The Romanian Orthodox Church (Romanian: Biserica Ortodoxă Română) is an autocephalous Orthodox Church in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches, one of the nine Patriarchates in the Eastern Orthodox Church. Since 1925, the Church's Primate bears the title of Patriarch. Its jurisdiction covers the territories of Romania and Moldova, with additional dioceses for Romanians living in nearby Serbia and Hungary, as well as for diaspora communities in Central and Western Europe, North America and Oceania.
Currently it is the only autocephalous Church within Orthodoxy to have a Romance language for liturgical use. The majority of Romania's population (16,367,267, or 85.9% of those for whom data were available, according to the 2011 census data), as well as some 720,000 Moldovans, belong to the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Members of the Romanian Orthodox Church sometimes refer to Orthodox Christian doctrine as Dreapta credință ("right/correct belief" or "true faith"; compare to Greek ὀρθὴ δόξα, "straight/correct belief").
|Romanian Orthodox Church|
(Patriarchate of Romania)
Coat of arms
|Primate||Daniel, Patriarch of All Romania|
|Monastics||2,810 (men), 4,795 (women)|
|Headquarters||Dealul Mitropoliei, Bucharest|
Western and Southern Europe;
Germany, Central and Northern Europe;
Australia and New Zealand
|Founder||(as Metropolis of Romania)|
Nifon Rusailă, Carol I
(as Patriarchate of Romania)
Miron Cristea, Ferdinand I
|Recognition||25 April 1885|
|Separations||Old Calendarist Romanian Orthodox Church (1925)|
|Members||16,367,267 in Romania; 720,000 in Moldova 11,203 in United States|
The Orthodox hierarchy in the territory of modern Romania had existed within the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople until 1865 when the Churches in the Romanian principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia embarked on the path of ecclesiastical independence by nominating Nifon Rusailă, Metropolitan of Ungro-Wallachia, as the first Romanian primate. Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza, who had in 1863 carried out a mass confiscation of monastic estates in the face of stiff opposition from the Greek hierarchy in Constantinople, in 1865 pushed through a legislation that proclaimed complete independence of the Church in the Principalities from the Patriarchate.
Following the international recognition of the independence of the United Principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia (later Kingdom of Romania) in 1878, after a long period of negotiations with the Ecumenical Patriarchate, Patriarch Joachim IV granted recognition to the autocephalous Metropolis of Romania in 1885, which was raised to the rank of Patriarchate in 1925.
Restricted access to ecclesiastical and relevant state archives makes an accurate assessment of the Romanian Orthodox Church's attitude towards the Communist regime a difficult proposition. Nevertheless, the activity of the Orthodox Church as an institution was more or less tolerated by the Marxist–Leninist atheist regime, although it was controlled through "special delegates" and its access to the public sphere was severely limited; the regime's attempts at repression generally focused on individual believers. The attitudes of the church's members, both laity and clergy, towards the communist regime, range broadly from opposition and martyrdom, to silent consent, collaboration or subservience aimed at ensuring survival. Beyond limited access to the Securitate and Party archives as well as the short time elapsed since these events unfolded, such an assessment is complicated by the particularities of each individual and situation, the understanding each had about how their own relationship with the regime could influence others and how it actually did.
The Romanian Workers' Party, which assumed political power at the end of 1947, initiated mass purges that resulted in a decimation of the Orthodox hierarchy. Three archbishops died suddenly after expressing opposition to government policies, and thirteen more "uncooperative" bishops and archbishops were arrested. A May 1947 decree imposed a mandatory retirement age for clergy, thus providing authorities with a convenient way to pension off old-guard holdouts. The 4 August 1948 Law on Cults institutionalised state control over episcopal elections and packed the Holy Synod with Communist supporters. The evangelical wing of the Romanian Orthodox Church, known as the Army of the Lord, was suppressed by communist authorities in 1948. In exchange for subservience and enthusiastic support for state policies, the property rights over as many as 2,500 church buildings and other assets belonging to the (by then-outlawed) Romanian Greek-Catholic Church were transferred to the Romanian Orthodox Church; the government took charge of providing salaries for bishops and priests, as well as financial subsidies for the publication of religious books, calendars and theological journals. By weeding out the anti-communists from among the Orthodox clergy and setting up a pro-regime, secret police-infiltrated Union of Democratic Priests (1945), the party endeavoured to secure the hierarchy's cooperation. By January 1953 some 300-500 Orthodox priests were being held in concentration camps, and following Patriarch Nicodim's death in May 1948, the party succeeded in having the ostensibly docile Justinian Marina elected to succeed him.
