29 SEPTEMBER 1967, Page 30

Table talk


From Ronald Hingley, Sir Denis Brogan, Alan H. Richardson, Sir Brandon Rhys Williams, Barry Rose, Dr Michael Watts, R. A. Cline, R. C. Hall, John Stone, Ned Sherrin.

Sir: Mr Graham Greene is incorrect in claiming (Letters, 22 September) that Russia never had a large Roman Catholic population. In fact, the Roman Catholic inhabitants of Imperial Russia were numbered in millions at the beginning of the twentieth century. Many of them were admittedly Poles and Lithuanians. But even if we confine our- selves to territory more strictly Russian in the ethnic sense, Mr Greene is still wrong in suggest- ing that he would have been unable to share with- out difficulty in the sacramental life of his church in pre-revolutionary Russia. On the eve of the First World War there was hardly a large town in European Russia without its Catholic church or chapel, and Mr Greene's much-publicised spiritual needs could also have been catered for as far afield as Tashkent, Tomsk, Tobolsk, Irkutsk and Vladi- vostok. See Walter Kolarz, Religion in the Soviet Union, p. 180.