Greek Orthodox Opposition to Slavery in 1862


Patriarch Joachim II of Constantinople (image from Wikimedia Commons)

Patriarch Joachim II of Constantinople

At the close of every year, the Greek newspaper Anatolikos Aster (Eastern Star), published in Constantinople for the local Greek Orthodox community, would write an annual retrospective on events around the globe in the year that had just ended. What follows appeared in the edition of December 31, 1862, which the American anti-slavery newspaper called the Liberator picked up in its April 24, 1863 issue:

The United States of America, after many years of union and peace, after gigantic material and moral development, are separated into two hostile camps. The Northern States, guided by true reason and evangelical principles, persistently seek the abolition of the slavery of the blacks. The Southern States, blinded by a badly understood material interest, obstinately and anti-Christianly seek the perpetuation of slavery. This war of ideas and physical interests is prosecuted to desperation. Bloody battles are delivered, but victory until the present is doubtful, and the return of peace does not seem near. But if we cast a careful eye upon the wonderful events of this age, we shall be inclined to believe that those who contend so nobly for the most unquestionable and humane rights, will, God helping them, reach the object of their desires.

While this is not a statement by the Ecumenical Patriarch (Joachim II) or the Holy Synod, appearing as it does in a major Constantinopolitan Greek Orthodox publication, it can be understood as reflecting the views of the local Greek Orthodox community at the time.

Click here to download the original Greek text (the above excerpt is from the first page).

I am grateful to Dr. Dimitrios Varvaritis, who sent me the Greek text in 2015, and to my good friend Mark Arey, who helped verify the accuracy of the above translation.

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