File No. 13996/1.
Minister Moses to the Secretary of State.
Athens, January 27, 1910.
Sir: I have the honor to report that Mr. Horton, consul general at Athens, has called to my attention the case of Mrs. ———, of ———, a native American, married to a Greek, who now, as she writes to Mr. Horton, has deserted her and returned to his native country, where, as she suspects, he purposes to take another wife.
Both Mr. Horton’s inquiries and my own have been fruitless to locate the man; and even had we been successful in this no substantial relief could have been found for Mrs. ———. The Greek Church is established by the constitution, and it and the Greek Nation are practically coeval. Marriage is, therefore, by Greek law, a sacrament and not a civil contract, and has no validity unless the ceremony is performed by an orthodox priest. Accordingly, a Greek who marries in a foreign jurisdiction is at perfect freedom to regard his marriage bonds annulled upon returning to Greek jurisdiction; and Mr. Horton tells me that several cases of this character have occurred during his residence here.
There seems to be no remedy. The British minister here tells me that his countrywomen have encountered this difficulty, and that he found himself powerless to help them. He added that a similar condition formerly existed in respect of Anglo-French marriages contracted in Great Britain, and that a special convention was necessary to remedy it. Such recourse can not be had here by reason of the peculiar ecclesiastical situation, but I have the honor to suggest that the publication in America by the department of the conditions outlined above might serve as some measure of protection to American women who contemplate matrimony with Greek subjects.
I have, etc.,