The NCC will either support or strangle its publication on religion in Communist-dominated areas

Never has the religious situation in Communist countries been more confused and ambiguous than it is today.

Except for Mao’s China, where the fury of the barbaric “cultural revolution” strikes hard against Buddhists and Muslims as well as Protestants and Catholics, a relative calm and a sort of “peaceful coexistence” now seems to prevail between governments and various religious groups. Church delegations from Communist countries visit the United States and other Western nations almost routinely. Various churches of the Soviet Union and other Communist nations have been permitted to join the World Council of Churches and international denominational bodies. Roman Catholic representatives from most Communist countries were able to attend the sessions of Vatican Council II.

The greatest breakthrough in church-state relations in the Soviet Union was the first visit of the head of the Soviet Union to the Vatican in January of this year, the fiftieth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution. Church dignitaries are now more often invited to official state receptions in Communist capitals though they are not yet asked to say grace at banquets given by Communist leaders. It is becoming almost routine for the officials of ministries of foreign affairs and other high state offices in Communist nations to be present at the arrivals and departures of national and foreign ecclesiastical dignataries.

A superficial observer might be easily tempted to misinterpret such phenomena. He might conclude, hastily and optimistically, that the churches behind the Iron Curtain are now much better off than before, that the coexistence between religion and Communism ...

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