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 into friendly relations with Russia “as soon as possible,” just as with all other countries.
There were rumors in 1960, moreover, when leaders of Italy’s Christian Democratic Party paid a visit to the U. S. S. R. and met Soviet officials who said Russia hoped for some agreement similar to that signed between Poland and the Holy See.
The following year saw Premier Khrushchev surprise the world by sending greetings to Pope John on the latter’s 80th birthday. Il Paese, Italian pro-Communist newspaper, was quick to note that this was the first time since before the 1917 revolution that a head of government in Russia had directly contacted the Roman pontiff.
Early this year L’Unita, another Italian Communist newspaper, reported that Pope John exchanged New Year’s greetings with Khrushchev.
Then last month came the announcement that Ukrainian Rite Archbishop Josyf Slipyi had been released after 18 years of Soviet imprisonment.
Adzhubei was asked at a press conference if his visit to Rome was to prepare the ground for the opening of relations between Russia and the Vatican. He replied with a generalized statement which neither denied nor confirmed the possibility.
Religious News Service reported, however, that his 18-minute audience with the Pope and the pontiff’s reported assurance that he was willing to receive Khrushchev himself tended to confirm belief in religious circles that the Kremlin was, in fact, actively interested in the establishment of some form of agreement with the Holy See. Adzhubei is editor of Izvestia, top Communist organ, and is the first leading Soviet figure ever to meet a pope face to face.
RNS also reported that there is now speculation that the fine hand of Soviet diplomacy will show itself again in making it possible for Josef Cardinal Mindszenty to leave the shelter of the U. S. legation in Budapest and go to Rome to accept a Curia post. There is even said to be talk that eventually Archbishop Josef Beran of Prague, arrested and banished from his see 12 years ago by the Czechoslovak Communist regime, may be permitted to resume his episcopal office.
Asked if he believed that there could be “any understanding between the Holy See and an atheist state like the Soviet Union,” Adzhubei replied by saying that coexistence involves states but not ideas, and it is an extremely grave question “even if we believe that ideological controversies should not be solved through war.”
In his talk with journalists in Rome, Adzhubei spoke of a possible “concordat” between Rome and Moscow. However, this could not conceivably be the type of agreement that Moscow wants, says RNS, since “it involves a whole range of religious guarantees and safeguards which the Soviet Union would not tolerate.”
According to Catholic informants, any agreement between the Vatican and the Soviet government would most likely be confined to assuring satisfactory communication between the Holy See and the faithful in the U. S. S. R.
Adzhubei and his wife called on the Pope after they had gone to the Vatican Palace to attend a group audience at which the Pope was officially notified of the 1963 Peace Prize ($51,000) awarded him by the Italian-Swiss Balzan Foundation of Zurich, Switzerland. Later Adzhubei disclosed that the Pope had given him “a sealed envelope” to deliver to Khrushchev. Khrushchev’s daughter, who like her husband claims to be an atheist, said the pontiff had given her a gift for the Soviet leader. She declared:
“I looked closely at his hands when he gave us several symbolic gifts for me, for Alexei and for my father. He said simply: ‘This is for your father!’ ”
One report said the Pope indicated the informality of the visit by stepping from behind his desk to chat with the couple.
It is estimated that the total Catholic population in Russia is about 10,000,000, mostly Eastern Rite believers living in the Western Ukraine, and Latin Catholics in Lithuania and Latvia.
Catholic informants are generally agreed that obviously Russia’s desire for an understanding with the Vatican has political motivations, especially in relation to Catholic populations both in Communist-aligned countries and others where the Communist party has sizable support. They say an early agreement would have a strong propaganda effect in Italy, where elections are taking place soon.
At the same time, the informants insist that a Moscow-Vatican agreement also has spiritual potentialities.
In 1847, when a concordat was signed between Rome and the former Russian Empire, there were about 11,500,000 Catholics in Russia. Some 7,000,000 belonged to that part of Poland absorbed into the empire. The concordat remained in effect until 1863, when the Poles rose in revolt against Emperor Nicholas I and Russia severed all diplomatic relations with the Vatican.
