13-Bucur | Russian Orthodox Church | Catholic Church

Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime.

The Case of Romania
Ioan-Marius Bucur
Universitatea Babeș-Bolyai din Cluj-Napoca

Born on the 12 June 1963 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Ioan-Marius Bucur graduated the Faculty of History and Philosophy at Babeș-Bolyai University in 1986. In 2003 he received his Ph.D. in History with a thesis on The History of Greek-Catholic Church in Romania between 1945 and 1953. His main areas of interest are church history in the 20th century and history of Romanian political parties in the interwar period. For the moment, he teaches courses on this two topics at Babeș-Bolyai University for both undergraduate and graduate students.

The communist regimes imposed by the Soviets in several states in central eastern Europe after the Second World War put into practice religious policies which, according to some interpretations, were influenced both by the Marxist ideology and by the osmosis between religion and nationalism characteristic for the geographical area. Taking these countries as a starting point, Pedro Ramet identifies six factors which influenced religious policies: the size of the religious denominations in the confessional structure of the specific country; the extent to which a religious cult was willing to submit to the rules of the political power and its amenability to infiltration by secret police; the connections with a religious authority abroad; the attitude adopted during the Second World War; the population’s ethnical configuration, and the dominant political culture, marked either by anticlericalism or by religious tolerance 1.

Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime

Religion, Politics and Gender


the government allowed the cults’ charity institutions to continue their activity. Following the same pattern of collaboration with all churches. Within the Ministry of Cults a Department for the Catholic cult was set up and the Concordat’s stipulations. Likewise. Another organization. it allowed religious instruction to continue in public schools. such as the “Association for strengthening the relationships with the Soviet Union”(ARLUS). and Armenian – pertaining to the three rites (Greek. Hungarian. although it enjoyed significant subventions and its leaders were appointed heads of the Ministry of Cults. In order to enhance its influence upon churches. signed in 1927 and ratified in 1929. Ruthenian.The pattern of analysis suggested by Ramet can be useful in evaluating the religious policy promoted after 6 March 1945 by the National Democratic Front. the government resorted to other mobilizing and propaganda-oriented organizations. to a certain extent. 162 Ioan-Marius Bucur . Groza’s opinion. It altered the law. especially Law of Cults of 1928.” was set up as a ‘religious front’ organization and was meant to bring together all appointed members of the acknowledged denominations. In P. were generally respected 5. which had previously been forbidden. a vehicle for pro-Russian propaganda. The different ethnic affiliations of the Catholic faithful – Romanian. However. with the aim ensuring their collaboration with the National Democratic Front government in the “field of social achievements”. within this association a religious department was set up. within the new post-war geopolitical framework 3. having as its members Romanian Orthodox hierarchs and personalities belonging to other denominations. the “Union of Democratic Priests. and it punished priests with ambiguous opinions and/or attitudes towards the new regime. Hoping to exert some influence upon the Orthodox clergy and on the hierarchy’s behaviour. the Union of Democrat Priests was not very successful among the clergy. this government strove to gain support from the cults in exchange for being acknowledged and exempted by the government from the nationalisation of their landed properties in the period preceding the agrarian reform. management and control over the activities of the churches. the Groza government took up a deferential attitude towards the Orthodox Church attended by most Romanians 2. Moreover. the Groza government adopted a friendly attitude towards the Catholic Church too. the Groza government also tried to take advantage of the jurisdictional elements present. and it acknowledged certain religious denominations. partnership between state and church was not possible until the latter emerged from its traditionalism 4. At the same time. in the religious legislation adopted during the inter-war period. Confronted with a legitimacy crisis at home and acknowledged only by the Soviets abroad. guidance. the government requested that the Romanian Orthodox Church hierarchs re-establish brotherly relationships with the Russian Orthodox Church as soon as possible. a left-wing coalition inspired by the Soviets and lead by Petru Groza. Along with declarations favourable to the new regime. which established the functioning of the Ministry of Cults in order to increase the prerogatives of supervision. The latter. German. tried to revive the myth of the third Rome. Latin and Armenian) – generated difficulties for the government as it had committed itself to promoting a new policy towards the ethnic minorities 6. sustained by the Kremlin.

suppressing the Romanian United Church by “bringing back” its clergy and believers to the Orthodox Church – an action which enjoyed the support of several Orthodox high priests. The law contained several articles. which directly aimed at the Catholic Church 16. on the basis of Stalinist norms and practices. the government increased its control over private education institutions and compelled them to use Communism-oriented textbooks while the passive opposition of the teaching staff with regard to these changes was severely criticised by the authorities 10. The communist leaders were not shy to admit that the new judicial regulations were politically motivated 9. providing the government the “legal” excuse for removing the bishops and metropolitan bishops reluctant to collaborate 8. Politics and Gender 163 . The complete take over of the political power.” and he also suggested that “both the Orthodox Church clergy and the Catholic Church believers take a stand” against the Catholic clergy’s hostility 12. 27 established the premises of nationalisation of private education. the government decided to restrict the autonomy of the cults even more. the law. Some of the Concordat’s stipulations had become unsteady after the adoption of the new Constitution. The strategy of the communist regime in Bucharest to suppress the Romanian United Church underwent several stages. identifying and encouraging the Roman-Catholic clergy and believers willing to set up a “national Catholic Church” apart from the Holy See. allowing the government to monitor the diocesan assemblies. At the same time. Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion. which in art. The first one modified several articles of the law on the Orthodox Church organisation. The next step involved adopting several resolutions. after King Mihai’s forced abdication and the proclamation of the People’s Republic on 30 December 1947. The objectives of the new religious policy were pointed out by the Communist leader Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej during the first congress of the Romanian Labour Party held in February 1948 11. the communist leader stated that the Vatican had joined the “pro-imperialist reactionary camp. the Ministry of Cults drew up two laws. allowed the Communist Party to undertake some action regarding Romania’s transformation in compliance with the Soviet model. In his speech. As has been noticed in several studies. which attempted to diminish the presence of all religious cults in the public area 15. First of all. to a great extent influenced by the Ukrainian experience 13. rather reflects the state’s concern to exert an excessive and severe control over the church. the communist regime proceeded at denouncing the Concordat 14. endorsing the state monopoly upon education. metropolitan bishops and the Patriarch 7. far from implementing the separation between church and state.The consolidation of the new regime – after the electoral success in November 1946 gained through fraud and violence and after signing the Peace Treaty in February 1947 – had major consequences as far as the relations between state and church were concerned. which elected the Orthodox Church bishops. In order to do so. which allowed the religious cults to maintain schools exclusively for clerical staff training purposes. The second one regulated retirement of all members of the religious hierarchies. During the first month of the year 1947. Therefore. The endorsement of the new law of cults on 4 August 1948 was the final step in suppressing the cults’ freedom. having applied the Soviet model to local conditions. the Communist regime in Bucharest focused its efforts on the following actions: speeding up the Orthodox Church’s integration into the new regime.

