cardinals Ottaviani and Bea is paralleled by that between the fundamentalist and critical—not ‘modernist’ for modernism was ousted by Pius X—interpretations. ‘Critical and Catholic’: this program of Bishop Gore and the people around Lux Mundi would correspond to the Pontifical Biblical Institute. It will be a tremendous job for the newly-appointed commission to prepare statements which in the fall of 1963 will please all bishops, or at least a substantial majority. It is one of the most crucial years of the history of the Roman Church.”

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And if the Roman prelates have grave problems in reaching agreement among themselves in this area, the orthodox Protestant who would like to look hopefully upon the council begins to envision the necessity for a few centuries of councils before agreement could possibly be reached on such great evangelical principles as:

(1) The authority of Scripture alone, which leaves no room for the Roman elevation of church tradition and “the living mind of the Church,” nor for the papacy either.

(2) Christ as sole Mediator, which renders superfluous a system of priestcraft, Mariolatry, and hagiolatry.

(3) Justification by faith alone, which means that while good works have a place in one’s salvation, they have nothing to do with his justification.

The anathemas directed by the Council of Trent at Protestant theology have never been withdrawn.

F. F.

The Brink Of Violence

Police moved in swiftly last month when an “anti-proselytizing” outburst in Jerusalem threatened to get out of hand. The incident occurred at a center operated by the Hebrew Evangelical Society, a Protestant group, in the Mushara section of the Israeli city. The area is densely populated by Orthodox Jewish immigrants, mainly from Morocco.

Trouble arose after Yaacov Goren, director of the center, and an official named Elzam, both converted Jews, had invited neighborhood children to a Chanukah celebration, reportedly without the consent of their parents who were attending a local synagogue.

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When the parents emerged from the synagogue and began looking for their children, they found them chanting Chanukah and Christmas songs. Stones were thrown, and one of them struck Goren’s wife, Leah, wounding her slightly. Order was restored when police arrived and took two men into custody. During the ensuing weekend, the mission was placed under strong police protection.

Another minor incident occurred when a man said to be drunk tried to interfere with a Christmas celebration to which about 50 Indian-born Jews had been invited.

In an editorial on the earlier incident, Yediot Aharonot, an evening newspaper, called on the government to put an end to “missionary soul-hunting.” This came after the National Religious Party had made special mention of the missionary society in a strong attack against the “unholy alliance” between missionary groups and other elements opposed to religious reform in the Jewish state.

The Hebrew Evangelical Society, founded in 1931 by Arthur Michelson, has its headquarters in Los Angeles. It was registered in Palestine in 1946. It is not affiliated with the United Christian Council in Israel which represents about 20 major Protestant communities and societies. Dr. Maas Boertien, secretary general of the council, has on several occasions criticized “tactless, aggressive” methods used by certain missionary groups.

Since the establishment of the state of Israel, the Hebrew Evangelical Society has been engaged mainly in distributing clothes and food parcels to new immigrants. Allegations that it engaged in blackmarket operations have been made. One official, Ralph Bong, was deprived some time ago of his temporary residence permit.

In an interview, Goren praised the “correct” attitude of the police after the stone-throwing incident. At the same time, he denied reports that the children who came to the Chanukah party had done so without their parents’ consent.

“Indeed,” he said, “some of the parents attended the party.”

Claiming that the mission center’s relations with the people in the neighborhood were “quite good,” Goren said the “trouble-makers” had come from out-the area. He added that the children’s party was in a “strictly Jewish style” and no attempt was made to mingle Christmas and Chanukah observances.

Goren stressed that he did not mix philanthropic activities with his missionary work. He said that he did not have a congregation in the strict sense of the term and that he belongs to a Baptist church.

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The Alternate Course

A Jewish-born Catholic monk, whose petition to claim Jewish nationality under Israel’s Law of Return was rejected, applied last month for the status of permanent resident as a non-Jew.

Father Daniel, 40-year-old Carmelite born of Jewish parents in Poland, applied for an Israeli identity card at Haifa as a first step toward possible application for citizenship by naturalization.

Automatic Israeli citizenship is granted Jews under the 1950 Law of Return. The high court, in a 4–1 decision, ruled that the law does not apply to Jews who abandon Judaism for another religion. However, the court said, it does apply to Jews who profess atheism.

A government official indicated that Father Daniel’s application for resident status would be granted. He would be registered as Catholic by religion, but the nationality section in his identity card would be left blank, the official said.

Father Daniel, who was born Oswald Shumel Refeisen and who came to the Haifa Carmelite monastery three years ago from Poland, had petitioned the court to grant him citizenship on the basis of his being Jewish in the national, rather than the religious, sense.

There was widespread press controversy over the court’s rejection of his petition, with some publications siding with Judge Haime Cohen, the lone dissenter in the majority ruling. Judge Cohen had upheld Father Daniel’s claim, stating that Jewish nationality should be defined without regard to religion.

