Romanian Greek Catholic Church

The Romanian Greek Catholic Church or Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic (Romanian: Biserica Română Unită cu Roma, Greco-Catolică) is a sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church, in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. It has the rank of a Major Archiepiscopal Church and it uses the Byzantine liturgical rite in the Romanian language.

Since 1994, Cardinal Lucian Mureșan, Archbishop of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, serves as head of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church. On December 16, 2005, as the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic was elevated to the rank of a Major Archiepiscopal Church by Benedict XVI, Lucian Mureșan became its first major archbishop. Mureşan was eventually created a cardinal, at the Consistory of February 18, 2012.

Besides the Archeparchy of Fǎgǎraș and Alba Iulia, there are five more Greek-Catholic eparchies in Romania (Eparchy of Oradea Mare, Eparchy of Cluj-Gherla, Eparchy of Lugoj, Eparchy of Maramureș, and Eparchy of Saint Basil the Great of Bucharest),[1] as well as one eparchy overseas, the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St George's in Canton, answering directly to the Major Archbishop and the Holy See, in the United States of America and Canada.[2]

According to data published in the 2016 Annuario Pontificio, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church had 504,280 members, 8 bishops, 1,225 parishes, some 835 diocesan priests and 235 seminarians of its own rite at the end of 2012.[3] However, according to the 2011 Romanian government census, the number of its followers living in Romania was as low as 150,593, of which 124,563 are ethnic Romanians.[4] The dispute over this figure is mentioned in the United States Department of State report on religious freedom in Romania.[5]

In addition, there are five other Catholic dioceses in Romania, belonging to the Latin Church, whose members are more numerous.

Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic

Biserica Română Unită cu Roma, Greco-Catolică
Catedrala Blaj
- Total

150,593 (2011 Census) or 663,807 (2012 Annuario Pontificio)
Established1698, formalized 1700
outlawed in 1948
allowed March 14, 1990
Current leadership
BishopLucian Mureșan
Romanian Greek-Catholic (Uniate) Church map


Biserica Bob din Medias
The Greek-Catholic Church in Mediaş, built by bishop Ioan Bob
Biserica sf.Petru si Pavel (2)
The former Greek-Catholic Church in Sibiu, built by bishop Grigore Maior

Following the Habsburg conquest of Transylvania in 1687, Metropolitan Atanasie Anghel entered into full communion with the See of Rome by the Act of Union of 1698, that was formalized by a synod of bishops on September 4, 1700.[6]

By entering into the Union, Atanasie and the other bishops, along with their respective dioceses, accepted the supreme authority of the Pope, while at the same time being granted the right to keep their own Greek Byzantine liturgical rite. A Diploma issued by the Emperor Leopold I declared that Transylvania's Romanian Orthodox Church is one with the Roman Catholic Church. Transylvanian Romanians were therefore encouraged to convert to Catholicism and join the newly created Greek-Catholic Church, while being able to retain the Byzantine rite, if at the same time they accepted four doctrinal points promulgated by the Council of Florence (1431 and 1445): the supreme authority of the Pope over the entire church; the existence of Purgatory; the Filioque clause; and the validity of the use of unleavened bread in the celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin Church (Eastern Orthodox had contended that Roman Catholic use of unleavened bread was erroneous).

The step undertaken by Metropolitan Atanasie Anghel and his Holy Synod obtained for the ethnic Romanians of Transylvania (then part of the Habsburg Empire) equal rights with those of the other Transylvanian nations, which were part of the Unio Trium Nationum: the Hungarian nobility, the Transylvanian Saxons, and the Székely. This event coincided with the arrival of the Jesuits in Transylvania, who attempted to align this province more closely with Western Europe. However, most Romanians were not willing to convert,[7] and this in turn led to the formation of Romanian Orthodox movements that advocated for freedom of worship for the entire Transylvanian population – most notable the movements led by Visarion Sarai, Nicolae Oprea Miclăuş, and Sofronie of Cioara, under the influence of the dominant Serbian Church.

In 1721, the Bishop's Residence was moved from Alba Iulia to Făgăraș, and eventually to Blaj (1737). Following this change, Blaj became a center of learning and national awakening for all Romanians..[8]

In 1761, Petru Pavel Aron (1709–1764), the Bishop of Făgăraș and head of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, translated Biblia Vulgata into Romanian. While the Romanian Orthodox kept Church Slavonic as the official liturgical language till 1863, the Romanian Church United with Rome has been using the Romanian vernacular ever since its inception. In the 19th century, during a time when the Hungarian government was pursuing a Magyarization policy in Transylvania, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, with the aid of the Transylvanian School (Școala Ardeleană) and the Transylvanian Memorandum, played a prominent role in resisting ethnic assimilation attempts. Moreover, many leading figures of the Romanian emancipation movement in Transylvania, such as Simion Bărnuțiu and Iuliu Maniu, began their careers as lay servants of the Greek-Catholic Church.

