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INTERVIEW

Author: Patriarch (Patriarhul) Daniel
September 3, 2009
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Unofficial translation of excerpts from Patriarch Daniel’s interview granted to the magazine ‘For Unity’ (nr. 3/2009) and made available on the Romanian Patriarchate’s website, Basilica.ro on June 17, 2009.

3. What are the current issues in world Orthodoxy and what are the local Orthodox Churches undertaking to resolve them? In Your Beatitude’s opinion, what measures need to be taken today with a view to Orthodox unity?

The continuation and intensification of inter-Orthodox relations constitutes an essential element. We need more pan-Orthodox assemblies, with a rythmic regularity; I feel that we need not meet only when a primate falls passes to The Lord, or when a new Patriarch is installed. In this sense, we have more than once proposed that the Primates of all the Autocephalous Churches gather once every three years, not for anniversaries or commemorative meetings, but in working sessions, to show that in Orthodoxy synodal assembly is an exercise of fraternal communion and of co-responsibility, not on a national level alone, but universal. We must affirm both the freedom of autocephaly as well as the co-responsibility of pan-Orthodox synodal assembly. At the same time, a more concrete and organized manifestation of pan-Orthodox solidarity could be applied, through reciprocal assistance, since Orthodox Churches exist in widely differing situations from the economic and social points of view. A periodic consultation and a more efficient cooperation would give Orthodoxy more credibility on both the national as well as international stage. A similar initiative was proposed by the Romanian Orthodox Church in 2005, when his All-Holiness Bartholomew, the Ecumenical Patriarch, was present in Bucharest, and on other occasions. No one is against this in principle, but in reality the exercise of pan-Orthodox synodal assembly with rythmic regularity is more difficult due to an excessive polarization between a temptation to understand the Primate as hegemony and the temptation to understand autocephaly as autoarchy [independence] or self-sufficiency. Thus the need for clear operational rules for rythmic (periodic) pan-Orthodox synodal assemblies on the one hand, and for the relation of pan-Orthodox synodal assemblies between Primates with the synodal assemblies within the local Churches. More precisely put, we refer to the connection between the Primatial pan-Orthodox synod and the local autocephalous synod. At one and same time there must be avoided the temptation of a Primate with universal jurisdiction and of an autoarchic autocephalism, forasmuch as both are contrary to Trinitarian communion.

We consider  that these scheduled, periodic pan-Orthodox synodal assemblies ought to be organized in various countries, not always the same location; according to practical availability, in order that they also be missionary events, and manifestations of fraternity among the sister Orthodox Churches. We need a more intense rhythm of consultation and cooperation. In this sense the creation of a periodical publication would be required, of a pan-Orthodox pastoral, missionary and liturgical institute, which would cultivate a pan-Orthodox awareness and to stimulate practical pan-Orthodox cooperation.

4. Man’s religious and national sentiments have a settled effect in defining their identity and the formation of their spiritual personality and dignity. It happens, however, that the national awareness represses the others and obstructs the complete development of the spiritual personality. How can we conquer these contradictions, being that it ultimately results in obstructing Orthodox unity?

We do not believe that the sincere national sentiments of a people could harm Orthodox unity. The sentiment of belonging to a people, with a particular language and culture, is a natural one, given by God, while the country in which one has been born represents something particular for every person. We cannot recant our national identity, for this would mean our renouncing our parents and forebears. In our instance, the Romanian people was born Christian, of the Dacians and the Romans, in other words we were baptized slowly, gradually, while it was being formed as a nation in history, beginning in the 2nd century A.D., the result of the preaching of the Holy Apostles Andrew and Philip. Our national dignity, belonging to an Orthodox Christian nation, speaking Romanian, was the principal tie among the Romanians in the medieval principalities on one side and the other of the Carpathian arch, which assured the resistance of Orthodoxy in the face of the migrations of so many warlike pagan peoples.

Our proximity to the Slavic peoples who came to Europe later (7th Century) and Christianized in the 9th and 10th centuries, explains some of the Slavic influences among the Romanians. On the other hand, the deformation of the natural national sentiment into an attitude of superiority vis-a-vis other nations, along with the tendency to dominate over others creates, by way of reaction, a defensive isolationist nationalism. The forced incorporation of peoples within supra-national structures, and the abolition of linguistic and cultural identity under the pretext of unity creates tensions and resentment that are hard to cure. Wholesome Orthodoxy does not render ethnic diversity into uniformity but rather puts it into communion, that is, into that unity that cultivates the liberty of the person and of nations in The One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. Through this, the true Church distinguishes itself from the totalitarian political empire. The Kingdom of Christ is the kingdom of liberty and of holy love. Yet holy love is a peaceable love, that is liberated of egotistical passions, both individual and collective. For this reason no ideology of power can take the place of a profound spirituality based on repentance (conversion), humility and fraternal love.

6. How does the Romanian Orthodox Church succeed in putting into practice its activities beyond its borders? What is specific to, and what specifically affects, the life of the Romanian diaspora? What kind of challenges do they meet with?

