Ciofliceni, Popesti-Leordeni, Otopeni, Domesti, Potlogi--these are some
of the Romanian villages already razed under President Ceausescu's villainous
policy of "systemization". If fully implemented, it will result in the
destruction of over half the country's 13,000 plus villages by the year 2000.
Three hundred others are slated for redevelopment as 'agro-industrial
complexes', where peasants will be relocated into multi-storey apartment
buildings with communal kitchens and a resident concierge/ informer. One Western
diplomat, who visited the site of a village where bulldozers were already at
work, heard desperate pleas from inhabitants to stop the destruction of their
birthplace. Some were destroying their own houses to salvage building materials
and winter fuel before the demolition squads arrived.
Ostensibly, the reason behind the 'systemization' is to increase the
amount of arable land in order to overcome Romania's present inability to feed
its population: bread, flour and sugar are rationed; vegetables and fruit
expensive - when available at all; dairy products are unavailable even for
children; in winter these shortages are made even more difficult to bear by
government shut-downs of gas and electricity---even in freezing weather.
Experts, however, agree that 'systemization' will only exacerbate this crisis.
The real reason behind Ceausescu's madness is not economics. As one visitor to
Romania last year wrote:
"...the sufferings of the Romanians are now compounded by a new
despair as they realize that they are about to lose communication with their
past forever....Romania is being purged of its historical identity"
(Jessica Douglas-Home in Frontier, Jan.Feb., 1988).
To understand just how deliberate this purge is, one has only to compare
Ceausescu's ideology with the ideology which lies at the root of Romania's
At the Third Congress of Political Education and Sodalist Culture, held
in Bucharest in August, 1987, Ceausescu gave an opening speech in which he
stated that "without political education and advanced culture, the people
remain prisoners of prejudice, mysticism and obscurantism....Greed, egoism,
mysticism and obscurantism must be firmly combatted..." In a word,
Ceausescu is one of the most militantly atheistic leaders in the Communist Bloc.
His atheist platform was even more clearly spelled out in a front-page article
which appeared the week preceding the Congress in the Communist Party daily, Scinteia:
'The reconstruction of human values, in the process of building a new
life, necessarily presupposes the overcoming of the state of dependence on
religious ideas about the world..." (quoted in KNS #284; 8/24/87).
Historically, Romania's culture is deeply Christian. 'Systemization'
means the obliteration of thousands of churches, thousands of cemeteries. And
not only in villages are they being destroyed. Since 1977, at least 20
churches---many of them historic Orthodox churches dating as far back as the
17th century--have been demolished in Bucharest as part of a vast redevelopment
scheme. (A list of these churches was compiled by the Romanian Section of Radio
Free Europe and reproduced by Keston News, 11/5/87.) Seven other churches have
been either partially destroyed, moved or screened off by highrises so as not to
be seen from the new Victory of Socialism
Boulevard which now dominates the city center, a city once famed as an
More recently, Keston reports, "a decision has been taken to proceed
with a large-scale water project which will involve the flooding of the cemetery
of the famous Cernica monastery [revived by a disciple of St. Paisius
Velichkovsky in the 18th century and the resting place of St. Callinicus of
Romania]. The monastery complex, which is a few miles east of Bucharest, is
situated on the edge of a lake, which is to be enlarged. In addition to the
cemetery, where many famous Romanians are buried, one of the monastery's
churches which is situated on low lying land is also threatened...
Looking across the lake at Cernica Monastery
"Meanwhile, a new hotel has been built on the site of an 18th century
monastery at Pantelimon, near Bucharest. Most of the monastery's
buildings--including the church--were razed in 1985, with the remaining
buildings altered beyond recognition. The hotel was opened towards the end of
last year. The project has received extensive coverage in the press, although
the fact that the hotel has been built on the site of an old monastery is never
mentioned..." (KNS 1/19/89).
The situation is tragic indeed and we must pray to God to bring it to an end. As Fr. Gheorghe Calciu wrote to us earlier this year, "It is not only the Christians who are suffering but the whole nation is under terror and pressure." What can be done? Express your concern to your Congresssman; pressure from the West may force Ceausescu to back down. Further, Fr. Gheorghe appeals for financial support of the Romanlan Faith and Freedom Coalition which regularly sends food parcels into Romania, especially for the monks and nuns. It uses private persons as carriers and is a reliable way of alleviating the constant struggle to obtain food, a struggle which has come to dominate the lives of se many Romanians.