Several international meetings have been held to collect and analyze information on Communist policies toward religious bodies, anti-religious propaganda, “underground” churches, and related matters.

The latest and probably most significant of these meetings took place in Ottawa last month. More than seventy persons participated, including two professors from Yugoslavia. Scholars who had been invited from the Soviet Union, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, and Poland did not arrive because of “pressing” duties.

The International Symposium on Religion and Atheism in Communist Societies was closed to the press in an apparent effort to create a relaxed atmosphere in which a dialogue could develop between participants from varying ideological persuasions. Thus observers couldn’t quote participants directly. But papers presented at the symposium are to be published by Carleton University. The university, along with its Committee on Soviet and East European Studies, sponsored the symposium in cooperation with the Canadian Association of Slavists and the American Association for the Advancement of Slavic Studies.

Certain apprehension was expressed during the five-day session about the relations of the Vatican and the World Council of Churches with the Soviet Union and other Communist countries. Several participants voiced fear that both the Vatican and the WCC might be going too far and too fast in efforts to accommodate Communist leaders.

Some wondered whether an “ecumenical Munich” might not be in the offing in which dissenting Christians and underground churches would be forgotten or sacrificed to obtain a modus vivendi with Communist governments. Such an appeasement mood is seen, it was pointed out, in the failure of such international ...

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