Every autocephalous Orthodox church has the pastoral duty to care for those of its faithful departed beyond the country’s borders and which, as spiritual mother, cannot abandon them or hand them over to another.  In this sense, in conformity with its new organizational and functional Constitution, the Romanian Orthodox Church, taking into account the new socio-political and economic realities in which its emigrant faithful live, has founded various eparchies organized into metropolitanates, according to the density of Romanians in the various regions of the world, in order to pastor to those who find themselves outside the borders of Romania. The Romanians in diaspora, established permanently or temporarily abroad, gather especially around a parish priest, to whom they not only discuss their sins in confession in their mother tongue, but their daily problems as well. A closer tie has been observed in regard to the Church among Romanian Orthodox who are far from their homeland, and their relatives at home, which only confirms the need for an intense pastorship and a close tie with the Mother Church.

Thus, the Romanian Orthodox Church sends priests into the diaspora to uphold them spiritually and materially, as means allow. The Romanian Orthodox faithful in diaspora especially confront a lack of Orthodox places of liturgical worship in which to participate in their services. Construction of new Orthodox churches requires considerable financial resources and thus, Romanian Orthodox resort to renting churches belonging to other Christian confessions a few hours on Sundays (Catholic, Protestant or Anglican).

In connection with the issue at hand, the Holy Synod of our Church has resolved that the first Sunday after the Feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God be dedicated to the Romanian emigrant, as a proof of the Romanian Orthodox Church’s abiding pastoral care regarding the Romanians departed abroad for work or study, but who come to Romania to pass their vacation in the month of August. The prayers for the emigrants and conversations with them are most useful. Certainly the need exists for a more intense Orthodox cooperation in the diaspora among the hierarchs of the differing jurisdictions, but in this phase the links of emigrants with the Mother Church is paramount, for maintaining their cultural, ethnic and Orthodox ecclesial identity.

4 Comments to “INTERVIEW”


  1. Matt Says:

    It seems that the Patriarch believes that “in this phase [at this time] the links of emigrants with the Mother Church is paramount for maintaining their cultural, ethnic and Orthodox ecclesial identity.” Does he not understand that there have been many streams of emigrants to the New World over time? Are there no differences between them? Does he not realize that most of these people no longer even speak Romanian and are now fully integrated Americans whose families built the Orthodox churches they still attend? Do 3rd -4th generation descendants of Romanian emigrants need the same ethno-religious overlording as the Romanian Patriarch wants for new emigrants to North America? Do these new emigrants not have an ROEA Episcopate awaiting them here with Orthodox churches and missions already started in many North American cities by the previous generations of Romanians emigrating here? Does anyone here really want foreign ethno-religious overlording anyway?


  2. Ron Muresan Says:

    Patriarch Daniel’s words belittle past generation Romanians and present generation ones who have built countless churches across North America, starting with the 1904 Regina, Canada cathedral. The Patriarch acts like his sorry emigrants are wandering around, with nothing to do but rent deserted Catholic church buildings! Doesn’t he know that in many North American cities we are into our second and sometimes even third church, continuously expanding.

    His words are also hurtful to all of us who have been collecting monies in many of our own parishes over the years, and giving these funds to establish and help support new missions all over North America. We could have used these monies locally but instead we wanted to help new missions in cities without ROEA presence. Also, how about all the mission fundraising done by auxiliary organizations like ARFORA, ARCOLA, the American and Canadian Brotherhoods, AROY? All of us were busily helping our Romanian brothers and sisters to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars, and their growth and success were the sweetest thanks we could ever have wanted. I know with what outpouring of love my parish collected, putting on “Mission Sunday banquets”, all to help support new missions until they could get on their feet. But in His Beatitude’s eyes, apparently, this type of activity wasn’t enough even to merit an honorable mention. How sad.

    In a nutshell, the good and holy work done here by oldcomers and newcomers don’t deserve recognition; except in heaven, which is where it all counts. So be it. The sweet thing is, we’ve been doing it for each other all along, and for Him. I speak as a past president of AROY, and hopefully for those who have worked for and donated to a Holy Ideal. We thought (I thought) it was a feather in our caps as Romanians. Be that as it may, it was indeed all for Him, and that makes it OK. Let’s hold on to that. Let’s remember that every dollar received in doing the Lord’s work will be accounted for with the same zeal and spirit in which it was given.


  3. George Cantor Says:

    +Daniel says that it’s paramount for every autocephalous Orthodox church to “care for those of its faithful departed [their respective country] and … as spiritual mother [it] cannot abandon them or hand them over to another [Orthodox church].” Given that statement, I now can clearly see that my salvation is not in the hands of the Lord, but rather in +Daniel’s concern for me as a member of his Diaspora! What about our autocephalous OCA? Are these people for real?


  4. Constantin Aurel Ardeleanu Says:

    Amen Ron!
    Does +Daniel not realize we have our Mother Church, she is the OCA, where the ROEA should not only stay, but should look to actively fully integrate with the OCA.


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PRAYER OF ST. EPHREM

O Lord and Master of my life,
leave me not with the spirit of laziness,
of despair, of domination, or idle words.

Rather, give me, your servant, the spirit of integrity,
of humility, of patience, and of love.

Thus, Lord, grant me the wisdom to see my own faults,
and not condemn my brother;

for You are blessed, now and forever. Amen.



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Our Father, who are in heaven,
hallowed be Your name.

Your kingdom come.
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Give us this day
our daily bread,
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