As a result of measures passed in 1947-48, the state took over the 2,300 elementary schools and 24 high schools operated by the Orthodox Church. A new campaign struck the church in 1958-62 when more than half of its remaining monasteries were closed, more than 2,000 monks were forced to take secular jobs, and about 1,500 clergy and lay activists were arrested (out of a total of up to 6,000 in the 1946-64 period). Throughout this period Patriarch Justinian took great care that his public statements met the regime's standards of political correctness and to avoid giving offence to the government; indeed the hierarchy at the time claimed that the arrests of clergy members were not due to religious persecution.
The church's situation began to improve in 1962, when relations with the state suddenly thawed, an event that coincided with the beginning of Romania's pursuit of an independent foreign policy course that saw the political elite encourage nationalism as a means to strengthen its position against Soviet pressure. The Romanian Orthodox Church, an intensely national body that had made significant contributions to Romanian culture from the 14th century on, came to be regarded by the regime as a natural partner. As a result of this second co-optation, this time as an ally, the church entered a period of dramatic recovery. By 1975, its diocesan clergy was numbering about 12,000, and the church was already publishing by then eight high-quality theological reviews, including Ortodoxia and Studii Teologice. Orthodox clergymen consistently supported the Ceaușescu regime's foreign policy, refrained from criticizing domestic policy, and upheld the Romanian government's line against the Soviets (over Bessarabia) and the Hungarians (over Transylvania). As of 1989, two metropolitan bishops even sat in the Great National Assembly. The members of the church's hierarchy and clergy remained mostly silent as some two dozen historic Bucharest churches were demolished in the 1980s, and as plans for systematization (including the destruction of village churches) were announced. A notable dissenter was Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa, imprisoned for a number of years and eventually expelled from Romania in June 1985, after signing an open letter criticizing and demanding an end to the regime's violations of human rights.
In an attempt to adapt to the newly created circumstances, the Orthodox Church proposed a new ecclesiology designed to justify its subservience to the state in supposedly theological terms. This so-called "Social Apostolate" doctrine, developed by Patriarch Justinian, asserted that the church owed allegiance to the secular government and should put itself at its service. This notion inflamed conservatives, who were consequently purged by Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej, Ceaușescu's predecessor and a friend of Justinian's. The Social Apostolate called on clerics to become active in the People's Republic, thus laying the foundation for the church's submission to and collaboration with the state. Fr. Vasilescu, an Orthodox priest, attempted to find grounds in support of the Social Apostolate doctrine in the Christian tradition, citing Augustine of Hippo, John Chrysostom, Maximus the Confessor, Origen and Tertullian. Based on this alleged grounding in tradition, Vasilescu concluded that Christians owed submission to their secular rulers as if it were the will of God. Once recalcitrants were removed from office, the remaining bishops adopted a servile attitude, endorsing Ceauşescu's concept of nation, supporting his policies, and applauding his peculiar ideas about peace.
In the wake of the Romanian Revolution, the Church never admitted to having ever willingly collaborated with the regime, although several Romanian Orthodox priests have publicly admitted after 1989 that they had collaborated with and/or served as informers for the Securitate, the secret police. A prime example was Bishop Nicolae Corneanu, the Metropolitan of Banat, who admitted to his efforts on behalf of the Romanian Communist Party, and denounced activities of clerics in support of the Communists, including his own, as "the Church's [act of] prostitution with the Communist regime".
In 1986, Metropolitan Antonie Plămădeală defended Ceaușescu's church demolition programme as part of the need for urbanization and modernisation in Romania. The church hierarchy refused to try to inform the international community about what was happening.
Widespread dissent from religious groups in Romania did not appear until revolution was sweeping across Eastern Europe in 1989. The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church Teoctist Arăpașu supported Ceaușescu up until the end of the regime, and even congratulated him after the state murdered one hundred demonstrators in Timișoara. It was not until the day before Ceaușescu's execution on 24 December 1989 that the Patriarch condemned him as "a new child-murdering Herod".
As Romania made the transition to democracy, the Church was freed from most of its state control, although the State Secretariat for Religious Denominations still maintains control over a number of aspects of the church's management of property, finances and administration. The state provides funding for the church in proportion to the number of its members, based on census returns and "the religion's needs" which is considered to be an "ambiguous provision". Currently, the state provides the funds necessary for paying the salaries of priests, deacons and other prelates and the pensions of retired clergy, as well as for expenses related to lay church personnel. For the Orthodox church this is over 100 million euros for salaries, with additional millions for construction and renovation of church property. The same applies to all state-recognised religions in Romania.
