Ratification of the Yugoslav Concordat with the Vatican is being fought against tooth and nail by the Orthodox Church which mistakenly regards the proposed treaty as a means of granting unfair privileges to the Catholics in Yugoslavia, who form a minority of forty per cent, of the population.
As pointed out by Our Central European Correspondent last week none of the concessions to Catholics in. the Concordat are closed to members of the Orthodox Church. It is believed that. Orthodox opposition to the Concordat is being egged on by political elements that profess interest in neither Church.
From Our Central. European Correspondent
A grave situation has developed in Yugoslavia as a result of the campaign against
the Concordat. A procession of priests and laity was broken up by the police in Belgrade, many were injured, gm Skuptchina (Parliament) session had to be suspended, and a general state of tension now prevails.
Far from abating the campaign against the Concordat, as had been hoped in some quarters, the Orthodox authorities have
intensified it of late. The Serbian Holy Synod (the governing body of the Serbian Orthodox Church) has been sitting simultaneously with the Skuptchina, the latter debating the ratification of the Concordat and the former having decided to excommunicate all Orthodox supporters of the Concordat in the Skuptchina and to try any priest-deputies who supported it, in an ecclesiastical court.
Meanwhile the Orthodox Patriarch Varnava is dangerously ill and a service of intercession in the Orthodox Cathedral was to have been followed by a procession, but this was banned by the Government, which feared—and justifiably so—an anti-Government and anti-Concordat demonstration.
Procession Ends in Disorder
Despite the ban, however, the procession did form, mainly as the result of exhortations to that end at the service. in an attempt to stop it several police and a number of people were injured. including the Bishop of Sabatz, who was knocked unconscious.
The situation arising is extremely delicate as the police are under the control of the Home Secretary. Fr. Koroshetz, the Slovene leader, a Catholic priest. This unfortunate fact is bound to embitter the situation and popular feeling ran high after this incident.
Ratification May be Abandoned Meanwhile the Government is reacting vigorously. Two priests belonging to the Government party who voted against the Concordat on the Committee stage have been expelled from the party and the Government has made it plain that this interference in politics by the Orthodox Church will not be tolerated. The latter has replied to this by having all the Belgrade Orthodox church bells tolled and even threatens to close the churches if the ratification is approved, besides hanging black flags for two weeks, as a protest, on the churches.
It is possible that the ratification may have to be abandoned if the storm is too great, though there is no doubt that the situation is being exploited by elements other than the Orthodox Church.