he sent a pastoral letter “The Orthodox Church on Religious Freedom. a town in northern Romania situated near the border with the Soviet Union 19. they were transferred.At the beginning of September the process of integrating the Greek-Catholic communities into the Orthodox Church began. on 27 and 28 October the Greek-Catholic bishops and approximately 600 canons. it conformed to the requirements of communist propaganda in the context of the Cold War 22. such as the loyalty to the regime and the struggle for peace. Since in the following period none of the Greek-Catholic bishops abjured. the Orthodox Church was not entirely protected against oppression. In exchange for the concessions obtained. Romania and Slovakia was not just another incident in the Orthodox-Catholic conflict – Greek-Catholicism was considered an instrument of Rome’s proselytising in the Orthodox sphere of influence – but it merely meant a new chapter in a religious policy which aimed at all Catholic communities in Eastern-Central Europe 20. other Orthodox high priests. The communist regime. The authorities however turned down the draft as. as a result of the pressure exerted by the authorities. It must be added that some of the topics debated in the official discourse of the Orthodox Church. were considered touchstones for the discourse of all acknowledged cults on the virtue of the 1948 law. it disregarded the stipulations of the law of cults and. after intense discussions with Monsignor O’Hara. the repression aimed at the Greek-Catholic believers in Western Ukraine. on one hand. Actually. at the end of the 1940s and in the 1950s. the Catholic bishops drew up the draft-statute of the Catholic cult (of Latin and Eastern rite) in Romania which on 28 October was submitted for approval to the Ministry of Cults. a part of the former Greek-Catholic clergy. to the prison of Sighet. 164 Ioan-Marius Bucur . rectors and priests were arrested 18.” in which he praised the religious policy promoted by the authorities and advised the priests to be loyal citizens towards the regime 21. The existence after 1948 of a clandestine Greek-Catholic Church was a fact confirmed by reports of different state institutions. sub-Carpathian Russia. The suppression of the Romanian Greek. as a large number of priests were taken into custody and several thousands of monks and nuns were forced to leave the monastic establishments 23. together with other priests and several Roman-Catholic bishops and priests. and a crowd brought there to complete the scenery 17. As far as the Bucharest Patriarchate’s activity abroad is concerned. and it continued. Patriarch Justinian’s efforts to establish a modus vivendi with the Communist regime were to some extent successful.Catholic Church was carried out in the context of Romania’s sovietization. carried out a strategy meant to incorporate the GreekCatholic believers into the Orthodox Church. Despite Justinian’s attitude and the fact that it was the church of most Romanians. which no longer existed as a result of the “return” of its clergy and believers to the Orthodox Church. taking advantage of the division between the Catholic and Orthodox believers. But as Andrea Ricardi pertinently observed. on the other hand. until the complete return of “the Greek-Catholic brethren” to the “traditional church” was celebrated on 21 October in Alba Iulia – in the presence of Patriarch Justinian. During the months of September and October of the same year. Patriarch Justinian supported the domestic and foreign policy of the communist regime. On 27 February 1949. it made reference to the Catholic Church of Eastern rite (the United Church).

at the lower levels. the closure of the Nunciature of Bucharest 26. within the framework of the class struggle and the East-West conflict. the Bucharest regime organised a “Nunciature trial”. and the United States. Following a scenario also present in other communist states. The Congress for setting up the ‘Status’ was held on 15 March. The charges brought proof that the regime possessed certain data with regard to the development of a clandestine Catholic hierarchy in Romania. 1950. Taking into consideration the role that the Bucharest Nunciature played in the discussions on the adoption of the Roman-Catholic Church statute as well as the support of the clandestine Greek-Catholic Church. these were meant to account for. the authorities attempted to identify. and the attempt to organise the Status was indicated in the resolution adopted therewith as being “in compliance with the laws of the People’s Republic” 25. the so-called “Transylvanian Catholic Status”. This entire action was supported by a violent press campaign against the Holy See. Marton Aron and Anton Durcovici. within the background of the deterioration of the East-West relationships. people willing to collaborate with the regime. to the involvement of Western diplomats. were arrested. the actions undertaken against the Catholic Church and especially for the necessity of setting up a national Catholic church completely separated from the Holy See. During the autumn of 1951. In June 1949 the last two Roman-Catholic bishops acknowledged by the authorities. in gathering and transmitting information to the Vatican regarding the situation of the Catholic Church in Romania 28. an old institution that had emerged within the framework of the turmoil caused by the Reform in Transylvania. was held on 27 April 1950. Simultaneously with their manoeuvre to annihilate the presence of the Roman-Catholic bishops. At the initiative and with the support of the authorities a conference of the RomanCatholic priests and laymen willing to collaborate with the government in view of an “improvement” of the relationships between the Roman-Catholic Church and the communist state. respectively among the vicars and the canons. The participants decided to set up a “Catholic Action Committee” and a commission meant to work out a draft-statute for RomanCatholic Church 24. in an independent manner from the Catholic hierarchy. Czechoslovakia and Bulgaria. the government resorted to another “co-optation” strategy. the reports from the Securitate recommended. Poland. the communist regime in Bucharest revealed the discovery of a new “espionage network” working for the Vatican. Politics and Gender 165 . mostly French and Italian. Following the Soviet pattern of “show-trials”. held between 28-30 June 1950 at the Martial Court in Bucharest. were similar to actions undertaken in Hungary. The trag- Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion. The trials organised against the Catholic faithful in Romania. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs requested the Nunciature members to leave Romania within the next three days 27. the communist regime in Romania adopted new measures in order to restrain the Roman Catholic Church’s public engagement and autonomy and to impose an ecclesiastic authority obedient to it. at the end of the 1940s and at the outset of the 1950s.In the first period of 1949. by reviving. as early as April 1949. As a result of the so-called disclosures made during the trial. In the same time. to the financial support the Nunciature offered to the Greek-Catholic priests who did not return to the Orthodox Church. on July 4.

