passed to prevent any similar uprising in Romania. By Decree no. 410/1959, Orthodox monasteries and monastic seminaries were closed and most monks and nuns aged fifty-six or younger were forced to leave their monasteries and to find secular jobs.
In 1965, Nicolae Ceau§escu emerged as the leader of the Romanian Communist Party. At first, there were signs of liberalisation in domestic policy. Ceausescu soon gained international respect when he recognised the state of Israel and refused to support the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia in 1968. Rather than affirming Romanian identity, Ceau^escu's anti-Soviet nationalism fed a self-glorifying ideology that in later years developed into a neo-Stalinist personality cult and a new brand of nepotistic despotism. While tolerating the majority Romanian Orthodox Church as the 'national' church, Ceausescu ensured that it was systematically infiltrated, to serve his anti-Russian programme.
Provided that they were loyal to the regime, Orthodox church leaders avoided the worst of the persecution and they created an impressive 'show' in ecumenical forums, presenting government policies as more liberal than they in fact were. This entailed a degree of basic compromise, which was hidden from the large number of foreign church leaders with whom the Romanians came into contact. The Romanian Orthodox Church joined the WCC (World Council of Churches) in 1961 and soon became by far the most ecumenically minded of all the Orthodox churches. Behind the scenes, however, there was persecution of believers, brutal at times. Petre Tutea, for example, spent thirteen years as a prisoner of conscience and a further twenty-eight years under house arrest at the hands of the secret police, the Securitate. None of this hidden history found its way into the ecumenical forums where Romanian church leaders played leading roles.10 It was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the overthrow in 1989 of Ceausescu that the true experience of Romanian Orthodox under communism began to emerge.
Under communism, all forms of religion were rejected programmatically as philosophically incompatible with Marx's dialectical materialism. Lenin and Stalin put into practice the classic Marxist formula, which derives religious alienation from the more basic economic and social alienation and, consequently, transforms the struggle against religion into a struggle against the inequitable social system. One important phenomenon was that of so-called re-education, or 'brainwashing' as it was called in the west.
10 Alexandra Popescu, Petre Tutea: between sacrifice and suicide (Aldershot: Ashgate, 2004).
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