Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Death of a Patriarch

Romania is in disorder... at least the church minded part of the population, which is considerably larger than in Sweden. Any comparision with Sweden is unlikely to give much insight thugh, regarding the influtental position not only in the contemporary stuggle for the souls but also in the national spiritual tradition that the swedish free churches play. The relative dominant position of BOR (Biserica Ortodoxa Romanesc - the romanian orthodox church) is not threatened, but on the other hand there is a greek-catholic church based in the western parts of the country that serves as a minority partner.

The reason for the disorder is the death of the patriarch Teoctist, wich has served as a head for the romanian orthodox church, which also includes romanians in the republic of Moldova. He is honored with the funeral of a statesman, even the Vatican sends representatives. During forty days the church will have as it's highest official the patriarch Daniel, coming from Moldova (the church region Moldova includes both the Romanian eastern part and the republic of Moldova). The metropolit of Moldova traditionally becomes the patriarch for the romanian church and Teoctist as well was a moldovan.

After 40 days the highest church counsil will decide in the matter and name the next romanian patriarch. This time also other regional leaders want to be considered candidates, claiming the need of reform, and supported with other voices, from also outside the church that consider Teoctist's eventual cooperation with Ceaucescus communist state reason to doubt his moral stance and to discuss the church hierarchy.

What makes the matter so intersting, for me, and for much wider circles in romania than the regular church goers is that the hierarchy if the orthodox church always has been a national political question as well as a question about faith. A good example is that the national liberation of Bulgaria in the 19th century began with the establishment of a national bulgarian church, independent not only from Turkish rule, but also, and as important, from greek rule, even though there are no theological differences separating the greek and bulgarian churches.

Is the debate about who is a possible candidate a sign of a regional consciusness within Romania? That Wallachians don't want to be represented by someone from Iasi, at least not before making their voices heard? I think this might be the case, and the reason that it immediately caught my attention is that this is exactly what I've been searching for in this region... From the first day it seemed very understandible towards the historical background, but still misplaced in the search for the future, that moldovans in general call them selves Romanians or Russians when they in reality live far from the reality in both Bucuresti and Moscow. Maybe this is slowly passing away... and the life of the moldovans become more important than the incomprehensible cold war with Transnistria. If the debate around Patriarch Teoctists funeral and succesion in some way signalizes this it's a very good sign.

The other debate - that about his moral stance during Ceaucescus times is of course also interesting... These issues about how to deal with the history lie at the heart of East European identity I think. And questions about how to deal with collaborators with the dictatorship, that collaborated in times when resistance meant death are never easy. Who can with anout hesitation say that they wouldn't do the same thing (or didn't) .

On the other hand, there were people that took a stand and rather were persecuted than giving in to death and lies... Couldn't we expect form our leaderss to at least do this? And are the responsibilities bigger the more influence you have? We must remember that to be the patriarch is one of the most influental positions you can have in an orthodox country.

Romania is a country that has done less than most other countries in the process of dealing with history, and maybe this debate also reveals that much is still undone, many wounds that time wil not heal alone, but where the truth has to come out before they can heal.

I'm not at all informed in these issues, but I'm trying to be... and there are still some 36 days I think before the new patriarch is elected. It's possible that I will have much to say before this date ;). Until then we have to cope with Daniel ;)


Anonymous said...
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Maladets! said...

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