G. Bromley Oxnam
Retired Methodist Bishop G. Bromley Oxnam, 71, a leading liberal churchman of the twentieth century, died March 13 in White Plains, New York.
Oxnam had undergone surgery in December. His death was the result of complications arising from the surgery—a rare brain operation employing a freezing technique to relieve symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.
Oxnam was president of the Federal (now National) Council of Churches and was the first U. S. co-president of the World Council of Churches.
He drew wide attention in 1953 when a member of the House Un-American Activities Committee cited Oxnam’s association with a long list of Communist front organizations. The bishop demanded the right to be heard by the committee and was subsequently cleared of all charges of Communist membership or affiliation.
For the third time in four years, illness has interrupted the crusade schedule of evangelist Billy Graham.
In 1959, when Graham suffered an eye ailment, the opening of a major campaign in Melbourne, Australia, was delayed for a week to enable him to recuperate fully.
Another disabling illness struck on the eve of a crusade in Manchester, England, in the spring of 1961. Graham remained bedridden with a throat infection while associate evangelist Leighton Ford preached for the first several days of the crusade.
This month, as he prepared for an extensive evangelistic tour of the Far East, Graham found himself in a hospital in Honolulu.
Doctors diagnosed his affliction as a severe intestinal infection accentuated by overwork.
It was decided that the Far Eastern crusade would go on as originally scheduled, using associate evangelists.
Graham had arrived in Honolulu February 13 to recuperate from an attack of bronchitis and pneumonia. Taken ill once more, he entered St. Francis Hospital for five days of tests.
High over Manhattan this month, an ecumenical breeze parted the paper curtain which divides the U. S. religious press. Representing a comprehensive assortment of theological, denominational, and social views, 33 editors met to compare notes on their role(s) in a pluralistic society. In the well-appointed 31st-floor penthouse of the St. Moritz, overlooking Central Park, discussions roamed far and wide and agreements were sparse. But every participant went home with new insights. And as one young priest-editor quipped, “It’s always harder to insult a person once you’ve met him.”
The inter-faith editorial meeting, financed entirely by the National Conference of Christians and Jews, was said to be a first in American religious history. Notwithstanding journalism educator Roland E. Wolseley’s jocular crack that of the thirteen Protestant periodicals represented nine were “modernist or left-wing,” the overall scope of the conclave was indeed diverse. Protestant representation did embrace evangelically oriented publications such as Christian Herald and CHRISTIANITY TODAY along with the liberal Christian Century, Christianity and Crisis and several denominational periodicals, including the Seventh-day Adventist These Times. The Brooklyn Tablet and Commonweal represented the far right and far left, respectively, for the Catholic press. Jewish editors from Orthodox, Conservative, Reconstructionist. and Reform ranks also were on hand.
Missionary swindlers are mulcting evangelical churches of thousands of dollars a year.
Dr. Clyde W. Taylor says a recent round the world trip disclosed that some mission stations which U. S. churches thought they were supporting “simply do not exist.”
Taylor, executive secretary of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association, issues a warning in the March number of United Evangelical Action, published by the National Association of Evangelicals.
He urged that evangelical churches check carefully the credentials of all independent mission agencies that do not have direct affiliation with a recognized denomination or interchurch organizations such as EFMA or Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association.
Most solemn warning came from NCCJ President Lewis Webster Jones:
“Our society depends on a very delicate balance. The frustrations of contemporary pressures are so great that we face a dangerous situation.”
Jones called for “a viable public philosophy which would restrain all of us.”
By design, the three-day program included general debate on current social issues, mostly on aid to education and related matters. Some participants expressed disappointment that the debate did not focus more on the role of the religious press in reflecting these issues responsibly. The editors did manage some extensive discussion on one solid journalistic issue: Do publications speak to their constituents and sponsors, or for them? Every editor defended the degree of his independency, so much so that the tone of the discussion became somewhat unrealistic. A Catholic editor appropriately emphasized, however, that the teaching authority of bishops was involved.