clergy and people of Romania] 29. the suppression of the Catholic church of eastern rite. The three Greek-Catholic bishops who survived – Iuliu Hossu. After Stalin’s death. the bishops’ imprisonment. del clero e del popolo della Romania” [To the venerable brothers and beloved children of the episcopacy. but they were forced to observe compulsory residence. 166 Ioan-Marius Bucur . among which amnesty for certain members of the religious cults. the first Romanian cardinal of the Greek-Catholic Church. 1 Iuliu Hossu. the prohibition of the Catholic press. In Romania.ic situation of the Catholic communities in Romania brought Pius XII to send on 27 March 1952 an evangelical letter “Ai venerabili Fratelli e diletti Figli dell’ Episcopato. The Pope advised the believers not to abandon the Catholic faith. Ioan Balan and Alexandru Rusu – were taken to the Curtea de Arges ˘ Fig. the abolition of confessional education. the suppression of religious canons and congregations. the communist government adopted several détente measures with regard to religious policy. the ideological softening promoted by Moscow had different consequences within the communist bloc. In this letter Pius XII evoked the persecutions whose victim was the Catholic Church. promising them the spiritual solidarity of the entire Catholic world. Bishop of Cluj-Gherla. The Catholic bishops of Latin and Eastern rite who survived the investigations and imprisonment were set free during the years 1954-1955.

This choice.Orthodox Monastery. on 5 April 1951. in November 1959 a new resolution was passed which said that only the monks over 55 and the nuns over 50 could remain in the monasteries. other prelates were promoted into the Catholic hierarchy. as they enjoyed limited freedoms. where they were able to revive connections with priests and believers who remained Greek-Catholic. the Roman-Catholic church found itself in an extremely unfavourable situation. With an eradicated and annihilated hierarchy. in 1961. made by Gheorghiu Dej and his collaborators within the framework of proclaiming a “peaceful co-existence” between the two systems. lacking a judicial statute on which to base its relationships with the state. The Greek-Catholic bishops’ approach was supported by a vast petition movement. The very slight progress made by the Bucharest communist regime in improving the religious policy during the post-Stalinist period was due both to the events that occurred in the autumn of 1956 in Poland and Hungary. Other restrictions on monasteries were introduced in 1966 35. As a result of his intransigence. and to the persistence of an interpretative scheme according to which it was believed that the Holy See continued to have strong relations with the ‘Western’ camp 33. on the other. In the absence of a legitimate hierarchy. but the Holy See did not validate their appointment 31. Marton Aron. The authorities’ violent response to the request of the Greek-Catholics clergy and believers makes evident the fact that they did not intend to alter the confessional status quo established in 1948. on one hand. At the same time. this time being particularly aimed at the monasteries. however the Vatican did not recognise him 32. Since the government was not at all pleased with the measures adopted by the Orthodox Church Synod in order to reduce the number of monasteries. After Iovanelli’s death. was released in January 1955. which had become “spiritual centres of the anticommunist resistance” 34. the authorities appointed Traian Iovanelli. Politics and Gender 167 . was continued after Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion. deprived of any official connection with the Holy See. The outlining of the principles of national communism in Romania at the beginning of the 1960s generated significant changes in the country. thousands of Greek-Catholic believers signing petitions in favour of the re-acknowledgement of their Church 30. the bishops sent up several petitions to the authorities requesting that their Church be acknowledged again. Gheorghe Gheorghiu-Dej managed to speculate on anti-Soviet feelings and thus he gained the people’s sympathy in the dispute with Moscow 36. Previously Iovinelli had been released from prison after signing a declaration of collaboration with the regime in view of granting “legitimacy” to the Roman-Catholic church. The new wave of religious persecutions at the end of the 1950s was turned against the Orthodox Church too. and of the polycentrism within the communist world. the three monastic seminaries were also closed. the bishop was eventually allowed to return to Alba Iulia. Regarded as the main instigator of the Greek-Catholic clergy. threatened by the collaboration of prelates. At the same time as Iovanelli. Bishop Alexandru Rusu was convicted to 25 years of prison. The authorities responded by taking the bishops to different Orthodox monasteries. The only Roman-Catholic bishop acknowledged by the authorities and by the Holy See. the authorities appointed Franz Augustin head of the Bucharest archdiocese. Vicar general of the Bucharest Archiepiscopate.

