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Cablegate: Eastern Churches Under Stress Where Church/State Separation Is Weak

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 02 VATICAN 003692

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EUR/WE (MENUTTI); DRL/IRF (FARR)

E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2012
TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KIRF RS IN IS UP PGOV PHUM KIRF RS IN IS UP VT VTPREL

SUBJECT: EASTERN CHURCHES UNDER STRESS WHERE CHURCH/STATE SEPARATION IS WEAK
CLASSIFIED BY: A/DCM GEORGE FROWICK FOR REASONS 1.5 (B) AND (D).

1. (C) SUMMARY: SECRETARY OF THE CONGREGATION FOR EASTERN CHURCHES, ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO VEGLIO, TOLD CHARGE THAT THE EASTERN CHURCHES -- THE 22 CHRISTIAN RITES THAT ARE NOT ROMAN CATHOLIC BUT ARE IN COMMUNION WITH ROME -- FACE A NUMBER OF CHALLENGES THAT CAST LONG SHADOWS OVER THEIR FUTURE. BOTH CONFIDENTIAL
PAGE 02 VATICA 03692 01 OF 02 261100Z RADICAL ISLAM AND RUSSIAN ORTHODOXY PRESENT OBSTACLES TO THE VITALITY AND SURVIVAL OF THE DISPARATE EASTERN RITE CATHOLIC COMMUNITIES IN EURASIA, THE MIDDLE EAST, AFRICA, AND SOUTH ASIA, BUT, BUT IN BOTH CASES, ACCORDING TO VEGLIO, THE LACK OF SEPARATION BETWEEN FAITH AND STATE IS THE CHIEF HURDLE. WHILE CHRISTIANS ARE LEAVING THE MIDDLE EAST IN GREAT NUMBERS, HOLLOWING OUT MILLENNIA-OLD CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES, THE GREEK CATHOLIC CHURCH IN UKRAINE AND THE INDIAN EASTERN CATHOLIC CHURCHES CENTERED ON THE STATE OF KERALA ARE THE MOST ""LIVELY"" AND GROWING. END SUMMARY.
2. (C) ARCHBISHOP ANTONIO VEGLIO, SECRETARY OF THE CONGREGATION FOR EASTERN CHURCHES TOLD CHARGE DURING A JULY 24 MEETING THAT THE EASTERN CHURCHES IN RUSSIA AND ARAB COUNTRIES ARE COMING UNDER INCREASING PRESSURE, AND HAVE ""A BIG QUESTION MARK"" OVER THEIR FUTURE. WHERE ""NATIONAL"" FAITHS ARE CLOSE TO OR INDISTINGUISHABLE FROM POLITICAL POWER, VEGLIO OBSERVED, THE CATHOLIC FAITHFUL FACE PERSISTENT DISCRIMINATION AND THE CHURCH FINDS IT DIFFICULT TO CONDUCT ITS PASTORAL DUTIES. VEGLIO SAID THERE ARE 22 CHRISTIAN RITES THAT, WHILE NOT ROMAN CATHOLIC, NEVERTHELESS REMAIN IN COMMUNION WITH ROME (I.E. RECOGNIZE THE ROMAN POPE AS LEADER OF THE FAITHFUL). THESE RITES ARE DIVIDED INTO FOUR PRINCIPAL GEOGRAPHICAL GROUPS IN:
-- THE FORMERLY COMMUNIST EUROPE -- THE MIDDLE EAST -- INDIA, AND -- ETHIOPIA/ERITREA.

