Patr. Meletios Metaxakis and English Diplomacy

Public and private government correspondence during the time of the patriarch.


Below is a small section from a much larger book that catalogues public and private exchanges of British officials pertaining to the Orthodox Church, Patriarch Meletius Metaxakis, the Anglican communion, and the Turkish government. This excerpt is provided primarily with the aim to inspire interest of others as to better understand the events and people involved during this very recent time within Orthodox history. The complete PDF scan of the book may be downloaded from the following link.

[Patr. Meletios Metaxakis and English Diplomacy]

Lambeth Palace - 20th October 1925

Dear Mr. (John) Murray,

I have read with the greatest interest the copy which you have kindly sent me of the despatch from Mr. Henderson, Acting Commissioner in Egypt. I share the view which Mr. Henderson evidently takes as to the importance attaching to the appointment of a successor to the late Patriarch Photios with whom I had much intercourse while he was in England. He was accompanied by the Metropolitan of Nubia, who is, as I understand, the same man as is described in your letter as Bishop Nicolas, Greek Bishop of Khartoum. If this be so, I certainly, from such information as I have, should rejoice if he were nominated to the Patriarchate. While the Patriarchs of Alexandria and Jerusalem were in England a few months ago the Metropolitan of Nubia acted frequently as interp1eter, and I was greatly struck by his ability, his geniality, his knowledge of Church affairs, and his obvious friendship with England and the English Church. If therefore it is appropriate to use any influence in the matter I should share Bishop Gwynne's desire that it should be used in favour of Bishop Nicolas.

I am acquainted with Archbishop Meletios, who is undoubtedly a man of strength, ability, and, I believe, of a friendly disposition towards England, but I imagine that the criticism respecting him which is contained in Mr. Henderson's despatch is undoubtedly true, and of course he has had a somewhat adventurous career. I think he has been engaged in controversy in Jerusalem, in Cyprus, in Athens, in Constantinople, and again in Athens, and I certainly should myself feel happier in the knowledge that Bishop Nicolas were to succeed to the Patriarchate, though I have no reason to entertain other than friendly recollections of Meletios during his visits to England. He lived for some time in America and speaks English fluently. My thought had been that it was not unlikely that Meletios would succeed to the Patriarchate of Jerusalem if it becomes vacant, the present Patriarch being a very aged man. It would, however, have to be remembered that Archbishop Meletios is as Mr. Henderson has said, a very strong Greek Nationalist, and it would be, a matter of importance to consider what his relation would be to the Arab clergy in Palestine and Syria. If I were asked whether I should prefer to see him Patriarch of Alexandria or of Jerusalem I should be in considerable doubt.

I am yours very truly,
Randall Thomas Davidson (Archbishop of Canterbury)

Cypher telegram to Sir G. Lloyd in Cairo. Foreign Office. 23rd October, 1925, 6.30 p.m.

Archbishop of Canterbury would welcome appointment of the Metropolitan of Nubia. You should accordingly use your discretion as to the means beat (sic?) calculated to promote the election of this candidate. Despatch follows.

Foreign Office, 24th October, 1925.

Sir (G. Loyd),

In continuation of my telegram No. 251 of the 23rd instant I transmit to you herewith a copy of a letter in which the Archbishop of Canterbury expresses the opinion that the Metropolitan of Nubia would be a suitable successor to the late Patriarch Photios of Alexandria. I leave it to your discretion to determine what steps if any you may be able to take in order to promote the election of this candidate.

Foreign Office, 26th October, 1925.

My Lord Archbishop (Randall Thomas Davidson),

I am grateful for your letter of the 20th instant in which you were so good as to furnish me with your views on the appointment of a successor to the late Patriarch Photios of Alexandria.

We have now instructed Sir George Lloyd by telegraph to take whatever steps he may think appropriate to support the candidature of the Metropolitan of Nubia.

Yours very truly,
John Murray