to Prime Minister Ion Gheorghe Maurer and the Minister of Foreign Affairs. In 1965. visit Bucharest restoring the dialogue between the Holy See and the Romanian Orthodox Church. This relative tolerance encouraged the Holy See to insist on the approaches aiming at renegotiating the position of the Roman-Catholic church. This might have been one of the few positive consequences for the Catholic communities in Romania brought about by the audience which Paul VI granted.1965 by Nicolae Ceaușescu. As a matter of fact. the head of 168 Ioan-Marius Bucur . ecumenical dialogue was hindered among other factors also because of the Greek-Catholic issue. on 24 January 24. Corneliu Manescu. Petru Pleșa was the bishop acknowledged by the Church. the archbishop of Vienna. ˘ The UNESCO conference held in Bucharest in December 1973 provided the Holy See representative. more precisely in 1972. the promotion of a limited détente towards the RomanCatholic Church 41. which increased his popularity and created the image in the West that he was a reformer that made Moscow uncomfortable. of the new domestic situation. out of the desire to remove Gheorghiu-Dej’s “barons” – a necessary step in order to consolidate his own control over the party – Ceaușescu favoured a certain internal liberalisation. The religious cults took advantage. due to theological. Antal Jakob as auxiliary bishop of the Alba Iulia diocese. mons. Marton Aron 42. as is shown by the refusal to send participants to the Vatican II Council 39. was abandoned in the mid-50s. The regime’s attempt to set up a “national” Roman-Catholic Church. In September 1961. but the government refused to acknowledge him. Only in 1967 did Cardinal Koenig. which allowed. claiming that there were just two dioceses for the Latin rite. The regime’s attitude softened to a certain extent a few years later. the Romanian Orthodox Church resumed its direct contacts with the sister-churches outside the communist bloc. in spite of the rather frequent encounters between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Vatican delegations. testimony of an extremely biased interpretation of the events occurring in the autumn of the year 1948. the Orthodox hierarchs in declarations made at home reiterated this position taken abroad. as the Orthodox Church hierarchs were against the re-acknowledgement of the Greek-Catholic cult 40. by participating in the pan-Orthodox Conference in Rhodes. after 1963. in Bucharest and Alba Iulia. to a certain extent. Nevertheless. Luigi Poggi. Furthermore. As regards the dialogue with the Bucharest communist regime the papal diplomats were aware of the existence of numerous difficulties. political and historical circumstances. whose head was at the time mons. one of the important actors of the Vatican Ostpolitik. Resuming dialogue with the Catholic Church proved however more difficult. separated from the Holy See. The fact that Ceaușescu receiving the representatives of all the cults in Romania on 29 February 1968 represented the climax of his strategy of revisionism with regard to religious policy and the Western diplomats took the new approach of the Romanian communists into consideration 37. the chance to discuss with Dumitru Dogaru. The same year in December it joined the ecumenical movement by participating to the General Assembly of the Council of World Churches in New Delhi 38. when the Department of Cults allowed the recognition of mons.

