2012, Romania

The Romanian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State and with Other Orthodox Churches

The Romanian Orthodox Church: Relations with the State and with other Orthodox Churches

Lucian Turcescu

In communist times the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC) was recognised by the state but firmly under state control. All prominent church figures had to gain state approval and were expected to collaborate with the secular authorities. Very few ROC leaders have confessed to collaboration, however, so this is still a live issue. One of the first to do so was Patriarch Teoctist himself, who then stepped down in 1990; but after three months, at the insistence of other members of the Synod, he came back and remained as patriarch until 2007.

Teoctist was a monastic; his successor Patriarch Daniel is a man of the world who is interested in marketing the church in contemporary society. Teoctist was pro-Russia and under his leadership the ROC tended to issue statements critical of the West; Daniel by contrast is pro-western and pro-EU. As far as church-state relations are concerned, Teoctist favoured the English model of an established church, and he and some clergy argued that bishops should be members of an upper house of parliament. Daniel is more in favour of the German model: partnership between church and state but not dependence. Previously the ROC encouraged priests to stand in elections; nowadays it discourages this on the grounds that priests, as Romanian citizens, have the right to engage politically, but not in a partisan manner by running on a particular party list. Several church leaders we have spoken to, including Daniel before he became patriarch, are not in favour of the symphonia state-church model, but prefer the idea of partnership, whereby for example the state would devolve social care to the church, giving it money to carry this out.

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2012, Romania

Romania: In the Shadow of the Past

Romania: In the Shadow of the Past

Lavinia Stan


Given Ceau?escu’s personalised rule, the local uncivic political culture and widespread corruption and intolerance, the country’s limited historical experience with democracy, and the bloody Revolution of December 1989, it is not surprising that Romania faced serious challenges in its efforts to create a stable democracy and to gain acceptance into the larger European family. After Ceau?escu and his wife were executed on Christmas Day 1989, Romanians hoped to gain the political rights and economic prosperity they had been denied for 45 years. But the weakness of civil society and the absence of organised political opposition sealed the country’s fate, as power reverted to second-echelon nomenklatura members, who rejected communism less than they rejected Ceau?escu.

The first years of postcommunist transition in Romania tell the story of the former communists establishing control over the state apparatus, intimidating political rivals, rigging elections, and appropriating state resources through shady privatisation deals. The country has yet to overcome this handicap, as its democratisation and marketisation unfolded at a slower pace than those of other countries in the region. Whereas in Central Europe the collapse of the communist regimes brought the pro-democratic opposition to government, in Romania this happened only in 1996. Whereas in those countries economic stabilisation, liberalisation and privatisation were largely completed by the mid-1990s, in Romania these processes extended almost to the end of the decade. Whereas Central European countries joined the European Union (EU) in 2004, Romania did so only in 2007. The country will need more time to catch up with the other EU member states.

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2012, Greece

Orthodox Social Service and the role of the Orthodox Church in the Greek Economic Crisis

Orthodox Social Service and the Role of the Orthodox Church in the Greek Economic Crisis

Lina Molokotos-Liederman

The Research

This work is based on research commissioned by the International Orthodox Christian Charities (IOCC) that was conducted in 2008 and 2009. Parts of this article were reworked from the final Orthodox diakonia survey report, used with permission of the IOCC. The results of this work are available at IOCC (2009) and have also been published as Molokotos-Liederman (2010).

Orthodox Diakonia

The general question that frames this presentation is the link between religion and social problems from the perspective of approaching religion as a solution. The role of faith-based NGOs is therefore particularly relevant. I will specifically focus on the Christian Orthodox approach to addressing social issues of poverty, injustice and inequality through social service. This part of the presentation is based on my work for the Orthodox diakonia survey for the IOCC.

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2012, Germany

Jews in Europe Since 1989: Focus on Germany

Jews in Europe Since 1989: Focus on Germany

Tony Lerman


Fortuitously, I’ve just received a copy of the first issue of a new English-language Jewish newspaper Jewish Voice from Germany, founded by 64-year-old Rafael Seligmann, a prominent author and journalist, showcasing the revival of Jewish life in Germany. ‘We can resume our common history’- a significant reference to the pre-Holocaust relationship between Jews and Germans. It dreams of a rebirth of German-Jewish life.

The Jewish Voice from Germany is intended as a bridge; it will connect Jews with Gentiles, Germany with the world. We want to communicate the long history that Jews and Germans share with each other. Our paper intends to make the dream of a new togetherness a reality.

Also fortuitously in same first issue, a counter-view from Moshe Zimmerman, a historian of German Jewish history whose parents, German Jews from Hamburg, went to Palestine in 1935:

There will be no re-birth of German Jews. Jews in Germany have no chance of becoming a decisive factor again in the development of the Jewish religion or history. They cannot compete either with the largest Jewish diaspora, in the United States, or with Israel.

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