A guiding principle on Jewish identity was given by the Cabinet to the Interior Minister on July 20, 1958. It stated: “One who in good faith declares himself to be a Jew and is not a member of another religion shall be registered as a Jew.”

Cohen, in dissenting, held that the Cabinet had exceeded its authority in including in its definition the phrase “and is not a member of another religion.” He said: “If the Legislature wished to restrict the compass of the law to Jews who are not members of another religion … it could and should explicitly have said so. Since it has not said so, the law must be interpreted and implemented literally, in a manner that does not inform the term Jew with any religious content or attach to it any religious reservations.”

The majority opinion, on the other hand, declared that “a Jew who has gone over to another religion has excluded himself not only from the Jewish religion but also from the Jewish nation and has no place in the community of Israel. In the mind of the Jewish people, a Jew and a Christian cannot dwell within one person.”

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The Park At Katerini

In the picturesque Aegean seaport of Katerini, the Greek Evangelical Church is appealing to the courts an order for seizure of a park which has been the basis of a long-standing dispute. To the 600 families which make up the evangelical community in that town of approximately 30,000, the park is an all-important symbol of their religious freedom. The evangelicals have indicated several times that they will fight to protect their claim to ownership. Latest incident last fall saw evangelical women and children swarm into the park to challenge armed police carrying out the seizure order. The women subsequently set up a round-the-clock vigil to thwart any further seizure attempts. Tents were erected to protect them from the rain. Authorities held up the seizure attempt pending a court decision expected March 5.

Meanwhile, a furious attack against the persecution was undertaken by the only two local newspapers, both published by evangelicals. Their opponents, lacking a medium for rebuttal, decided to publish a newspaper of their own at the biblical city of Thessalonica, some 65 miles to the north. Returning to Katerini late one night with a cargo of opposition newspapers, Constantine Papatheodorou, editor-publisher, was burned to death with two companions following a highway accident.

“This misfortune deeply grieved the evangelical people here,” said the Rev. Athanasios Elias, acting pastor of the Greek Evangelical Church. “They have learned to pray for their enemies and have never missed the opportunity to offer help to those who persecute them.”

A leading state official, a Greek Orthodox, was not as kind:

“The Lord looked upon their injustice and burned them alive.”

Relief In Spain

The Spanish Embassy in Washington advised the National Association of Evangelicals last month that steps have been taken to relieve the situation which led to the court martial last year of a Protestant soldier, Jose Cabrera Romero, for failure to kneel during a Roman Catholic mass he was obligated to attend as part of his military duty.

Missionary News Service reported that in reply to an inquiry, Alonzo Alvarez de Toledo, secretary of the embassy, said:

“While pertinent legislation is being studied, the Spanish government, desirous of avoiding further inconveniences to non-Catholic soldiers, has directed that in the future non-Catholic soldiers will be excluded from duty involving ceremonies of the Catholic faith. Furthermore, a new wording of the pledge of allegiance to the flag has been drafted that will not offend the religious beliefs of non-Catholics.”

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“Although these measures have not yet been enacted as law,” the secretary added, “they have already been put into practice.”

Meanwhile, a report made public in Madrid by the International Commission of Jurists said that the Roman Catholic Church in Spain enjoys freedom of expression and association, but that other religions have only a limited freedom of worship.

The report declared that while the Catholic Church has a “strong position,” this is exceptional, since any general exercise of the freedom it possesses “has for years been rendered impossible” by legislation under the Franco regime.

Charges in the 153-page report, entitled “Spain and the Rule of Law,” were promptly denied by the Spanish government. A dispatch from Madrid said the government branded it as “another useless bomb in the anti-Spanish campaign,” while Minister of Information Manuel Fraga Iribarne said it was “plagued” with errors.

The International Commission of Jurists is a non-governmental, non-political organization holding consultative status with the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations. It is supported by some 40,000 lawyers and judges in about 90 countries.

The Catholicity of the Spanish state and the position it bestows on the Catholic Church “inevitably weaken constitutional guarantees of religious freedom,” the commission’s report declared.

“Something even more open to criticism,” it said, “is that freedom of conscience, meaning that none shall be molested on account of his religious beliefs, is not firmly respected.”

The report said ample evidence of the Catholic Church’s strong position was provided by its criticism of the state’s social policy, and the support given by Catholic organizations to the strike staged by the Asturian miners last April.

“The Church,” it said, “did not even hesitate to postulate the act of striking, under certain circumstances, as one of the rights of workers, even though legislation for the protection of the state has equated a strike with a military rebellion.”

“The Church’s intervention in social policy discussions,” the report went on to note, “is based on the encyclical, Mater et Magistra. This encyclical, which met with an enormous response in Spain, enables the Church to claim undisturbed propaganda of Catholic social doctrine as part of its apostolate, the free exercise of which was guaranteed by Article 34 of the concordat (between Spain and the Vatican).”

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