the residence of his diocese. as a result of the 1982 restriction of the number of students in the two seminaries in Alba Iulia and Iași and of the lack of religious books. the priests and the believers were no longer imprisoned for their religious beliefs. Paul VI granted Ceaușescu an audience. On the background of the declining performance of the economy at the Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion. Only a few months after this announcement. Towards the end of the 1960s. they had been forced to preserve their faith illegally. The rural systematisation project started during the last period of the 1980s. promoted by means of the educational system. within the framework of the reformism promoted by Ceaușescu.the Department of Cults. On the other hand. During the 1980s the Roman-Catholic Church had to deal with various problems. the old bishop did not lose hope. he sent up several petitions to the party and state authorities in which he requested the re-establishment of the Greek-Catholic Church. almost three years after his death. The authorities’ refusal to allow Bishop Iuliu Hossu to return to Cluj. The consolidation of Ceaușescu’s power within the Communist Party at the beginning of the 1970s provided the possibility of abandoning liberalism in favour of the implementation of its own political agenda characterised by neo-Stalinism. the interdependence between religion and ethnicity among the minorities in Romania made the chauvinism of the Ceaușescu regime unacceptable from both a religious and a national perspective 48. and the Greek-Catholic issue was not even mentioned. the plan jointly to work out a statute for the Latin rite of the Catholic Church was not less hampered. The Greek-Catholic believers were also in a dramatic situation. Progress was insignificant due to the suspicion and mistrust between both sides 43. The first round of official discussions carried out by mons. followed by two others. but their activity was monitored by the Securitate and by the Department of Cults. youth organisations and mass-media. As a result. ideological orthodoxy and chauvinistic nationalism. Nevertheless. which avoided mentioning the role of religion – of Orthodoxy and Greek-Catholicism – in educating the nation as well as his ideological campaign for the creation of the “new man”. Although Paul VI elevated Iuliu Hossu among the cardinals in his consistory of 28 April 1969. Politics and Gender 169 . the GreekCatholic-oriented repressive policy was abandoned. the Catholic believers’ expectations were once again disappointed. which involved the re-settling of thousands of peasants. Starting with the year 1965. since the end of the year 1948. regardless of ethnic affiliation. shows the limited character of the concessions made to the Greek-Catholic believers. which in any case could not be publicly proclaimed. Hossu’s name was only made public in the Pope consistory of 5 March 1973. If the Greek-Catholic issue continued to be a taboo topic for both the authorities and the Orthodox Church. The bishops appointed secretly also supported his approach but the appeal to the communist authorities did not achieve a favourable outcome for the Greek-Catholic church 46. the goal of reestablishing the hierarchy of the Roman-Catholic dioceses was reached 44. However. as. The Holy See communiqué made public after the audience had finished spoke little of the Roman-Catholic situation. In turn.47 But Ceaușescu’s attempt to justify the regime by placing the stress on national history. Poggi took place in January 1975. diminished the credibility of his action. in October 1976 and July 1977. contributed to the increase in the feelings of insecurity of the minorities whose cultural and spiritual identity was already menaced 45. among which the reduced number of priests.

end of the 1970s and in the 1980s. It was forced to do so by the “Helsinki Process”. for which they were arrested the same year in April 53. Alexandru Todea and Ioan Ploscariu – sent another petition to the participant states at the Conference in Madrid. Concomitant with the acknowledgement of mons. At the same time. It is not to be excluded that the decision might have been part of the Bucharest government’s strategy to counteract the criticisms of the communist authorities in Budapest as well of the dignitaries of the Hungarian Catholic Church. the restitution of its churches or the right to build new ones. as the signatories to the Final Agreement committed themselves to observing human rights. of political apathy. Ceaușescu. including the Catholics. on January 6. They feared the unequal treatment of the Hungarian minority. of the lack of political legitimacy disguised by a shameless personality cult. It is known for a fact that. Three years later. pope John Paul II strongly supported the cause of the Catholic Church of eastern rite in Romania. At the beginning of the year 1977 a group of six neo-Protestant pastors and laymen drew up and broadcast a document in which they denounced the violation of freedom of conscience in Romania. suppressed in 1948 51. except in the churches in Bucharest and Moldavia. the regime had to deal with the actions of individuals or organisations pleading for the observance of human rights. one of the best-known Romanian dissidents. since the increase of the number of Romanians attending the Roman Catholic Church in Transylvania would have altered its specifically Hungarian character. the measure was also an implicit acknowledgement that the regime had failed in its attempt to abolish the Greek-Catholic Church 52. it addressed the authorities several times. as archbishop and with his appointment as secretary of the Congregation for the Cause of the Saints. a religious revival emerged in the1980s. preferred to emigrate to the Federal German Republic. the right to own education institutions for training future priests 50. The Pope’s declaration stirred the reaction of the Romanian Orthodox Church. in a context in which Germans. the first to N. including religious freedom 49. A year later at the initiative of several neo-Protestant believers –mainly Baptists – a Committee for defending freedom of and conscience (ALRC) was set up. This restriction was abandoned for several reasons. Greek-Catholic priest. in which their requests to the Romanian government were the following: legal acknowledgement of the GreekCatholic cult. up to 1978 the authorities prohibited priests from reading the Mass in Romanian. On 29 June 1977 “The Committee for Rescuing the Greek-Catholic Church” was set up. In September 1988. 1982. Traian Crișan. of the repressive character of the regime. the clandestine GreekCatholic bishops – Ioan Dragomir. On the other hand. which considered the pope’s intervention as interference in the domestic affairs of the Romanian church and contrary to ecumenical spirit. official acknowledgement of its bishops. but also turned to some international institutions requesting the observance of 170 Ioan-Marius Bucur . the second to the participant states at the Conference in Belgrade. the letter was a reaction to the authorities’ suggestion that the former Greek-Catholic believers be reintegrated into the Roman-Catholic Church. sent a letter to John Paul II. Moreover. two months later. it sent two petitions. in order to stop the Greek-Catholic believers whose church had been outlawed from attending Roman-Catholic churches. in which she requested intervention in favour of the re-acknowledgement of the Greek-Catholic church. Doina Cornea.