Among journalistic ideas promoted at the meeting were suggestions for formation of a religious press association, for publication of a religious periodical index, and for more editorial seminars.
The meeting was the second in a broad series conducted by the 35-year-old NCCJ, which has taken a new lease on life with the current ecumenical spirit and a $325,000 Ford Foundation grant. The meetings are part of a long-range NCCJ project, “Religious Freedom and Public Affairs,” spearheaded by the brawny Rabbi Arthur Gilbert, who is aptly equipped for the role with an affable spirit and diplomatic candidness.
An increasing number of evangelical leaders are recognizing the potential of expounding their biblical views in ecumenical dialogues. They are realizing that in this context their witness will strike into minds and hearts otherwise unreachable.
The state of Rhode Island enacted legislation last month providing for textbook aid to private and parochial school children.
Spokesmen for the American Civil Liberties Union and for Protestants and Other Americans United for Separation of Church and State indicated they may support a court test of the constitutionality of the new law.
Governor John H. Chafee signed the Democratic-sponsored bill, which passed the House, 67–8. It had earlier passed the Senate on a voice vote with no audible dissent and no debate.
Out Of Controversy, Affirmation Of Faith
Against a backdrop of denominational controversy and unrest, a special committee of the Southern Baptist Convention released a 4,500-word “Statement of Baptist Faith and Message,” which was offered with the hope that it would serve as a rallying point for harmonizing differences within the convention.
To be presented for approval to the denomination at its annual sessions in Kansas City, Missouri, May 7–10, the document is a development from a controversy which has rippled through the entire convention since 1961 when its Sunday School Board published a book, The Message of Genesis, by Professor Ralph Elliott of Midwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. Some conservatives declared the book heretical on the doctrine of biblical inspiration, and it provoked hostile resolutions at last year’s San Francisco convention, which unanimously voted creation of a committee composed of state convention presidents to study the possibility of rewriting or adding to a statement of faith and purpose adopted by the 1925 convention.
Chief concern in 1925 was with naturalistic liberalism. A preamble to the present document says: “The 1925 Statement recommended ‘the New Hampshire Confession of Faith, revised at certain points, and with some additional articles growing out of certain needs.…’ Your present committee has adopted the same pattern. It has sought to build upon the structure of the 1925 Statement, keeping in mind the ‘certain needs’ of our generation.… In no case has it sought to delete from or to add to the basic contents of the 1925 Statement.”
Included was the caution that Baptist statements “have never been regarded as complete, infallible statements of faith, nor as official creeds carrying mandatory authority.” On the other hand, while Baptists “emphasize the soul’s competency before God, freedom in religion, and the priesthood of the believer,” this emphasis “should not be interpreted to mean that there is an absence of certain definite doctrines that Baptists believe, cherish, and with which they have been and are now closely identified.”
The statement itself, intended to “serve as information to the churches, and … as guidelines to the various agencies” of the denomination, contains 17 sections of Baptist convictions on the Scriptures, God, man, grace, salvation, the Church, Baptism and the Lord’s Supper, the Lord’s Day, the kingdom of God, last things, evangelism and missions, education, stewardship, cooperation, the Christian and social order, peace and war, and religious liberty. Hundreds of Bible references are included.
The first section is on the Scriptures, crucial area in the present controversy: “The Holy Bible was written by men divinely inspired and is the record of God’s revelation of Himself to man. It is a perfect treasure of divine instruction. It has God for its author, salvation for its end, and truth, without any mixture of error, for its matter. It reveals the principles by which God judges us; and therefore is, and will remain to the end of the world, the true center of Christian union, and the supreme standard by which all human conduct, creeds, and religious opinions should be tried. The criterion by which the Bible is to be interpreted is Jesus Christ.” Italics indicate statements not included in the 1925 document.
Midwestern Seminary’s dismissal of Professor Elliott served to intensify already existing debate on the question of academic freedom. In the new document’s section on education, the following statement has been added to that of the 1925 declaration: “In Christian education there should be a proper balance between academic freedom and academic responsibility. Freedom in any orderly relationship of human life is always limited and never absolute. The freedom of a teacher in a Christian school, college, or seminary is limited by the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, by the authoritative nature of the Scriptures, and by the distinct purpose for which the school exists.”
In an era of increasing ecumenism, the statement on cooperation remained substantially the same as in 1925. Part of it: “Christian unity in the New Testament sense is spiritual harmony and voluntary cooperation for common ends by various groups of Christ’s people. Cooperation is desirable between the various Christian denominations, when the end to be attained is itself justified, and when such cooperation involves no violation of conscience or compromise of loyalty to Christ and His Word as revealed in the New Testament.”
Following are excerpts from the sections on the social order and on religious liberty:
“Means and methods used for the improvement of society and the establishment of righteousness among men can be truly and permanently helpful only when they are rooted in the regeneration of the individual by the saving grace of God in Christ Jesus.”
“The state has no right to impose taxes for the support of any form of religion. A free church in a free state is the Christian ideal.…”
Chairman of the committee was Dr. Herschel H. Hobbs of Oklahoma City, president of the Southern Baptist Convention.
The entire 13-member faculty of Baylor University’s Drama Department resigned this month, charging “a lack of confidence in us and our work.”
Their protest stemmed from the cancellation last December of Eugene O’Neill’s prize-winning play, Long Day’s Journey Into Night.
Dr. Abner V. McCall, president of Baylor, largest Southern Baptist school, had charged that the play’s profane language “is not in keeping with the university’s ideals.” His views won the support of the state Baptist convention leadership.
Within an hour of the resignations at Baylor, Trinity University, a United Presbyterian School in San Antonio, announced that Paul Baker had been named chairman of its Speech and Drama Department. Baker had been the chairman of the Drama Department at Baylor.
“Long Day’s Journey” had six more nights to run when it was cancelled. At the time, McCall said his objection was not to the “general message of the play, but to the excessively strong profanity used to convey the message.” Earlier, it was reported that the university had received complaints that the play contained “vulgar, profane and blasphemous language.”
In a statement issued after the resignations, McCall said he had sent Baker a letter explaining that it was “the policy of the university that plays containing vulgar, profane or blasphemous language should not be produced by the Drama Department without deletion of the offensive language.”
Baker had been on the Baylor staff for 28 years, and McCall observed that “this was but a reiteration of the policy under which Mr. Baker has been operating for 28 years … often producing plays after deleting objectionable language.”
“We are not in favor of profanity,” a resignation statement said, “and by presenting Long Day’s Journey Into Night we were not endorsing profanity any more than murder is endorsed by the presentation of Hamlet.”
Evangelist Billy Graham and his team will not be able to count on official endorsement from the United Church of Canada if they choose to hold a dominion-wide crusade. The United Church’s Board of Evangelism and Social Service voted last month to withhold official approval.
Dr. James R. Mutchmor, United Church moderator and a staunch supporter of Graham’s evangelistic efforts, stressed that local churches and presbyteries may still be free to participate on an individual basis.
Mutchmor said the denomination is planning a three-year evangelistic effort of its own to be climaxed in connection with Canada’s centenary in 1967. The board, he declared, felt that the denominational effort might “conflict” with the Graham crusade if official support had been pledged.
Wheat And Tares
The 100th Archbishop of Canterbury has done it again.
In October, 1960, when he was merely the 92nd Archbishop of York, he crossed the border to Edinburgh. The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland was about to hold a special session to celebrate the fourth centenary of the Reformation in Scotland. The Queen was present, and representatives came from many churches throughout the world—but not, significantly, from the Church of England. “The bishops, I know not where they are,” murmured one minister; “they are the Kirk Invisible.” Dr. Ramsey’s destination was the Episcopal cathedral; there he preached a sermon lamenting the loss of much sacramental life, the Apostolic Succession, and the Christian Year. “Good and evil, wheat and tares being so mixed,” he mourned, “is it conceivable that 1560 gives us the ground on which to build truth and unity in the future?” It was not regarded as a model of timely utterance, nor was the statement of a local rector who gained some notoriety by publicly proclaiming that the Queen’s presence was “an unhappy blunder.” Presbyterian reaction was sharp.
In June of this year, a great ecumenical Communion service is planned for the island of Iona, to commemorate St. Columba’s landing there in 563. The celebrant is Bishop Lesslie Newbigin of the Church of South India. Representatives from many churches plan to attend, including one sent by Dr. Donald Coggan, Ramsey’s successor at York. Ten days later, the Scottish Episcopal Church (56,000 communicant members) will hold its own service on the island. The preacher: Arthur Michael Ramsey.
Comments a correspondent in Prism this month: “Those of us who, as loyal Anglicans, have worked and prayed for a new spirit of understanding in the Christian Churches can only gape, sad and uncomprehending. Our friends of other denominations may be forgiven if their reactions are more violent.”
J. D. D.
Our Servant The Bishop
The British Labor Party, it is sometimes said, owes more to Methodism than to Marx, and the Church of England is the Tory (Conservative) Party at prayer. While such alignment is not now so obvious, some still determine social status by allegiance to “church” or “chapel.” This is one of the facts illuminated by the mass of newspaper material resulting from the release last month of an Anglican-Methodist merger plan in Great Britain.
The Times of London in a somewhat frigid editorial doubted if “even the infusion of over a million Methodists” would alter a situation which features “empty churches, clergy who accept that they are fighting a losing battle, a society that pays religion lip-service and little else.…” This pessimism (but not the inaccurate statistics) was shared by the Roman Catholic Universe, which characteristically added that “there may well be some who will now reconsider and come to accept, however ruefully, the Holy See’s condemnation of Anglican Orders.”
Generally, however, the British press, religious and secular, gave the plan a good send-off. According to the London Daily Mail, acceptance would exorcise the “snobberies, prejudices and misunderstandings” in the typical English village: “At the centre is the old parish church, dreaming away the ages. Down the road, or in a side street, is the plain Methodist chapel, dating from 1800-and-something.” Professor T. F. Torrance of Edinburgh, writing in the British Weekly, described it as “a document of very far-reaching importance that may well transform the entire ecumenical picture all over the world.” He added: “It will be up to the Methodists in the intervening period to show the Anglicans, and the world, what an unpretentious bishop in the form of a servant really means”—an intriguing remark which landed the professor in some controversy. On the theological issues of the proposal the evangelical English Churchman objected that the proposal seems to advance the doctrines of baptismal regeneration and eucharistic sacrifice, and concluded: “All of us want to take ‘a step forward in Church relations.’ But is this the right step?”
At a press conference in London questions were dealt with genially but sometimes evasively by Dr. H. J. Carpenter (Bishop of Oxford) and Dr. Harold Roberts, joint chairmen of the committee which drew up the merger document. To a question about why there was a Methodist, but no Anglican, dissentient view, Carpenter neatly countered that perhaps the Church of England was more united than many think. Asked about how this union would affect Methodist relations with other non-episcopal churches, Roberts first promised that these would be safeguarded, but then pointed out that such inter-communion could “never be an end in itself,” and should be the consummation of a unity extending over the whole of church life.
Official wariness was most noticeable when Carpenter and Roberts failed to face squarely questions around the “establishment” issue (i.e., whether the new Anglican-Methodist denomination would be the state church), and one about how Anglicans could accept this report unanimously and yet reject a merger plan for Ceylon—the proposed United Church of Lanka. Both proposals include a mutual having on of hands in a service of reconciliation.
A certain touchiness was also evident in the Church Times. Denying that disestablishment is involved in the report, it admits the necessity for “a drastic alteration in the relations of Church and State.”
When all the wild geese have been chased and the red herrings cleared away, it is clear that the battle will be fought not merely around three or four major issues raised by the four dissentient signatories, but also around the subtle and complex domestic problem of the Church of England as at present “established.” The next chapter will be written by neither church, but by the British Parliament, which is shortly scheduled to take up routine discussion of suggested ecclesiastical amendments needing civil sanction.