The state also provides support for church construction and structural maintenance, with a preferential treatment of Orthodox parishes. The state funds all the expenses of Orthodox seminaries and colleges, including teachers' and professors' salaries who, for compensation purposes, are regarded as civil servants.
Since the fall of Communism, Greek-Catholic Church leaders have claimed that the Eastern Catholic community is facing a cultural and religious wipe-out: the Greek-Catholic churches are allegedly being destroyed by representatives of the Orthodox Church, whose actions are supported and accepted by the Romanian authorities.
The Romanian Orthodox Church also has jurisdiction over a minority of believers in Moldova, who belong to the Metropolis of Bessarabia, as opposed to the majority, who belong to the Moldovan Orthodox Church, under the Moscow Patriarchate. In 2001 it won a landmark legal victory against the Government of Moldova at the Strasbourg-based European Court of Human Rights.
This means that despite current political issues, the Metropolis of Bessarabia is now recognized as "the rightful successor" to the Metropolitan Church of Bessarabia and Hotin, which existed from 1927 until its dissolution in 1944, when its canonical territory was put under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church's Moscow Patriarchate in 1947.
There are six Orthodox Metropolitanates and ten archbishoprics in Romania, and more than twelve thousand priests and deacons, servant fathers of ancient altars from parishes, monasteries and social centres. Almost 400 monasteries exist inside the country, staffed by some 3,500 monks and 5,000 nuns. Three Diasporan Metropolitanates and two Diasporan Bishoprics function outside Romania proper. As of 2004, there are, inside Romania, fifteen theological universities where more than ten thousand students (some of them from Bessarabia, Bukovina and Serbia benefiting from a few Romanian fellowships) currently study for a theological degree. More than 14,500 churches (traditionally named "lăcașe de cult", or houses of worship) exist in Romania for the Romanian Orthodox believers. As of 2002, almost 1,000 of those were either in the process of being built or rebuilt.
Canonical Eastern Orthodox autocephalous churches, including the Romanian Orthodox Church, maintain a respectful spiritual link to the Ecumenical Patriarch, currently Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople.
Dumitru Stăniloae (1903–1993) is considered one of the greatest Orthodox theologians of the 20th century, having written extensively in all major fields of Eastern Christian systematic theology. One of his other major achievements in theology is the 45-year-long comprehensive series on Orthodox spirituality known as the Romanian Philokalia, a collection of texts written by classical Byzantine writers, that he edited and translated from Greek.
Initiative of Patriarch Daniel’s, with a deep missionary impact for Church and society, has been the proclamation of jubilee and commemorative years in the Romanian Patriarchate, with solemn sessions of the Holy Synod, conferences, congresses, monastic synaxes, debates, programmes of catechesis, processions and other Church activities dedicated to the respective annual theme.
The patriarchal chair is currently held by Daniel I, Archbishop of Bucharest, Metropolitan of Muntenia and Dobrudja (former Ungro-Wallachia) and Patriarch of All of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Since 1776, the Metropolitan of Ungro-Wallachia has been titular bishop of Caesarea in Cappadocia (Locțiitor al tronului Cezareei Capadociei), an honor bestowed by Ecumenical Patriarch Sophronius II.
Though Romania's Uniates and The Lord's Army—the evangelical wing of Romanian Orthodoxy—were suppressed in 1948 and other religious groups experienced persecution during the late 1950s and early 1960s, Romania relaxed tensions during the 1970s and acquired a reputation in the West for successful management of religion without marked ruthlessness or violence.
