Mainly Political, Not Religious, Resentment
Absurd Exaggerations In Anti Catholic Circles
The Yugoslavian troubles over the ratification of the Concordat are still being exploited in an anti-Catholic sense. The affair has even been dragged into correspondence in The Times in reply to the Archbishop of Westminster's appeal there fot a " united Christian Front against the world-wide anti-Christian onslaught."
Our Central European Correspondent explains below the degree of purely political and racial passion that has been roused by what appears to be a religious issue.
In a previous communication he has shown that the Concordat is a fair corn promise which would have been ac cepted by all on its merits alone. Its aim from the Yugoslavian point of view was to unify the Kingdom by making the overwhelmingly Catholic Croats and Slovenes feel at least spiritually at home in their new fatherland.
The Concordat in its present shape was as much due to the late King Alexander, " The Unifier," as to the Vatican.
It is generally known that the Concordat was arranged because Catholicism is a growing Church in Yugoslavia while Orthodoxy is stagnant.
Belgrade, in so far as it is religious at all, will he a Catholic city.
SERBIAN AND CROAT FLAGS
From Our Central European Correspondent
The Concordat with the Vatican, despite a raging campaign, has been ratified by 166 votes to 128. Various members of the Government majority voted against it. The death of the Orthodox Patriarch, Mgr. Varnava, although expected, has created a great sensation and the atmosphere in Belgrade and in old Serbia remains tense:
The final vote in the Skuptchina was dramatic. Many sick deputies, both Government and. Opposition supporters, were carried in. Heated exchanges took place and the Opposition tried to make capital out of the position, although M. Jevtitch, the Opposition leader, actually started the negotiations for the present Concordat.
Orthodox Curious Allies A number of curious allies have supported the Orthodox Church in its campaign against the Concordat.
General Zivkovitch, a former Prime Minister and now a Fascist leader, with the illegal Communists and Nazis, and the Democrats and Peasants all joined forces and distributed propaganda and leaflets.
Dr. Sloyadinovitch, the Premier, has said that, as a gesture to the Orthodox Church, he will not force the Concordat through the Senate for some time. There is also a grave fear that he might not find a majority at all in the Senate and the Concordat may yet have to remain a dead letter. The fall of the Government, too, as a result, is not impossible.
The Premier, as well as all Ministers and deputies who voted for the Concordat, has been excommunicated by the Holy Synod, so that they were unable to attend the Patriarch's funeral and may not participate in the election of the new Patriarch.
Yugoslav Flag Much of this anti-Concordat agitation is purely political. The use nowadays of the old Serbian and Croat flags is forbidden. The Yugoslav flag only may be flown, the one exception being in Orthodox processions, which use the old Serbian colours as a Church flag. Recently, despite the ban, the Croats
have become increasingly bold about the use of the Croat flag. At a celebration a short while ago of the birthday of Dr. Matchek, the Croat leader, he drove through Zagreb in a triumphal procession, while thousands of these illegal flags fluttered on all sides.
The Serbs naturally resent this. The anti-Concordat agitation is largely an expression of such political resentment. Add to this the ante-Italian feeling consequent upon the recent agreement with Italy, and it is easy to understand the artificiality of the agitation.
Childish Anti-Catholic Propaganda A sample of the childish anti-Catholic propaganda now current in Belgrade is the following.
Fr. Koroshec, Minister of the Interior, is a Catholic and the Slovene leader in the Skuptchina. As he controls the gendarmes. he is said to have drafted in all his native Slovenes from Ljubljana, as the Belgrade gendarmes refused to act against the Orthodox procession organised to demonstrate against the Concordat!
The regrettable incidents when the procession was broken up were also grossly exaggerated and this is all typical of this unreasonable anti-Catholic outburst of political spite.
The late Mgr. Varnava, Patriarch of the Serbian Orthodox Church, in his early years constantly took part in uprisings against the Turks, and to the end of his life was a keen Serbian Nationalist. A brilliant scholar, he was educated at St. Petersburg and in 1905 became a monk. In 1914 he became Bishop of Veles on the Bulgarian border, whence he had to retreat with the Serbian army during the Great War. In 1920 he was elected Patriarch in succession to Mgr. Dimitri. A prelate of great energy. he was one of the most striking personalities in Yugoslav national life. His close connection with and deep devotion to Tsarist Russia made him take a keen interest in welfare work among the numerous Russian refugees in Yugoslavia and he was a particularly bitter opponent of Bolshevism, which he had known firsthand during the Russian revolution.