A Church In Crisis
A wave of resentment swept across Greece following reinstatement of former Archbishop Iakovos of Athens and All Greece in his diocese of Attica and Megaris. This was the post he had held at the time of his election to the primatial see of Athens in January, 1962. He resigned after facing charges for “unmentionable actions.” Last March, a special ecclesiastical court cleared him of the charges, and the Holy Synod said he could return to his former diocese. The Holy Synod’s ruling, however, still needed ratification from all bishops.
A special meeting of the hierarchy was called early this year to consider clergy salaries and the nomination of a home mission director. After 12 days in session, the bishops reported that they had not acted on either matter. The only thing they had done was to reinstate Iakovos as bishop of his former diocese under the title of the “President of Attica and Megaris and former Archbishop of Athens.”
In the resulting turmoil the state expressed its dismay in no uncertain terms and suggested study of the case by a legislative committee preparing a new constitutional charter for the Greek church.
A number of leading Greek newspapers criticized the church in front-page articles. A leading member of the hierarchy, Metropolitan Germanos of Mantinea, suggested that Iakovos enter a monastery to avoid further distress in the church. Sympathy of the Greek populace was undeniably on the side of the state.
Another factor in increasing church-state tensions is the hierarchy’s attempt to ease restrictions on transferability of bishops. Early ecumenical councils have been interpreted as stipulating the marriage of bishops to their respective dioceses (a bishop’s desire to leave a diocese, therefore, has been considered adultery).
According to the present constitutional charter of the church, transfer of dioceses is prohibited except among the dioceses of Athens, Piraeus, and Thessaloniki. The hierarchy has asked the Greek Minister for Cults to modify the charter to allow transfer. Meanwhile, the church delays appointment of new bishops to nine dioceses where deaths have created vacancies. The state has refused to make any changes in the charter until the new charter plan is unveiled by the special legislative committee.
Angered at the persistence of four newspapers in Kalamata which continue to publish the Rev. Spiros Zodhiates’ weekly Gospel messages as paid advertisements, Greek Orthodox Bishop Eustathios asked the district attorney to launch a suit. The charge: conspiracy to proselyte the Greek Orthodox population of his diocese to Protestantism, a criminal act under present state church laws.
After months of investigation, the district attorney asked the bishop to produce evidence from Zodhiates’ messages that he was attacking the state church and endeavoring to proselyte. No such evidence was forthcoming, and charges were dismissed.
Zodhiates, general secretary of the American Mission to Greeks, has been publishing his Gospel advertisements for four years. They appear in nearly every newspaper and magazine in Greece. Advised of the dismissal of charges, Zodhiates observed:
“This is to the honor of Greek justice and the Greek Orthodox Church. I was tried once before in Thessaloniki, once in Crete and once in Halkis, and was exonerated in all three cases. Even if the case were to be heard in court, justice and freedom would have triumphed once more and I would have been given a renewed opportunity to preach in court and witness to the saving grace of Christ. My effort is not to change the religion of any people but to bring them to realization of their need of a Saviour.”
Thus far, 1963 has been the crisis year for Christian elements in Israel. It all began when a band of Yeshiva (Jewish Talmudic school) students attacked missionary institutions along Jerusalem’s Street of the Prophets. While denouncing violence, numerous apologists for Jewish religious domination in Israel argued that some Protestant groups had brought it on themselves by engaging in unscrupulous missionary activities. There was talk of a possible anti-missionary law.
Dr. Zerah Wahrhaftig, Minister of Religious Affairs, was quoted as favoring anti-missionary activity on a voluntary basis—without violence. Several hundred rabbis and Orthodox lay leaders attended a “Council to Combat Missions” in Tel Aviv. Wahrhaftig told the group that he was disturbed by proselytizing activities of missionaries. He called on Jews to overcome a public indifference toward “danger” inherent in some Christian-supported activities involving youth. He emphasized, however, that there was not much prospect that the government would outlaw missionary activities. The government, he said, was vitally interested in retaining the sympathy of the Christian world.
