File No. 16840/2.
The Greek Minister to the Secretary of State.
Washington, December 19, 1908.
Mr. Secretary of State: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your note transmitting to me a report presented to the Bureau of Immigration in regard to some immigrants unduly admitted into the United States as priests of the Orthodox Greek Church.
According to the author of the report, some of these immigrants are but simple monks or priests who are not sent here to take charge of any parish. According to him, mixed marriages performed by such clergymen would run the risk of not being recognized by our law, thus depriving the woman and the children or all their rights and of any share of inheritance which they might claim in Greece.
It is true that our law requires that mixed marriages in which a Greek belonging to the Orthodox Church is a contracting party be performed according to the rites of this church in order to render them valid. However, the author of the report is mistaken in stating that a marriage performed by a priest outside of his parish or by a priest without a parish has no legal force in Greece. Every marriage performed by a regular priest who has not been forbidden the right to say mass is valid. The only thing, then, would be to certify the capacity of clergymen of the Greek Orthodox Church who have come to America.
You kindly inform me of the desire expressed by the Secretary of Commerce and Labor to have my opinion on this question, which is no less important to Greece than to the United States. I am very happy to reply that an agreement has recently been reached between the holy synod of Greece and the patriarchate of Constantinople, according to which all priests emigrating to North America and belonging to the dioceses of the patriarchates of Constantinople, Jerusalem, and Alexandria, have been placed under the jurisdiction of our holy synod. I think, therefore, that it is possible to have the sacerdotal capacity of orthodox clergymen coming to America certified to by the authorities of the Kingdom of Greece. You will permit me to inform you later on in what manner this certification may be done most easily.
Unfortunately this measure would not cover clergymen of the patriarchate of Antioch, which did not participate in the agreement of the other patriarchates.
I avail, etc.,