The Romanian Orthodox Church since 1989

After the Communist regime was abolished in 1989, profound changes and renewals occurred within the Church as well. The 1992 census established the confessional ratio in Romania: 86.6 per ent Orthodox, 5 per cent Roman-Catholic, 3.5 percent Reformed, 1 per cent Greek Catholic, and under 4 per cent other cults. From 1990, some of the abolished bishopric centres were re-established, so that, at present, the Orthodox Church has the following structure: the Metropolitan seat of Vallachia and Dobrudja, with bishopric centres in Bucharest, Constanta (Tomis), Targoviste, Buzau, Galati (the Lower Danube), Slobozia, Alexandria; the seat of Moldavia and Bukovina, with centres in Iasi, Suceava-Radauti, Roman and Husi; the seat of Transylvania, with the centres of Sibiu, Feleac and Cluj, Vad, Alba-Iulia, Oradea, Maramures (Baia-Mare) and Covasna-Harghita; the seat of Oltenia, with centres in Craiova and Ramnic, and the seat of Banat, with centres in Timisoara, Arad and Caransebes. Two new metropolitan seats created for the Romanians in Gyula (Hungary) and Varset (Yugoslavia) are subordinated to the seat of Banat. Most of these centres are run by new hierarchs, educated in Romania and abroad: Daniel Ciobotea in Iasi, Teofan Savu in Craiova, Bartolomeu Anania in Cluj, Nifon Mihaita in Targoviste, Casian Craciun in Galati.

In Chisinau, the Metropolitan seat of Bessarabia, in Chisinau, subordinated to the Holy Synod of Bucharest, functions parallel to a Metropolitan seat of the Republic of Moldova, subordinated to the Holy Synod of the Russian Orthodox Church in Moscow. A metropolitan seat was created for the Romanian diaspora in Germany, and was run by Archbishop Serafim Joanta in Nuremberg. Another one exists in Paris, run by Archbishop Iosif Pop. The two archbishopric centres in America still function, one collaborating with the patriarchate, the other under foreign jurisdiction. The number of Orthodox Romanians abroad has increased, owing to massive emigration since the late 1980s.

About fourteen new theology faculties, in Iasi, Cluj, Craiova, Timisoara, among other places, and seminaries were opened after 1990, somewhat exceeding the real needs of the Church. Editorial activity developed as theological studies, textbooks and translations from western literature were published. Archbishop Bartolomeu Anania of Cluj, an esteemed poet, playwright and theologian, published his translation of the Bible. As well as the previously existing periodicals, every bishopric centre has its own newsletter.

New monasteries appeared (Recea-Mures, Ciolpani-Bacau, Barsana and Sapanta in Maramures), and the ones that had been closed down by the Communist regime were reopened. In the early twenty-first century there were 14,373 churches and 12,000 parish priests, 359 monasteries or nunneries and 174 hermitages, with 2,810 monks and 4,795 nuns. At present the patriarchate runs 23 bishopric centres, 148 arch-priest districts, 10,412 parishes and 2,251 subsidiaries. The missionary organizations resumed their activity and the study of religion was introduced in elementary and middle schools, with graduates of theology as teachers.

Social assistance is a constant concern of the Church; every theology faculty has a social assistance section, training personnel qualified for this kind of work. The Church has established its own social work establishments in Bucharest, Iasi and Suceava; many bishopric centres pay social workers out of their own budget.

Several more Romanian saints were canonized in 1992; in the same year, the Dacian-Roman saint cult was generally adopted in Romania. Religious feeling increased and became manifest in pilgrimages (St Paraschiva on 14 October in Iasi and St Dimitrie-Basarabov on 27 October in Bucharest) attended by approximately a million people. New Romanian saints were created during 2005.

The Romanian Church has intensified its links with other churches, especially with those in the Orthodox world. Its activity as part of the World Church Board of the European Church Conference and of other inter-Christian organizations continues. Relations with the representatives of the Jewish and Muslim traditions are maintained. The relations with the Roman Catholic Church culminated in Pope John Paul II's visit to Romania in May 1999, the first visit paid by the Pontiff to a largely Orthodox country.

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