Last month, another incident brought on more tension. Bishop Pier Chiappero, O. F. M., Latin Rite Patriarchal Vicar in Israel, sharply criticized what he charged were police efforts to cover up an assault on a Franciscan priest in Acre. Father Gaetano Pieri, 45, was wounded in what the police described as “a quarrel between neighbors.” His alleged assailant was Yitzhak Elmaleh, who recently purchased a store adjoining the Franciscan monastery in the Old City area of Acre.
Subsequently, a nun was attacked in Jerusalem by young hoodlums while she was chaperoning a group of children. She was rescued by a Jewish shopkeeper, who, when he attempted to pursue the attackers, was reportedly blocked by other persons on the scene.
One priest said lie is often jeered when he passes through the Orthodox Jewish quarter. He said he frequently hears cries such as “Jesus is dead.”
In New York, meanwhile, the Rev. William L. Hull hailed an Israeli Supreme Court ruling requiring registration of a mixed marriage of an Israeli Jew and a Belgian Christian woman.
“It is the first break in the solid wall the Orthodox have built up in the Knesset,” said Hull, veteran Canadian missionary to Israel who tried to convert war criminal Adolf Eichmann before his execution.
Hull is retiring after 28 years in Jerusalem. He and his wife indicated that mounting Orthodox-sponsored pressure against proselytizing activities was one factor in their decision to leave Israel. Prior to going to Israel in the thirties, Hull was a buyer for the Eaton department store in Winnipeg. He left to become an independent missionary supported by individual contributions from evangelical friends.
Viet Cong Victims
Viet Cong guerillas opened fire on a group of missionaries at a roadblock 66 miles northeast of Saigon this month. Four persons were shot to death. Another was seriously wounded.
Two families who served with Wycliffe Bible Translators were traveling along the Saigon-Dalat highway in South Viet Nam when they came upon the roadblock and were ordered to climb out of their Land Rover. The two fathers, Elwood Jacobsen of the Malmo Evangelical Free Church of Isle, Minnesota, and Gaspar Makil, a Filipino married to the former Josephine Yvonne Johnson of La Junta, Colorado, were killed on the spot. One of the Makils’ four-month-old twins died the following day. A three-year-old son was seriously wounded.
Wycliffe spokesmen said the victims were shot down “without apparent reason or provocation.” They said they regarded the highway as one of the safer highways in the country.
Mrs. Makil had been in Saigon for medical treatment and was returning with her family to an outpost at Dran.
From Dalat, Viet Nam, meanwhile, came reports that three American missionaries taken captive by the Viet Cong last May 30 were seen alive. The leader of a Viet Cong group which raided the Christian and Missionary Alliance leprosarium at Banmethuot is said to have been captured and interrogated about the safety of the three missionaries. One of the three is Dr. Eleanor Vietti, a surgeon who served as administrator of the leprosarium. The others are the Rev. Archie E. Mitchell, a veteran Affiance missionary, and Dan Gerber, a Mennonite medical assistant.
Early this year, in neighboring Laos, three pioneer Japanese missionaries were taken captive by Pathet Lao forces while on an evangelistic tour in the province of Champassac. Yutaka Baba, Fumio Ito, and Akira Nagahra had established a home base at Muong Kao, on the right bank of the Mekong River, and were on a four-day trip to nearby villages. When they failed to return, a Japanese colleague set out to find them and learned that they had been taken into custody by the Pathet Lao. Baba, his wife, and their one child make up the only family in the group of Japanese working as independent missionaries in south Laos. In addition, there are three single women and six single men, representing a loosely associated group of evangelical churches in Japan.
Laos is currently in a transition period. Overt hostilities ceased with the adoption of an agreement worked out in Geneva last year. General elections have been promised.
The present situation, however, is not the most conducive to missionary activity. Missionaries find it difficult to travel about. On the other hand, relocated native refugees have been concentrated in several large centers, and opportunities for Christian witness have been enhanced.
Working Against Time
Lutheran missionaries in New Guinea, realizing that their days may be numbered, are trying to set up a united indigenous church. Representatives of the Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod and a sister church in Australia appealed to the Lutheran Mission New Guinea, reputed to be the largest Protestant mission in the world, for joint negotiations.
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