Orthodox America

  The Cry of the New Martyrs -  Romanian Patriarch Resigns

      On January 18, the Orthodox Patriarch of Romania, Teoctist, resigned the post to which he had been elected in 1986. Mounting criticism of the Patriarch was heard ever since the overthrow of Romania's communist dictator, Nicolae Ceausescu, on December 22. During his term as Patriarch, Teoctist's effusive praise of Ceausescu, his denial of religious persecution, even as priests were being beaten and imprisoned, and his apparent support of Ceausescu's "systematization" policy under which hundreds of churches were razed and entire villages obliterated-gave the impression that he was no more than a puppet of that brutal regime, if not an active collaborator. After the execution of Ceausescu, Teoctist and other Orthodox hierarchs abruptly switched allegiances to the National Salvation Front, and began criticizing the fallen dictator. Teoctist said that under Ceausescu his hands were tied, "the slightest disobedience on the part of priests or monks was punished with long and frequent detentions.'' But it was not enough to inspire confidence in a man who had accumulated such a visibly dark record in the all too recent past, and Teoctist was publicly asked to resign.

      Unfortunately, Teoctist was not alone in casting a shadow over the Romantan Orthodox Church. Decades of shameful compromise have rendered the Romanian Orthodox Church hierarchy tragically incapable of offering badly needed leadership in a country where an estimated 70% of the population is Orthodox. The three bishops who are now leading the Church until a new patriarch is chosen are all from the "old guard", giving little hope for regeneration in the near future.

(Keston News 1/11/90 and 1/25/90)