Message by His Beatitude Daniel, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church, at the Hope in Faith Conference, organised by Ploiești Penitentiary in collaboration with the Romanian Patriarchate at the Holy Cross social, pastoral Centre in Caraiman, Bușteni, Prahova County, Wednesday, 10 May 2017:
The Hope in faith Conference, organised by the Ploiești penitentiary in collaboration with the Romanian Patriarchate at the social, pastoral centre in Caraiman, Bușteni, wishes to highlight the need to express gratitude for the sacrifice of the confessors of Orthodoxy in communist prisons in Romania.
The topic of this conference is part of the thematic manifestations of the year 2017, which was declared by the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church as Solemn Year of holy icons, of iconographers and church painters and Commemorative Year of Patriarch Justinian and the defenders of Orthodoxy during communism in the Romanian Patriarchate.
The commemoration of the defenders of Orthodoxy during communism is a moral duty to our ancestors, who in times hostile to the Church and religion, in general, have confessed their faith in the crucified and risen Christ at the cost of losing their freedom or even their lives. Moreover, the commemoration of the confessors of Orthodoxy in communist prisons is “an important testimony of what meant the power of Christian sacrifice in Romania during a time in which was pursued the removal from the people’s souls and life of the Saviour Jesus Christ in every way and by any means.”
The multitude of confessors of faith and martyrs of the communist regime always urges us not to forget their suffering for keeping a living faith and the dignity of the Romanian Christian nation in times of terror and persecution, when the demonic powers of hell have often been manifested under the guise of hatred and violence of those who tortured and tormented the inmates of communist prisons.
The light of martyrs ought to be commemorated with gratitude and reverence since it is a source of spiritual power in the life and mission of the Church today. Therefore, we learn from these confessors and martyrs of the communist regime that their love for Christ is stronger than the fear of suffering and death, and that professing Christ at the cost of their own life is a self-sacrifice or a self-offering that reflects the sacrificial love of the crucified and risen Christ, who suffers together with the martyr and strengthens him during the moments of torture. “Through the sacrifices of the sons of Romanian Christendom, Christ Himself has overcome the powers of unbelief and darkness”. In this regard, Saint Paul the Apostle says: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.” (Romans 8:35-37), that is through Jesus Christ.
We reiterate that in the ranks of the confessors of faith and martyrs of the communist regime, together with Patriarch Justinian, there are numerous hierarchs, professors of theology, students, monastics, Christian intellectuals hold a place of honour for the courage of their confession and the defense of Orthodoxy, but especially the over 1,800 Orthodox priests who were arrested and investigated, thrown into prisons, sent to work on the Danube-Black Sea Channel.
We entreat the risen from the dead Lord Jesus Christ to bless the organizers and participants in the works of the Hope in Faith Conference and congratulate them on commemorating the defenders and confessors of true faith, who through their life and sacrifice are not only luminous teachers or examples, but are also our intercessors and supporters when we strive to follow Christ in difficult or hostile circumstances to acquire salvation and eternal life in the Kingdom of the Most Holy Trinity.
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church