The Iron and Bamboo Curtains are keeping 111 Catholic Bishops from attending the Second Vatican Council, according to the most complete survey that can be made in Rome.
This total may not be complete, due to the difficulty of checking all pertinent sources.
With the arrival of four more bishops from Poland, 27 of that country’s prelates are now here, out of a total of 70. Travel permits had been applied for by 64, which indicates that the Polish government refused to allow 37 to come to Rome.
As at the first session of the council, all 28 of the bishops from Yugoslavia were able to come this time. The same is true of the Soviet Zone of Germany, with its seven bishops. The only East German bishop absent is Auxiliary Bishop Josef Freusberg of Fulda. He remained at his home in Erfurt because of his advanced age.
Since all the Catholic bishoprics in the Soviet Union are vacant, the Catholics of that nation are not represented in the council. Nineteen exiled Ukrainian Rite prelates come from the United States, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany, Italy and Yugoslavia. Also here is Archbishop Josyf Slipyi of Lvov, who was released from a Soviet prison earlier this year.
The exiled White Russian Bishop Boleslao Sloskans, now residing in Belgium, is present.
Absent again are the three bishops of Bulgaria and the four of Rumania. Of the three Baltic states absorbed by the USSR, which have a total of eight Catholic bishops, only the exiled Lithuanian Auxiliary Bishop Vincentas Brizgys, of Kaunas, now living in Chicago, and the exiled Latvian Bishops Antonijis Urbss of Liepaja, now residing in Spain, and Jazeps Rancans, Auxiliary of Riga, now living in Grand Rapids, Mich., are able to be here.
The contingent from the Czechoslovakian hierarchy increased from three to four in the second session, out of a total of 15. Conspicuously absent are Archbishop Josef Beran of Prague and four other bishops recently released from government confinement but, to all indications, not yet fully free.
Also still absent are Jozsef Cardinal Mindszenty of Esztergom and other prelates from Hungary. Only five of that country’s bishops obtained exit permits to come to Rome. The three bishops of Albania were refused such permits by their Red rulers.
Regarding the Far East, as during the previous council session, none of the 10 bishops of North Vietnam were allowed to leave the country. The same applies to the Chinese hierarchy, at least 17 of whom are jailed and all others exiled.
Father Placid Jordan, OSB
NCWC News Rome correspondent