roc-structure > History of the Romanian Orthodox Church > VI. The Romanian Orthodox Church after 1918 (the “contemporary” period)

VI. The Romanian Orthodox Church after 1918 (the “contemporary” period)

Period 1914 - 1918. The Union of Transylvania, Bessarabia and Bukovina with old Romania - by which the Romanian unitary state was created - brought about a series of changes in the life of the Church. The hierarchs from the territories included became members of the Holy Synod from Bucharest, and, on December 18 / 31, 1919, the Transylvanian Miron Cristea, who had been bishop of Caransebes until then and one of the great supporters of the Union, was elected metropolitan primate. Soon after that, the proceedings for the religious unification began, which was concluded on May 6, 1925, when the Law and Statute for the organisation or the Romanian Orthodox Church were promulgated.
On February 4, 1925, the Holy Synod decided to elevate the Romanian Orthodox Church to the rank of Patriarchate and to raise the metropolitan primate to that of patriarch. The law for setting up the Patriarchate was promulgated on February 25, 1925, and on November 1, 1925, the enthronement of the first patriarch Miron Cristea (1925 - 1939) took place. His successor was patriarch Nicodim Munteanu (1939-1948), author of many original theological works and translator from the  Russian theological literature. During the pastoral rule of these two patriarchs, a few new dioceses were set up (in Oradea, Cluj, Constanta, Maramures, Timisoara and a missionary Diocese for the Romanian Orthodox faithful in America).
On the eve of the World War II, the Romanian Patriarchate had the following administrative-territorial organisation: I. Metropolitanate of Ungro-Wallachia with the following dioceses: Bucharest, Ramnic - the New Severin, Buzau, Arges, Tomis (Constanta); II. Metropolitanate of Moldova and Suceava, with the dioceses of Iasi, Roman, Husi and Lower Danube (Galati); III. Metropolitanate of Transylvania, with the dioceses of Sibiu, Arad, Caransebes, Oradea, Cluj; IV. Metropolitanate of Bukovina with dioceses of Cernauti, Hotin (Balti), and from 1938 also from Maramures (Sighet); V. Metropolitanate of Bessarabia with the dioceses of Kishinev and Cetatea Alba (Ismail). From 1921, there has been a Diocese of the Army (seated in Alba Iulia) and from 1934, the Missionary Diocese for the Romanians from America (seated in Detroit).
The theological education developed quite extensively: Faculties of Theology in Bucharest (from 1881), Cernauti (1875) and Kishinev (1927), Theological Academies in Sibiu, Arad, Caransebes, Cluj and Oradea and other 8 Theological seminaries.
A series of new church periodicals appeared besides the old ones: Biserica Ortodoxa Romana (Romanian Orthodox Church) and Studii Teologice (Theological studies) in Bucharest; Candela (Votive Light) in Cernauti; Revista Teologica (Theological Magazine) in Sibiu; Luminatorul (Luminary) and Misionarul (Missionary) in Kishinev, all of them as diocesan bulletins.
The Romanian Orthodox Church from 1944-1989. After 1944, the Church has been gradually removed from the state life. In 1948 the religious education was removed from schools, the religious services in hospitals, old people’s homes and army were forbidden, the diocesan periodicals were abolished, the Faculty of Theology from Suceava was dissolved (the former one in Cernauti) and so were four theological Academies in Transylvania and Banat, as well as the theological seminaries of the dioceses in Muntenia and Moldova, while the catechisation of the youth ceased. Soon after 1944, more than one thousand Orthodox priests (plus Roman Catholics, Greek Catholics and Protestants) were arrested, put into prisons, sent to work at the Danube - Black Sea canal, or deported even to Siberia: some of them died there, while most of them were released only in 1964. Among those arrested were outstanding theologians, such as: Nichifor Crainic, Ioan Savin, Dumitru Staniloae, Liviu G. Munteanu, Ilarion Felea, Ion V. Georgescu (deported to Siberia) and many others; some Orthodox priests were shot dead. The former metropolitan of Bukovina, Visarion Puiu was sentenced to death in contumacy (+1964, in France). In 1959 a series of sketes and monasteries were dissolved, hundreds of monks and nuns were brutally taken out of these monasteries and sent to their families or in factories by the state authorities. During the last years of the communist dictatorship, more than 20 places of worship were demolished in Bucharest (the monasteries of Cotroceni, Vacaresti, Alba-Postavari, Enei, Spirea Noua, Izvor, Holy Trinity - Dudesti etc.). The licenses necessary for building or restoring certain churches were granted with great difficulty. Orthodox priesthood, in its entirety, was permanently watched over and controlled, through the so-called “inspectors of religious cults” and Security officers, always present in the religious institutions.
Among the hierarchs in that period, one could mention, first of all, patriarch Justinian Marina (1948-1977), a good organiser and supervisor of the religious life in the conditions created after the World War II. He was succeeded by patriarch Iustin Moisescu (1977-1986), former professor at the Faculties of Theology in Warsaw, Cernauti and Bucharest, then metropolitan of Transylvania (1956-1957) and of Moldova (1957-1977). Starting with 1986 until 2007, our Church has been headed by patriarch Teoctist Arapasu, former assistant bishop, bishop of Arad, metropolitan of Oltenia, then of Moldova. Beginning with 30 September 2007, the patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church is His Beatitude Daniel, formerly assistant bishop to the Archdiocese of Timisoara and Metropolitan of Moldova and Bucovina.
After 1948, most of the 12.000 Orthodox places of worship (churches, monasteries, sketes and chapels) throughout the country were restored through the donations of the faithful. Most of the churches and monasteries declared historical monuments were also restored. At the same time, thousands new churches were built throughout the Romanian Patriarchate, some of them as real monuments of art.
Relations have been also established with the old Oriental Churches (Patriarchate of Ethiopia, Armenian Catholicosate in Etchmiadzin, Coptic Patriarchate in Egypt and the Jacobite Syrian Church in Kerala- India), the Roman Catholic Church (especially with the Vatican and in Austria, Germany and Belgium), the Old Catholic Church, with the Anglican Church, as well as with a series of Protestant Churches.
The Romanian Orthodox Church has been a member of the World Council of Churches since 1961. It sent delegations to the General Assemblies in New Delhi (1961), Uppsala (1968), Nairobi (1975), all of them headed by the then metropolitan of Moldova and Suceava, Iustin Moisescu (former member of the Central Committee until 1977) and to Vancouver (1983), headed by the Metropolitan of Transylvania Antonie Plamadeala.
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Solemn year - 2018