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CONFIDENTIAL
PAGE 03 VATICA 03692 01 OF 02 261100Z THE ORTHODOX CHALLENGE
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3. (C) VEGLIO, A FORMER IV GRANTEE RETURNING TO ROME AFTER NEARLY 30 YEARS OF OVERSEAS HOLY SEE DIPLOMATIC WORK, SAID HIS CONGREGATION'S PRIMARY DUTY WAS TO ENSURE THAT THESE CHURCHES ARE ABLE TO CARRY OUT PASTORAL CARE OF THE FAITHFUL WHEREVER THEY ARE (E.G. EVEN AMONG GREEK CATHOLICS IN THE U.S.). REPRISING THE DIFFICULTIES CATHOLICS FACE WITH THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CHURCH, VEGLIO SUGGESTED THAT RUSSIAN ORTHODOX OBJECTIONS TO THE PRESENCE OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH IN RUSSIA DERIVES FROM THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX CLERGY'S ""OLD FASHIONED WORLD VIEW, SIMILAR TO THE VATICAN'S WAY OF THINKING SIXTY YEARS AGO."" HE BELIEVED THAT THE CATHOLIC CHURCH MAY BE MORE APPEALING TO THE AVERAGE RUSSIAN OR UKRAINIAN BECAUSE, DURING THE YEARS OF COMMUNIST REPRESSION, THEY SUFFERED AND RETAINED THEIR ""PURITY"" WHILE THE ORTHODOX CHURCH HAD TOO COZY A RELATIONSHIP WITH THE COMMUNIST POWERS. HE WAS CONFIDENT THAT AS THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX MODERNIZED AND BECAME LESS ISOLATED THEY WOULD FEEL LESS THREATENED AND WOULD DROP THEIR ""IRRATIONAL"" OBJECTIONS TO CATHOLICS IN RUSSIA. IN THE MEANTIME THE VATICAN WOULD CONTINUE TO MINISTER TO THE FAITHFUL AS BEST IT COULD. VEGLIO IMPLIED IT WOULD BE DECADES, NOT YEARS, BEFORE THE RUSSIAN ORTHODOX WOULD COME AROUND TO THIS VIEW.

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THE CHALLENGE FROM ISLAM
------------------------

4. (C) TURNING TO THE MIDDLE EAST, VEGLIO OBSERVED THAT THE CONFIDENTIAL
PAGE 04 VATICA 03692 01 OF 02 261100Z MUSLIM COUNTRIES POSED AN EVEN GREATER CHALLENGE. VEGLIO, WHO RECENTLY RETURNED TO THE HOLY SEE AFTER SERVING AS NUNCIO IN BEIRUT, ASSERTED THAT ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM, CENTERED ON SUDAN, THREATENED THE GOOD RELATIONSHIP THAT HAS HERETOFORE EXISTED BETWEEN CHRISTIANS AND MUSLIMS IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA (REF B). HE WAS PARTICULARLY CONCERNED THAT THE YOUNGER, MORE MODERN, SECULAR AND USUALLY CHRISTIAN PEOPLE IN THE ARAB MIDDLE EAST ARE GIVING UP ON THEIR COUNTRIES AND EMIGRATING. HE SAID THE CHRISTIAN COMMUNITIES HAVE BEEN DECIMATED BY THIS EMIGRATION, WHICH IS SOMETHING ""THE MUSLIMS WANT."" IN A REFRESHINGLY FRANK ADMISSION, VEGLIO SAID THAT, AS NUNCIO, HE HAD PRESSURED BEIRUT TO LEGALIZE CIVIL MARRIAGES (MUCH TO THE CHAGRIN OF HIS BISHOPS). HE ARGUED THAT PEOPLE IN MIDDLE EASTERN STATES SHOULD HAVE THE ""MODERN"" OPTION OF BEING SECULAR, WHICH MAKES FOR A BETTER POLITY THAN DOES THEOCRACY. HE SAID IN MANY ARAB STATES THE CONSTITUTION IS EFFECTIVELY THE KORAN. ""GOVERNMENTS SHOULD NO MORE HAVE THE BIBLE THAN THE KORAN AS THEIR CONSTITUTION"" IF COUNTRIES IN THE REGION WERE TO MOVE TOWARD GENUINE DEMOCRATIC AND TOLERANT GOVERNMENTS, HE ASSERTED.
CONFIDENTIAL
CONFIDENTIAL PTQ3036
PAGE 01 VATICA 03692 02 OF 02 261100Z ACTION EUR-00
INFO LOG-00 NP-00 AF-00 AMAD-00 ACQ-00 CIAE-00 DODE-00 DS-00 FBIE-00 VC-00 TEDE-00 INR-00 VCE-00 AC-01 NEA-00 NSAE-00 ACE-00 SS-00 SA-00 DSCC-00 DRL-02 SAS-00 /003W ------------------D08EDC 261100Z /38 R 261054Z JUL 02 FM AMEMBASSY VATICAN TO SECSTATE WASHDC INFO ARAB ISRAELI COLLECTIVE EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE AMEMBASSY ADDIS ABABA AMEMBASSY NEW DELHI
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 02 OF 02 VATICAN 003692
SIPDIS
DEPT FOR EUR/WE (MENUTTI); DRL/IRF (FARR)
E.O. 12958: DECL: 07/25/2012 TAGS: PREL PGOV PHUM KIRF RS IN IS UP PGOV PHUM KIRF RS IN IS UP VT VTPREL

