Mr. Schuyler to Mr. Fish.
St. Petersburg, April 15, 1875. (Received May 6.)
Sir: Referring to my dispatch No. 77, of 30th January, on the subject of the conversion of the united Greeks to the orthodox church, I have the honor to inform you that the “reunion” of nearly the whole of this body has been accomplished.
Reports having been received from all the deans of the province of Lublin respecting the desire of their flocks to enter into the orthodox church, the clergy of the diocesan chapter of chelm, and the members of the ecclesiastical seminary of the diocese, met on the 2d of March, and, after considering the actual state of affairs, unanimously decided to ask for the authorization of the Emperor for reunion with the orthodox church.
General Kotzebue, the governor-general of Warsaw, then made an inquiry which convinced him that all the parishes of the province of Lublin were perfectly agreed with their clergy in this matter.
On the report of the minister of the interior, the Emperor therefore received, on the 6th April, at the winter palace, a deputation, of the clergy of Chelm and of the parishes of the province of Lublin, as well as of several districts of the province of Siedlce. The deputation was headed by the arch-priest Popiel, the administrator of the diocese, to whose efforts these conversions are very generally due. His Majesty received the petition of the clergy and the protocol of the council of Chelm, and in a few words expressed to the deputation his great satisfaction at this expression of their wishes.
The Uniates in the province of Lublin, who were thus received into the orthodox church, number about 111,000. The number of conversions in the province of Siedlce has also reached 100,000—forty-two parishes and thirty priests of that province being received into the church on the same day (6th April) in the parish church of Yanoff, where the archbishop of Warsaw celebrated divine service.
In so far as unity of religion may tend to community of interests and to the welfare of the state, the government must profit by these conversions. The defection of such a large number of persons, however brought about, is a severe blow to Catholicism in Poland, which has always been suspected by the government of intrigues and plots against its authority.
I have, &c.,