In his latest TV interview, Romanian Patriarch Daniel stressed the importance of the mission carried out by the Church, saying that ‘the Church should not be discouraged in her sacred mission, regardless of surveys.’
Asked by Andrei Victor Dochia regarding the trust Romanians place in the Church based on the latest opinion polls that indicate a sharp decline, Patriarch Daniel reported that surveys ‘are neither decisive nor normative,’ because of ‘the responsibility the Church has in society.’ The Patriarch quoted Christ’s encouragement from the Gospel of John 16:33 saying ‘In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.’
‘Our Saviour Jesus Christ,’ the Patriarch added, ‘has never said that everything turns into success, that everything goes step by step. This was proven in times of persecution, in times of all kinds of suffering. What is utterly important is continuity in the mission of the Church, because God does not always judge by figures, by how many things we have accomplished, but by how faithful we have been.’
During the interview, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel noted that the Church constantly reports to maintaining the faith steadfast.
‘Sometimes we build many churches. Some other times we could only build very few or none, or even some were demolished. The important thing is that faith was maintained. The fact that the population was faithful in a greater or smaller number has not always depended on the Church, but also on external factors uncaused by her,’ His Beatitude said.
‘Fidelity is important,’ the Patriarch explained. ‘In times of praise, criticism, persecution or freedom we must remain steadfast in our faith. This faithfulness is necessary both in family and in monastery. Beyond hardships and temptations, it is important to remain faithful to the oath or the ideal we have set. We see that in general people who come to the Church and fill the churches show faithfulness.’
The patriarch pointed to the fact that Orthodox places of worship are full of believers at the main religious services. However, there is still a need of new church buildings in Romania and the Romanian Diaspora.
‘On the one hand, polls are a criterion. We are not indifferent, nor discouraged. On the other hand, our churches are crowded with believers. Surveys would be better confirmed if churches were lacking believers. As long as churches are full of believers, it means we still need other churches for our population. In Bucharest there are few churches compared to the number of believers,’ the Primate of the Romanian Orthodox Church explained.
Since ‘the Church is the ship of salvation,’ the patriarch said, man meets with God both in clear and stormy weather.
‘The “Apostolic Constitutions”, which were written at the end of the third century and the beginning of the fourth century, report: Let the church building be long so it will be like a ship, while the greater tower that bears a cross represents the ship’s mast. This ship of salvation, recalling that the Saviour Himself often preached and performed miracles on a ship on the Sea of Galilee, shows that the Church should be a ship of salvation, the space where man meets with God in the most intimate way, both in clear and in stormy weather,’ the Patriarch of Romania added.
Patriarch Daniel brought into attention the case of Albania in which religion was banned for more than a quarter of a century. However, as the patriarch recalled, the Orthodox Church of Albania revived under the pastorship of His Beatitude Archbishop Anastasios, which highlights that ‘faithfulness is important.’
‘We do not think we have to be so frightened to abandon our mission. There have been very difficult times when the Church was forbidden as was the case of Albania, the first atheist state in the world. Yet people prayed in secret and, as Archbishop Anastasios reported, the faith has revived now. There are attempts in history to increase or to decrease the number of believers, but faithfulness is what is important,’ the Head of the Romanian Orthodox Church said concluding his answer.