Romanian Orthodox Church: 14 pages of history under the leadership of His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel

Thursday, September 30, 2021, marked 14 years since the enthronement of His Beatitude Daniel as Patriarch of Romania. For the Romanian Orthodox Church, these years have been memorable, with efforts to keep pace with an ever-changing world while preserving its saving values. All this has been coordinated with pastoral insight by the actual leader of the Romanian Orthodox.

We present a summary of Patriarch Daniel’s 14 years of leadership, with their main 14 historical facts.

1. The Basilica Press Centre

In a world overwhelmed by information, Patriarch Daniel saw the presence of the Orthodox Church in the Romanian media as a primary necessity. In less than one month after being enthroned patriarch, on October 27, 2007, His Beatitude established the Basilica Press Centre, made of five components: Radio Trinitas, Trinitas TV, the Lumina publications, the Basilica news agency and the Press and Public Relations Office.

2. The Basilica Travel Agency

Another innovation within the administration of the Romanian Orthodox Church was establishing a pilgrimage agency. It met the faithful’s wish to be more than tourists at the holy places of Christianity. Now, the Romanian Orthodox Church organizes tours guided by its clerics. The Basilica Travel Agency was inaugurated in 2007.

3. 33 canonizations

In less than a year from the enthronement, four saints were proclaimed: Atanasie Todoran of Bichigiu, Vasile of Mocod, Grigore of Zagra and Vasile of Telciu were publicly proclaimed as Holy Martyrs and Confessors of Năsăud in May 2008. Other 29 canonizations followed. Here is the list of the 33 saints.

4. The renovation of the Patriarchal Palace

The building named today The Patriarchal Palace was turned into a Conference Centre after being transferred by the state to the Romanian Patriarchate on December 6, 2010. It was built at the beginning of the 20th century on a plot of land owned by the former Metropolis of Wallachia, the institutional predecessor of the Romanian Patriarchate.

It was on the very spot where, on January 24, 1859, the Electoral Assembly of Wallachia, presided by Metropolitan Nifon, voted for its unification with Moldavia by electing Prince Alexandru Ioan Cuza, who had already been elected as Prince of Moldavia.

Between March 2014 and December 2015, the historical monument was subjected to extensive consolidation and restoration works financed by the European Union, the Government of Romania and the Romanian Patriarchate. Today the palace is open to the public for guided tours.

5. The Holy and Great Council

Patriarch Daniel’s contribution the the Holy and Great Council of Crete (2016) has been recognized and appreciated throughout Orthodoxy. The Council offered not only dogmatical decisions but also practical pastoral and missionary guidance which can be further amended or improved by a future Synod of the Orthodox Church.

6. The Consecration of the National Cathedral

At the centennial anniversary of the Great Union of 1918, which made the state of Greater Romania, Patriarch Daniel fulfilled “a mandate from our ancestors”: building a National Cathedral. The consecration of the Cathedral was officiated by the Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I of Constantinople and Patriarch Daniel on November 25, 2018.

7. The social work

Although the National Cathedral remains the landmark of Patriarch Daniel’s leadership, even greater effort was made for people in difficulty. During the last 14 years, the Romanian Orthodox Church invested in its social-philanthropic work more than double the cost of the National Cathedral. In cooperation with the authorities, hundreds of social institutions and programs were established, which benefitted thousands of Romanians. Only in 2020, the money spent by the Church on philanthropy amounted to 38 million Euros.

8. Visits of the leaders of Autocephalous Churches

The visits of many leaders of Autocephalous Churches to Romania in the last 14 years prove both the good relations with the sister-Churches and Patriarch Daniel’s authority within the Orthodox world. Among them were the two visits of Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew I, in 2010 and in 2018, Patriarch Theodoros of Alexandria’s visit in 2011, Patriarch John of Antioch’s visit in 2016, Patriarch Theophilos of Jerusalem’s visits in 2011 and in 2018, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow’s visit in 2017, at the same time with the visits of Archbishop Anastasios of Albania and of Metropolitan Rastislav of the Czech and Slovak Lands.