-------------------------------------
UKRAINE AND INDIA: ISLANDS OF GROWTH
-------------------------------------
5. (C) ONLY IN UKRAINE AND INDIA ARE THE EASTERN RITE CHURCHES VIGOROUS AND GROWING, DESPITE HINDRANCES, VEGLIO CONFIDENTIAL
PAGE 02 VATICA 03692 02 OF 02 261100Z NOTED. THE GREEK RITE CATHOLICS ARE SUCCESSFULLY RECOVERING PROPERTIES CONFISCATED BY STALIN AND GIVEN, IN MANY CASES, TO RUSSIAN ORTHODOX COMMUNITIES. VEGLIO AVERRED THAT THE STRONG PRESENCE OF THIS CHURCH IN UKRAINE BEFORE WORLD WAR II, AND THE STRONG SUPPORT OF ITS FAITHFUL IN THE U.S. AND ELSEWHERE IN THE WEST, HAVE GIVEN IT AN ADVANTAGE. TWO MEASURES OF ITS CONFIDENCE ARE THE INTENT BY ARCHBISHOP MAJOR LUBOMYR TO MOVE HIS SEE FROM LVOV TO KIEV AND THE UKRAINIAN CHURCH'S PRESSURE ON THE HOLY SEE TO RAISE ITS STATUS TO THAT OF A FULL PATRIARCHATE. (NOTE: THIS WOULD PUT IT ON A PAR WITH THE RUSSIAN AND UKRAINIAN PATRIARCHATES OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCH IN KIEV).
6. (C) THE SYRO-MALABAR AND SYRO-MALANKARA CHURCHES ARE REPUTED TO HAVE A 2,000-YEAR PRESENCE IN SOUTHERN INDIA, ORIGINATING, ACCORDING TO VEGLIO, FROM THE VISIT OF SAINT THOMAS THE APOSTLE. THESE CHURCHES ARE THRIVING EVEN AS CHRISTIANS SUFFER PERSECUTION IN HINDU-NATIONALIST PARTS OF INDIA. VEGLIO PLANS A VISIT TO THOSE CHURCHES AND TO THE MIDDLE EAST IN THE NEAR FUTURE.

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COMMENT
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7. (C) IN ADDITION TO ITS PASTORAL WORK, THE CONGREGATION FOR EASTERN CHURCHES IS ACTIVE IN SOCIAL DEVELOPMENT WORK. IT IS FUNDED BY THE HOLY SEE AND BY DONATIONS FROM WEALTHY CHURCHES IN EUROPE AND THE U.S. ON THE SUBJECT OF THE MIDDLE EAST, VEGLIO OBSERVED THAT THE MIXING OF STATE AND RELIGION ALSO CAUSED PROBLEMS IN ISRAEL, WHICH HE NOTED WAS THE ONLY CONFIDENTIAL
PAGE 03 VATICA 03692 02 OF 02 261100Z COUNTRY IN THE REGION WITH ""DEMOCRATIC ASPECTS."" THE CONGREGATION, AS ELSEWHERE IN THE HOLY SEE IS DEEPLY TROUBLED BY ISRAELI POLICIES VIS-A-VIS THE PALESTINIANS. THE CONGREGATION WILL REMAIN ACTIVE IN SEEKING TO SUPPORT THE PALESTINIANS AS A MEANS OF PRESERVING THE REMNANTS OF THE CATHOLIC PRESENCE IN THE REGION.
HARDT
CONFIDENTIAL
>
2002VATICA03692 - Classification: CONFIDENTIAL "

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