The Archdiocese or Archbishopric of Arad (Romanian: Arhiepiscopia Aradului), formerly the Bishopric of Arad (Romanian: Episcopia Aradului, Serbian: Арадска епархија) is an episcopal see of the Romanian Orthodox Church, under the administration of the Metropolis of Banat, with jurisdiction over Arad County in Romania. The current head is bishop Timotei Seviciu.Aristide Razu
Aristide Razu, CB, (1868 – 1950) was a Romanian Divisional General, Commander of the 22nd Romanian Infantry Division in the 1916 Romanian Campaign against the Central Powers, and of the 5th Romanian Infantry Division during the Battle of Mărăşeşti, 6–19 August 1917, in World War I.Church of St. Constantine and Helena (Caracas)
Church of St. Constantine and St. Helena, located in El Hatillo at the south-east of Caracas. It was donated by the Orthodox Church of Venezuela and the Government of Romania to the Orthodox community living in the capital of Venezuela. The land for its construction was donated by the Mayor. There are only 15 religious temples of its kind in the world and only two of them are outside Romania. It was built by craftsmen from Maramures district in Transylvania, it was assembled without nails or metal objects in the structure and it is adorned with religious neo-Byzantine paintings. The bell tower rises more than 30 meters. All the pieces of wood for ceilings and walls, were brought from Romania, according sacred traditions to avoid similarities with the hardware and martyrdoms of the crucifixion.It was inaugurated in 1999 and took part in the act Teoctist Arăpașu, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church at that time. It was decorated by Titiana Nitu Popa and Mihaela Profiriu. The structure is intended to be a replica of the wooden church of Șurdești, the highest in Romania. The dome is a pictorial representation of Our Lady of Coromoto, patron saint of Venezuela.Emil Boc
Emil Boc (Romanian pronunciation: [eˈmil ˈbok]; born 6 September 1966) is a Romanian politician who was Prime Minister of Romania from 22 December 2008 until 6 February 2012 and is the current Mayor of Cluj-Napoca, the largest city of Transylvania, where he was first elected in June 2004. Boc was also the president of the Democratic Liberal Party, which proposed and supported him as Prime Minister in late 2008, from December 2004 until June 2012. On 13 October 2009, his cabinet fell after losing a motion of no confidence in Parliament. He was acting as the head of acting cabinet until a new Prime Minister and cabinet were confirmed by Parliament. On 17 December 2009, President Traian Băsescu designated him again to form a new government, receiving afterwards the vote of confidence from the Parliament.Holy Synod
In several of the autocephalous Eastern Orthodox churches and Eastern Catholic Churches, the patriarch or head bishop is elected by a group of bishops called the Holy Synod. For instance, the Holy Synod is a ruling body of the Georgian Orthodox Church.
In Oriental Orthodoxy the Holy Synod is the highest authority in the church and it formulates the rules and regulations regarding matters of church organisation, faith, and order of service.Lazăr Comănescu
Lazăr Comănescu (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈlazər koməˈnesku]; born 6 June 1949 in Horezu, Vâlcea County) is a Romanian diplomat. He was the Foreign Minister of Romania from 15 April 2008 until 22 December 2008. He was named Romania's ambassador to Germany in 2009. Since 17 November 2015 he has assumed the functions of Minister of Foreign Affairs of Romania.List of members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church
This is the list of the members of the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church, depicting also the organization of the church.Metropolis of Bessarabia
The Metropolis of Bessarabia (Romanian: Mitropolia Basarabiei), also referred to as the Bessarabian Orthodox Church, is a Moldovan autonomous Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan bishopric of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Metropolis of Bessarabia was created in 1918, as the Archbishopric of Chișinău, and organized as a Metropolis, in 1927. Inactive during the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia (1940-1941) and the Soviet rule in Moldova (1944-1991), it was re-activated on 14 September 1992. In 1995, the Metropolis of Bessarabia was raised to the rank of exarchate, with jurisdiction over the territory of Moldova. The current Metropolitan of Bessarabia is Petru (Păduraru).Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova
The Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova (Romanian: Mitropolia Chișinăului și a întregii Moldove; Russian: Кишинёвско-Молда́вская митропо́лия), also referred to as the Moldovan Orthodox Church (Moldovan: Biserica Ortodoxă din Moldova; Russian: Правосла́вная це́рковь Молдо́вы), is a self-governing church under the Russian Orthodox Church. Its canonical territory is the Republic of Moldova.
The Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova is the largest church in the country, and one of the two main Orthodox churches in Moldova (beside the Metropolis of Bessarabia, a self-governing metropolitanate of the Romanian Orthodox Church). In the 2004 census in Moldova 3,158,015 people or 95.5% of those declaring a religion claimed to be Eastern Orthodox Christians of all rites.
