Another source of Catholic pressure on the Orthodox took the form of the foundation by Pope Gregory XIII in 1581 of the Greek College of St Athanasius in Rome. The official purpose of the Greek College was to train young men from the Orthodox East as clergymen and teachers, who would then return to minister in their places of origin. Integral to their training was their conversion to Catholicism and their transformation into agents of eventual union of the eastern churches with Rome. To facilitate the process, the Greek College and its alumni became closely connected with the development ofUniate churches in the Orthodox regions of Europe. The Greek College in Rome contributed greatly to the development of learning and nurtured two great authors who left their mark on Greek scholarship and literature: Leo Allatios (1587-1668) and Neophytos Rodinos (1576/77-1659). On account of the involvement of scholars, such as these, in propaganda activities onbehalf ofthe western church either through their writings or through missionary work (or in the case of Rodinos both), the Greek College was perceived as a hostile institution by the Orthodox and its operation led to further estrangement between Orthodoxy and Catholicism.2
This was the broader background to the curiosity and to a certain openness shown by the Orthodox at the turn of the sixteenth century towards the Protestant churches of central Europe. A shared hostility towards Catholicism was among the major factors which favoured Orthodox and Protestants drawing closer together in an attempt at mutual understanding. The first such initiative recorded in the sources was the despatch in 1558 by the patriarch of Constantinople Joasaph II the 'Magnificent' of his deacon Demetrios Mysos the Thessalonian to Wittenberg with the task of collecting information on the teachings of the Protestants. Deacon Demetrios's mission gave one of the Reformation's leading lights, the hellenist Philip Melanchthon, the opportunity to address a letter to the patriarch in 1559, outlining the basic beliefs of the Reformed Christians. For the patriarch's fuller information Melanchthon attached to his letter a Greek translation of the Augsburg Confession. In his letter he first gave thanks to God for saving the Christian Church in the east amid so many misfortunes and assured the patriarch that the Reformed Christians piously followed the holy scriptures, the canons of the ecumenical councils
2 Z. N. Tsirpanlis, Tó £ÁAt]Vikó KoAAéyio Tqs Pwp.rs^aioip.adrTS<; tou 1576-1700 (Thes-salonike: Patriarchal Institute for Patristic Studies, 1980).
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