Additional Greek-Catholic Eparchies were eventually set up at Oradea (1777), as well as Gherla and Lugoj (1853); Blaj, under the title of Eparchy of Alba Iulia and Făgăraș, became the Metropolitan (i.e. Archiepiscopal) See. On December 16, 2005, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church was elevated to the rank of Major Archiepiscopal Church.

Persecution under Communism

After assuming political power in 1948, the Communist regime, rooted in Marxist–Leninist atheism, deposed all 12 bishops of the Greek-Catholic Church on Stalin's orders. Moreover, on October 21, 1948, the 250th anniversary of the Romanian Greek Catholic Union with the Roman Catholic Church, the regime arranged for the "voluntary" and "spontaneous" transfer of all members of the Greek-Catholic Church (decree 358/1948), that numbered some 1,500,000 at the time, to the Romanian Orthodox Church; furthermore, the property rights over many of the Greek-Catholic Church's possessions, including its four cathedrals, were transferred to the Romanian Orthodox Church, while the remainder of those properties were confiscated by the State.[9]

The Greek-Catholic bishops, along with many of their priests, were accused by the newly installed Communist authorities of "antidemocratic activity". After refusing to give up their ties with the "reactionary" Holy See, they were imprisoned. At about the same time, the Orthodox Church was being "purged" of priests hostile to the Communist regime. Following this purge, the Orthodox hierarchy enjoyed good relations with the Communist authorities for the remainder of the Communist Rule of Romania.

Greco-catolici Transilvania 1850
Greek-Catholics in Transylvania (1850 census)
Greco-catolici Romania (1930)
Greek-Catholics in Banat, Crișana, Maramureș, and Transylvania (1930 census)
Greco-catolici Romania (2002)
Greek-Catholics in Romania (2002 census)
Greek-catholics in Romania 2002
Greek-Catholic presence, according to the 2002 census[10]

Iuliu Hossu, Bishop of Cluj, turned down a proposal of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch, Iustinian Marina, to convert to Orthodoxy and be named Orthodox Archbishop of Iaşi and metropolitan of Moldavia, and thereby become the official successor of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch himself. Consequently, Hossu remained under house arrest. Year after year, he sent Memorandums to the President of the Republic, requesting that the country's laws and international agreements be observed with regard to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church. In 1969, Pope Paul VI asked Hossu to accept an appointment to the cardinalate. As Hossu was reluctant to leave his people, the Pope created him a Cardinal only "in pectore", i.e. without publishing the fact, that was only revealed on March 5, 1973, three years after Bishop Hossu's death.[11]

Another remarkable Romanian Greek-Catholic ecclesiastic of the time was Alexandru Todea (1912–2002). Secretly (in pectore) consecrated as a titular bishop on November 19, 1950, he was arrested and the following year he received a sentence of life in prison. He was granted amnesty in 1964. On March 14, 1990, after the fall of the Communist regime, he was appointed Archbishop of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, and was created a Cardinal the following year.[12]

After more than 40 years of clandestine existence, the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic re-emerged publicly, in the wake of the Romanian Revolution. Normative act 9/31, passed on December 31, 1989, repealed Decree 358/1948 (that outlawed the Greek-Catholic Church) as repugnant and bringing grave prejudice upon the Romanian State.

Only after much struggle and considerable delays, some of the Church's properties, in particular the cathedrals of Cluj, Blaj, Lugoj, and Oradea, were restored to their rightful owner. However, much of the original property remains in Romanian Orthodox or government hands, as the persecution started in 1948 has led to a marked reduction in the numbers of Romanian Greek Catholic faithful. After 40 years of Communist rule and forced assimilation into the regime-approved Orthodox Church, numerous Romanian cradle Greek-Catholics remained in the Romanian Orthodox Church, and it is unclear how many of these nominal Orthodox members remain crypto-Catholic, especially in northern Transylvania where most Greek Catholics lived (as shown on the maps to the right). The Romanian Catholic Church United with Rome is still undergoing a process of recovery from the wounds inflicted by the Communist rulers and the forced merger.