The head of the Moldovan Orthodox Church is Metropolitan Vladimir (Cantarean), who is a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church.Old Calendarist Romanian Orthodox Church
The Old Calendarist Romanian Orthodox Church (Romanian: Biserica Ortodoxă de Stil Vechi din România) is an Orthodox Church that uses the old-style Julian calendar. This church was split in 1925 by Metropolitan Glicherie, formerly a member of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The church is in full ecclesiastical communion with similar churches, such as the Orthodox Church of Greece (Holy Synod in Resistance) prior to its merging with another Greek Old Calendarist church and the Old Calendar Bulgarian Orthodox Church.Patriarch Daniel of Romania
Daniel (Romanian pronunciation: [daniˈel]), born Dan Ilie Ciobotea ([ˈdan iˈli.e t͡ʃʲoˈbote̯a]; born 22 July 1951), is the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The elections took place on 12 September 2007. Daniel won with a majority of 95 votes out of 161. He was officially enthroned on 30 September 2007 in the Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest. As such, his official title is "Archbishop of Bucharest, Metropolitan of Muntenia and Dobrogea, Locum tenens of the throne of Caesarea of Cappadocia, Patriarch of Romania".Patriarch Nicodim of Romania
Nicodim (Romanian pronunciation: [nikoˈdim]), born Nicolae Munteanu ([nikoˈla.e munˈte̯anu]; December 6, 1864, Pipirig, Neamț County, Romania – February 27, 1948, Bucharest), was the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church (Patriarch of All Romania) between 1939 and 1948.Patriarch of All Romania
The Patriarch of All Romania (Romanian: Patriarh al Întregii Românii; Romanian pronunciation: [patriˈarh al ɨnˈtred͡ʒij romɨˈnij]) is the title of the head of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Patriarch is officially styled as Archbishop of Bucharest, Metropolitan of Muntenia and Dobrogea, Locum tenens of the throne of Caesarea Cappadociae and Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. Patriarch Daniel acceded to this position on 12 September 2007.Relationship between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Iron Guard
The relationship between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Iron Guard was one of ambivalence: while the Romanian Orthodox Church supported much of the fascist organization's ideology, it did not outright support the movement. Nevertheless, many individual Orthodox clerics supported the Iron Guard and spread their propaganda.
The Orthodox Church promoted its own version of nationalism which highlighted the role of Orthodoxy in preserving the Romanian identity. Starting with the 1920s, Orthodoxy became entangled with fascist politics and antisemitism: the most popular Orthodox theologian at the time, Nichifor Crainic, advocated in his magazine Gândirea a mix of Orthodoxy and nationalism, while philosopher Nae Ionescu argued that Orthodoxy is inseparable from the Romanian identity.Romanian Venezuelan
Romanian Venezuelans are Venezuelans of Romanian descent or a Romania-born person who resides in Venezuela.
The Romanian Immigration in Venezuela started well into the 20th century and deepened in the 1990s.
The Romanian community in Venezuela is around 10,000 people. They are mostly immigrants who arrived in the country, like many other European nationalities, following the Second World War and the policies of the governments of the Warsaw Pact. Romanians became adjusted to Venezuelan society, because Romanian and Spanish belong to Romance languages, as well as Romanians' Latin identity.
The community is organized into various associations such as Casa Rumana de Venezuela. The Romanian Orthodox Church operates in Caracas since 1997. The same year was built the Church of St. Constantine and Helena in the city.St. Stefan's Romanian Orthodox Church
St. Stefan's Romanian Orthodox Church is a historic church built in 1924 in South St. Paul, Minnesota, United States. It was built for Romanian American immigrants who worked in the meatpacking industry. It continues to serve as a Romanian Orthodox Church.Teoctist Arăpașu
Teoctist (Romanian pronunciation: [te.okˈtist], born Toader Arăpașu; February 7, 1915 – July 30, 2007) was the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church from 1986 to 2007.
Teoctist served his first years as patriarch under the Romanian Communist regime, and was accused by some of collaboration. He offered his resignation after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, but was soon restored to office and served a further 17 years.
A promoter of ecumenical dialogue, Patriarch Teoctist invited Pope John Paul II to visit Romania in 1999. It was the first visit of a Pope to a predominantly Eastern Orthodox country since the East-West Schism of 1054.Theodor Stolojan
Theodor Dumitru Stolojan (Romanian pronunciation: [teˈodor stoloˈʒan]; born 24 October 1943) is a Romanian politician who was Prime Minister of Romania from September 1991 to November 1992. An economist by training, he is a leader of the Democratic-Liberal Party. He is currently a Member of the European Parliament for Romania, representing the Democratic Liberal Party (EPP-ED).Third Cristea cabinet
The third cabinet of Miron Cristea was the government of Romania from 1 February to 6 March 1939. Miron Cristea was the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church since 1925. Cristea died on 6 March 1939.
Dioceses of the Romanian Orthodox Church
|Metropolis of Muntenia and Dobrudja|
|Metropolis of Moldavia and Bukovina|
|Metropolis of Transylvania|
|Metropolis of Oltenia|
|Metropolis of Banat|
|Metropolis of Cluj, Maramureș|
|Metropolis of Bessarabia|
|Metropolis of Germany and Central Europe|
|Metropolis of Western and Southern Europe|
|Metropolis of the Americas|
Archdioceses in bold; metropolis seats marked *
|States with limited|
Traditional ecclesiastical jurisidictions in Christianity (and denominational claimants)
(five ancient sees
ordered by the
Council of Ephesus