9. Pope Francis’ visit

Another historic event of Patriarch Daniel’s first 14 years of patriarchate is Pope Francis’ visit as a pilgrim to Romania’s National Cathedral on May 31, 2019. When he left Romania, Pope Francis reminded Romanians, through a declaration offered to the press: “You have a great patriarch”.

10. Improving the Statute of the Romanian Orthodox Church

Between 2011 and 2019, under Patriarch Daniel’s leadership, the Holy Synod worked on many improvements of the Statute for the Organization and Functioning of the Romanian Orthodox Church. They were published in the Official Gazette on February 10, 2020. See here the main changes.

11. New eparchies and parishes for the Romanian diaspora

The mass migration of Romanians to Western Europe and to other parts of the world has determined the Romanian Orthodox Church to follow its faithful overseas. Patriarch Daniel established in 2007 new eparchies: the Diocese of Australia and New Zealand, the Diocese of Spain and Portugal, the Diocese of Northern Europe. In recent years Romanian Orthodox parishes have been established overseas, wherever Romanians are present in greater numbers: in Japan, in Syria, in Southern Africa, in the United Arab Emirates (Dubai).

12. Electing bishops on the vacant thrones of the Metropolis of Bessarabia

The care for the Romanian diaspora was manifested simultaneously with the care for the Romanians historically living around today’s borders of the Romanian state. An important step was the election, in 2018, of two bishops for the previously vacant diocesan thrones within the Metropolis of Bessarabia: Bishop Antonie of Bălți and Bishop Veniamin of Southern Bessarabia.

13. Promoting and supporting natural family

A remarkable accomplishment of the Church in recent years has been protecting Christian faithful and Christian values in face of the new ideologies that go against Christian morality.

Patriarch Daniel has often called upon society to protect the natural family and regularly offered advice for parents and youth. The Church has encouraged and supported families in need through various social and educational programmes.

The Referendum for Marriage organized by a lay initiative and held in 2018 offered the Church the opportunity to evaluate the degree of secularization of the Romanian society, as well as the main positions in society regarding the affirmation and protection of moral values based on faith in God and on the bimillennial Christian history of the Romanian people.

Although the results of the referendum – almost unanimously favourable to natural marriage – could not be legally validated, the Romanian Patriarchate announced that “an incomplete success calls upon more hope and more work”.

14. The Church during the Pandemic

The Romanian Orthodox Church has been constantly confronted with new challenges in the last 14 years. But it remained present in society throughout these challenges – also from the start of the Covid-19 health crisis.

In March 2020, people coming from Italy were quarantined in locations kindly offered by Romanian monasteries. There followed many fundraisers within the Church to buy medical devices, to support those in isolation. The material support actions were accompanied by technology-based prayer as a way of community-building from the distance.

Isolation, fear, denial or even rebellion slowly turned into assuming responsibility within communities. Although faced with restrictions, disease and death, Romanian Christians learned once more that suffering helps us better understand the deeper meaning of life.

By fighting the consequences of the pandemic, the clerics have been the most exposed to catching the new virus. Starting with Archbishop Pimen, many abbots, spiritual advisors and clerics moved to the Heavenly Victorious Church.

The official celebrations for Patriarch Daniel’s 14 years of service

Patriarch Daniel’s official celebration is set on September 30, the date of His Beatitude’s enthronement.

Thursday, September 30, 2021, started with the Divine Liturgy officiated at the “Bishop Gregory of Greater Armenia” Chapel of the Patriarchal Residence. The liturgy was followed around 12:00 by a Te Deum office at the Summer Altar of the “Holy Emperors Constantine and His Mother Helen” Patriarchal Cathedral.

The Thanksgiving for the 14 years of service was officiated by His Grace Varlaam of Ploiești, Patriarchal Auxiliary Bishop. Messages were transmitted at the end of the ceremony from officials.

Due to recent pandemic restrictions, the ceremony was held with a small number of participants: the patriarchal auxiliary bishops, the auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Bucharest, the permanent members of the National Church Council and the permanent members of the Bucharest Archdiocese Council.

Congratulation messages can be sent to the Patriarchal Cabinet via e-mail ([email protected]), fax (0040.21.406.71.62) or through the surface post at Str. Patriarhiei, nr. 2, RO-040161, Sector 4, București.

Photo credit: The archive

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