Other neo-Protestant militants were taken into custody for printing and distributing religious literature. In the spring of the next year he was removed from the Orthodox seminary in Bucharest because of his conferences entitled “Seven words for youth”. At the end of the 1970s and in the 1980s critical voices in the Orthodox Church were raised against the regime and also against the bishops’ conformist behaviour. Proving genuine ecumenical spirit. Bishop of Cluj-Gherla. The best-known Romanian Orthodox dissident was the priest Gheorghe Calciu-Dumitreasa. the Free Trade Union set up by a group of workers and intellectuals in Turnu Severin 55. Politics and Gender 171 . he publicly expressed his solidarity towards members of other denominations who militated for the observance of human rights. In the autumn of the year 1977 he publicly protested against the demolition of an Orthodox church situated in the centre of Bucharest. Arrested in March 1979 Calciu was convicted to ten years prison for “promoting the fascist ideology”. Furthermore. but he was released in Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion. especially among the Romanian population in Transylvania. 2 Iuliu Hossu. he did not hesitate to join. while at Caldarusani. transmitting secret information abroad. Some analysts connect the sharpening of the persecution against the neo-Protestant believers to the increase of their number in the 1960s and the beginning of the 1970s. religious freedom in Romania. The active Committee members were arrested and investigated by the authorities under the claim that they belonged to an “illegal party”. Father Calciu was not sensitive to the spiritual problems of the Orthodox believers only.Fig. which was regarded by the authorities as a threat to the unitary and indivisible character of the Romanian national state 54. as spiritual adviser.

˘ The statement according to which the contradictions of the religious policies promoted by the communism regime are relevant for understanding the dilemmas the communist heads has to deal with. other Orthodox priests also made themselves heard in favour of freedom of faith 56. Dionisie Pippidi and others 57. messages. Dinu C. The church was the only inspiring institution – bearer of values. the only protest came from some cultural personalities. In the 1980s when Ceaușescu’s Promethean efforts to organise the new civic centre in Bucharest caused the demolition of 18 churches. Giurescu. historians such as Razvan Teodorescu.August 1984. After his release and due to the fact that the authorities continued to harass him he immigrated to the United States in August 1985. which the Romanian communist leaders were willing to take up and fight. as a result of several protests abroad. Any potential threat to the ideological and political monopoly was regarded as a challenge. is certainly correct in the Romanian case. Father Calciu was not the only critical voice in the Orthodox Church. behaviours and attitudes – totally different from those promoted by the official ideology. NOTES 172 Ioan-Marius Bucur .

Politics and Gender 173 .Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion.


Romanian Exile. Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion.SOURCES Report on Persecution of the Greek Catholic Church in Romania. Romanian Unit. From: Open Society Archives. Budapest. Religion. 300/60/1/525. Politics and Gender 175 .

Politics and Gender 177 .Church and State Relations under the Communist Regime Religion.

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