lay people are powerless to do anything about it. This originated in 1992, when the United Democratic Forces (UDF) government interfered in the church's affairs. Their basic contention was that the election of Patriarch Maxim in communist times was rigged and therefore invalid and that consequently the holy synod, the ruling body, was illegitimate. The Board for Religious Affairs (itself a dubious survival from the days when communism controlled the church) replaced Maxim by Metropolitan Pimen of Nevrokop. The opposition Bulgarian Socialist Party (BSP), a reformed and modernised descendant of the Communist Party, backed Maxim.
In 1998 Patriarch Bartholomaios of Constantinople, the nominal leader of world Orthodoxy but lacking executive jurisdiction over individual national churches, visited the country in the company of a host of other senior figures, but the outcome brought no progress. It will take some time yet for the legacy of communism to disappear.35
The Romanian Orthodox Church, too, has had problems in coming to terms with its past. Patriarch Teoktist presided over a church which saw its freedom visibly diminish in President Ceausescu's later days. This affected the church especially in many rural areas, where the authorities were trying to reduce the independent spirit manifested almost universally in the countryside. One means of doing this was to pull down individual housing and replace it by communal blocks built of concrete. However much priests were involved in defending the integrity of their communities at local level, the patriarch continued to pay fulsome tribute to Ceau^escu. The last of these messages, a Christmas greeting in 1989, reached many of its recipients after the summary execution of the disgraced leader on 25 December. The next issue of Romanian Orthodox Church News (a journal published in Bucharest in English) opened with the words:
After several decades of slavery under communist dictatorship and a lot of suffering from Ceausescu's cruel dictatorship, we rejoice that God has turned His face to our people and, having seen the multitude of innocent children and youth killed by the repressive forces of the dictator, saved us from the shadow of death and set us at liberty.36
Patriarch Teoktist offered to resign, but the holy synod requested him to stay on after he had given the lead in repenting, a step followed by several other hierarchs who admitted to having collaborated with the communist regime.
35 See J. Broun, 'Schism in Bulgaria and the new law on confessions', Frontier (Keston Institute) 3 (Winter 2004), 4-9.
36 Romanian Orthodox Church News 6 (1989), 3.
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