A prominent Russian Orthodox prelate in the United States says that the World Council of Churches is letting down its constituency in the Soviet Union.

Archbishop John Shahovskoy, a member of the WCC Central Committee, declared in an interview this month that persecution of the Russian Orthodox Church has increased since it became a member of the World Council in 1961.

He spoke as Archbishop of San Francisco and the Western United States of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church of America.

“The World Council should publicize what is going on by way of religious reprisals and restrictions,” said Archbishop John. “It should inform member churches and the Christian world of all the facts available to it, whether these facts concern Russia, Spain, or some other country.”

He declared that the non-Communist world ought not to be obliged to form its opinions of Soviet life on what it hears about Communist “showcases” such as Moscow and Leningrad.

“The World Council should publicly protest the Communist campaign against religion in the Soviet Union,” he added.

Archbishop John noted that public world opinion has already had a beneficial effect in some instances. He said that a seminary that the Communists threatened to dose was kept open when various media in the West aroused a storm of protest.

Up until now the World Council has never uttered any official disapproval of Communist efforts to suppress religious activity in the Soviet Union. It is understood that WCC leaders have attempted private negotiations in behalf of Soviet Christians, but no progress has been reported. These WCC leaders presumably feel that any overt gestures might be interpreted as politically motivated and might ...

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