During the opening of The Portrait of the Romanian Village exhibition on Wednesday, His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel said that the photos displayed are not supposed only ‘to impress us emotionally, even unto tears, but to determine us to take action in favour of the village.’
‘Otherwise, we describe it beautifully and our praise becomes some kind of a memorial service for the Romanian village. But we need its revival,’ His Beatitude said Feb. 27.
The Patriarch of Romania pointed to the problems faced by people in rural areas stressing that when addressing the topic of the Romanian village it is important to avoid two extremes: ‘idealizing the village and ignoring its current reality’.
‘In a village we must see not only the poetic side, but also the profoundly human part of the suffering of the Romanian village.’
His Beatitude noted that given the problems faced by the Romanian village – depopulation, loneliness, sickness, lack of access to rural settlements, lack of current water – ‘we need a culture of responsibility and solidarity towards village people.’
‘Those who were born in the village and went to the city may not forget their native place because others have higher expectations from them,’ the Patriarch said.
‘Don’t forget your village’s church, cemetery, the heroes’ memorial cross. Don’t forget the school in our village. We, who were born in the village but moved to the city, let us not forget the poor people in our native town.’
‘Let us help them, at least at the greatest feast days, at the village’s patronal feast. Let us save some of the deserted houses existing in the village. Let us repair them, buy them, turn them into holiday houses,’ the Patriarch urged.
‘There is a great need for a helping hand for village people,’ Patriarch Daniel went on saying.
Reflecting on the problems in rural areas, His Beatitude denounced the secularized tendency ‘to impress by the negative’ in the media and photographic art.
The Patriarch added that ‘we should capture not only poverty, but also the prosperity of some villages’, such as ‘the beautiful villages’ in Bukovina, Maramures or Rucar-Bran.
When exhibiting photos of horses of the past, pictures of ‘the three times more beautiful and better-kept horses in Bukovina’ must be displayed.
‘We must not only emphasize sorrow and suffering, but also hope. We need to have a realistic look, but one full of hope,’ Patriarch Daniel added.
The Patriarch said that during the Solemn Year of the Romanian Village ‘we must cooperate with all the institutions that want to help the Romanian village and the actual peasant on the brink of poverty and loneliness.’
‘Beside prayer, we always need action in the Church.’
‘Prayer without action is incomplete, just as action without prayer can lead to some kind of self-sufficiency, a secularization of the soul,’ he said.
His Beatitude ended his speech by urging Romanians to ‘combine prayer and action, solidarity and brotherhood with the desire to effectively and efficiently help the Romanian village.’
Photography courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu