For years there have been rumblings that the Soviet Union wanted to adopt official state relations with the Vatican. A series of events in recent months tended to confirm these rumors. The private audience granted by Pope John XXIII this month to Alexei Adzhubei, Premier Khrushchev’s son-in-law, seemed to consolidate the speculation.

NEWS / A fortnightly report of developments in religion

WHAT SOVIET CHURCHMEN SAY

What did the delegation of Soviet churchmen visiting America think of a possible agreement between their country and the Vatican?

Archbishop Nikodim, acting as spokesman for the group, said in a press conference in Washington that establishment of good relations between all countries is beneficial. But he added that the specific case of Soviet-Vatican relations was “not a matter within my competence to discuss.”

The youthful Soviet delegation (only 5 of the 16 were born before the Revolution) did not include any Roman Catholics.

The Rev. A. I. Mitzkevitch, associate general secretary of the Union of Evangelical Christian Baptists, flatly denied reports that he wished to defect to the West. Mitzkevitch said the reports were “insulting.”

The reports were traced to a Russian refugee who appeared at protest rallies spearheaded by Dr. Carl McIntire. The refugee said he had talked at length with Mitzkevitch.

NCC spokesmen blamed McIntire for putting Mitzkevitch on the spot and expressed concern for the churchman, who may have to answer the accusations when he returns to Russia.

“It’s the most reprehensible thing McIntire has ever done,” said one NCC aide. “He’s playing with human lives and he may end up with blood on his hands.”

Osservatore Romano, Vatican City newspaper, stated as far back as 1948 that Rome is willing to enter ...

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