Property issues since the fall of Communism

Since the fall of Communism, Church leaders have claimed that the Romanian Greek-Catholic Community is facing a cultural and religious wipe-out: the Greek-Catholic churches are allegedly being destroyed by representatives of the Romanian Orthodox Church, whose actions allegedly enjoy not only the acceptance, but also the support of the Romanian authorities.[13]


Ecclesiastical Province of Fagaras and Alba Iulia

Immediately subject to the Holy See

See also


  1. ^ "Romanian Church". Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  2. ^ "". Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  3. ^ Ronald Roberson. "The Eastern Catholic Churches 2016" (PDF). Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Retrieved 29 November 2016. Information sourced from Annuario Pontificio 2012 edition
  4. ^ 2011 Romanian census official data.
  5. ^ International Religious Freedom Report 2005 United States Department of State
  6. ^ The Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism (New York: Harper Collins, 1995) 1132.
  7. ^ "Major dates from the history of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church". Retrieved 10 January 2017.
  8. ^ Harper-Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 1132; James Niessen, "The Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation in Transylvania," in John-Paul Himka, James T. Flynn, James Niessen, eds. Religious Compromise, Political Salvation: the Greek Catholic Church and Nation-building in Eastern Europe (Pittsburgh: Carl Beck Papers, 1993). (ordered via USMAI); received Wednesday, March 11, 2009): 49-51
  9. ^ Harper-Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 1132; Niessen, "The Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation", 59–60
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-03-20.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  11. ^ Niessen, "the Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation," 60.
  12. ^ Niessen, "The Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation," 60
  13. ^ "The Romanian Greek-Catholic Community is facing a cultural and religious wipe-out – letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton". Retrieved 10 January 2017.

External links

Coordinates: 46°10′25″N 23°55′15″E / 46.1735°N 23.9208°E

Apostolic visitor

In the Catholic Church, an apostolic visitor (or Apostolic Visitator) is a papal representative with a transient mission to perform a canonical visitation of relatively short duration. The visitor is deputed to investigate a special circumstance in a diocese or country, and to submit a report to the Holy See at the conclusion of the investigation.

Atanasie Rednic

Atanasie Rednic (1722–1772) was Bishop of Făgăraş and Primate of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1765 to his death in 1772.

George Guțiu

George Guțiu (March 30, 1924 – May 8, 2011) was a bishop of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church.

Ordained to the priesthood in 1948, Guțiu was appointed bishop of the Greek Catholic Diocese of Cluj-Gherla, Romania and retired in 2002.

Greek Catholic Church

The Greek Catholic Church refers to a number of Eastern Catholic Churches following the Byzantine (Greek) liturgy, considered collectively or individually.

The terms Greek Catholic, Greek-Catholic, Greek Catholic church and Greek-Catholic Church may refer to:

Individually, any 14 of the 23 Eastern Catholic Churches which use the Byzantine rite, a.k.a. Greek Rite:

the Albanian Greek Catholic Church

the Belarusian Greek Catholic Church

the Bulgarian Greek Catholic Church

the Greek Catholic Church of Croatia and Serbia

the Greek Byzantine Catholic Church, in Greece and Turkey

the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church

the Italo-Albanian Catholic Church

the Macedonian Greek Catholic Church

the Melkite Greek Catholic Church

the Romanian Greek Catholic Church (officially the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic)

the Russian Greek Catholic Church

the Ruthenian Greek Catholic Church

the Slovak Greek Catholic Church

the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church

Any other group of Eastern Catholics following the Byzantine rite:

the Georgian Byzantine-Rite Catholics

an Ordinariate for Eastern Catholic faithful without proper ordinary, in 6 countries

The Catholic Church in Greece, a Roman Catholic hierarchy following the Latin rite in the country of Greece

Grigore Maior

Grigore Gavrila Maior, O.S.B.M. (1715 – 7 February 1785) was Bishop of Făgăraş and Primate of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1773 to his resignation in 1782.

Ioan Bob

Ioan Bob, (1739 – 2 October 1830) was Bishop of Făgăraş and Primate of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1783 to his death in 1830.

Ioan Giurgiu Patachi

Ioan Giurgiu Patachi (or Latin: Ioannes Nemes de Pataki, 1680–1727) was Bishop of Făgăraş and Primate of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1721 to his death in 1727.

Ioan Lemeni

Ioan Lemeni (22 April, 1780 – 29 March, 1861) was Bishop of Făgăraş and Primate of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1833 to his resignation in 1850.

Ordinariate for the Faithful of Eastern Rite in Spain

The Ordinariate for the Faithful of Eastern Rite in Spain is an Ordinariate (pseudo-diocese) for all non-Latin Catholic faithful living in Spain who belong to the particular Churches sui iuris of any Eastern rite immediately subject to the Holy See.

Romanian Catholic Diocese of Maramureș

The Greek Catholic Eparchy of Maramureș was founded as a consequence of the Concordate between the Holy See and The Romanian State concluded on May 10, 1927 and ratified on June 10, 1929.

Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Bucharest

The Romanian (Greek) Catholic Eparchy of (Saint Basil the Great of) Bucharest (Romanian Sfântul Vasile cel Mare de Bucureşti) is an eparchy of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church (Byzantine Rite in Romanian language). It is a suffragan of Romanian Greek Catholic Archdiocese of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, which is the Major-Archbishopric of the Romanian Catholic particular church sui iuris.

The episcopal see is the cathedral of Saint Basil the Great (Sfântul Vasile cel Mare) in the Romanian capital Bucharest.

Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Cluj-Gherla

The Greek Catholic Diocese of Cluj-Gherla is a diocese of the Byzantine Rite of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Făgăraș și Alba Iulia.

Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Lugoj

The Eparchy of Lugoj is an eparchy of the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic.

Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Oradea Mare

The Greek Catholic diocese of Oradea Mare is the Eparchy of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church for the area of Oradea.

It was founded in 1777, followers of the Greek Rite having been up to that time under the jurisdiction of the Latin bishop. Originally the see was a suffragan of Esztergom (Gran); when, however, in 1853 the Greek Catholic Diocese of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia became the Archdiocese of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, the diocese of Oradea Mare was transferred to its jurisdiction. The see is divided into six archidiaconates and 19 vice-archidiaconates.

Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St George's in Canton

The Eparchy of St George's in Canton is a Romanian Greek-Catholic eparchy based in Canton, Ohio, United States. The current eparch is John Michael Botean. The eparchy's cathedral church is St. George Cathedral, Canton, Ohio. The boundaries of the eparchy stretch across the continental United States and Canada. The easternmost presence is a mission in Boston, MA and the westernmost is a mission in Los Angeles, CA. There are fourteen Romanian Catholic parishes and five missions in the United States, as well as two parishes in Canada.

Unirea (newspaper)

Unirea ("The Union") was a newspaper published at Blaj, in the Transylvania region, which was administered by Austria-Hungary until 1918 and was thenceforth part of Romania. Appearing between January 3, 1891 and March 24, 1945, it was an official publication of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church.The newspaper's initial editor was Bishop Vasile Hossu. Taking a stance against Junimea and its magazine Convorbiri Literare in the months following its January 1891 establishment, Unirea featured a series of critical articles about Mihai Eminescu, authored by the priest Alexandru Grama. The newspaper published poems, including by Ion Agârbiceanu, who made his debut there with Amintiri in 1899. Elena din Ardeal and Ion Pop-Reteganul numbered among its prose fiction contributors. In 1899, a study on the works of Andrei Mureșanu appeared; in addition, a review of George Coșbuc's poetry was published the same year. Verses by Octavian Goga, Lucian Blaga, Iustin Ilieșiu and Teodor Murășanu all ran in the newspaper's pages. Translations it featured include François-René de Chateaubriand's Atala, poems by Friedrich Wilhelm Weber and humorous prose from French, Italian, Spanish and English literature. Shortly before its demise, it published documents relating to the King Michael Coup.Although belonging to the church and receiving an important part of its contributions from Greek-Catholic clerics and teachers at the local Romanian schools, Unirea, which billed itself as a "churchly-political broadsheet", avoided an excessive focus on theological and religious themes. Its editors instead preferred to discuss political matters, as well as the status of Transylvania's Romanians. This orientation was particularly visible in late autumn 1918, in the period leading up to the union of Transylvania with Romania. Traditionally, the paper had been published in a weekly four-page edition, but an early November copy was written in red ink to emphasize its festive character. The occasion it celebrated was the recent establishment at Blaj of a Romanian National Council and National Guard, both of which held sway over Alsó-Fehér County. On November 28, the front page called Romanians to Alba Iulia, to the assembly that would ratify the union. Into 1919, the newspaper continued as a daily propagandistic organ; taken over by the National Council, its director was Alexandru Ciura. This period marked its apogee; it subsequently split into two publications, with the churchly-religious section continuing as Unirea, while the lay part was called Unirea poporului.Unirea was shut down by the new Romanian Communist Party-dominated government, which viewed the newspaper unfavorably, in March 1945. A newspaper with the same name was set up at Alba Iulia in 1967.

Virgil Bercea

Virgil Bercea (born 1957) is the Bishop of the Diocese of Oradea Mare of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church since 1997.


Vărădia (Hungarian: Varadia) is a commune in Caraș-Severin County, in the west of Romania. It is composed of two villages, Mercina (Mercsény) and Vărădia.

It is located near the border with Serbia, on the Caraș River.

In Vărădia village there is a Romanian Orthodox church, a Romanian Greek-Catholic church, a Baptist church and an old Orthodox church which has become an monastery.

Romanian Greek Catholic Church hierarchy
Major Archbishops
Romanian Greek Catholic Church
Major archeparchy
Curial bishop
Apostolic visitor
Bible and
By country
of the faithful
Principal religions of Romania
Not state-recognised

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