Letters renouncing membership of the Romanian Orthodox Church

Item

Title

Letters renouncing membership of the Romanian Orthodox Church

Description

The four images are of letters from members of the Romanian Orthodox Church community expressing their desire to leave the church.
The almost identical, handwritten, signed and dated (spring 1973) letters were sent to the Romanian Orthodox parish in Lugoj. The second and third letters were written by the same person on behalf of different family members. The authors inform the Orthodox Church in Lugoj that they are leaving the Orthodox Church. The final letter, which was written in the name of an entire family, states that if by mistake they were registered as children with the Orthodox Church they respectfully ask to be removed from the church records and with this act they declare themselves Roman Catholic believers.
According to the explanations given to the Ministry for Religious Denominations by the Orthodox Archbishop of Banat, within whose jurisdiction Lugoj was situated, the authors of the letters were former Greek Catholic believers that joined the Orthodox Church in 1948. The Archbishops communication goes on to identify the authors as older and helpless members of the former Greek Catholic Church, one of which was a bedridden former Greek Catholic priest. These letters, which were required according to the Law for the General State of the Religious Denominations, chapter 5, articles 38 and 39 that outlines the official process of leaving one denomination and joining another, were considered part of a larger campaign by the underground Greek Catholic Church aimed at the legalisation of the church by the communist regime. The letters demonstrate that the Greek Catholic community was still active in the 1970s and that its members were openly leaving the Orthodox Church in protest at the 1948 forced unification. Moreover, especially the forth letter shows that after the forceful unification between the Orthodox and the Greek Catholic Church the believers of the latter were, in some cases, registered as Orthodox without their knowledge or agreement.
The letters ended up at the secret police via the Ministry for Religious Denominations where they were received together with the Orthodox Archbishop’s letter requesting the ministry’s help in discovering who instigated this action and solutions for the problems it raised. The matter was investigated by the secret police and deemed not dangerous. The officers leading the investigation reported that the authors of the letters were old and the sole reason they had drafted them was so they could prepare for their death. The Roman Catholic Church could not or would not officiate at the funerals of nominally registered Orthodox believers and thus the authors of the letters had to officially leave the Orthodox Church even if, at least in some cases, they had never officially joined it.

The letters are part of a larger file on the Catholic problem in Romania CNSAS D69 vol 9. The documentary file regarding this matter contains a letter between the Orthodox Archbishop and the Ministry for Religious Denominations, communication between the Ministry and the secret police, the originals and several copies of the letters and a document with the results of the secret police investigation.

Subject

Communism--Romania--History--20th century
Catholic Church--Byzantine rite, Greek
Material culture--Religious aspects
Surveillance
Communism and religion
Romania. Securitatea

Creator

Anca Sincan

Source

Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității (CNSAS) D69, vol 9

Publisher

This project has received funding from the European Research Council (ERC) under the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme No . 677355

Date

1973

Contributor

Anca Sincan

Rights

Copyright for the document image belongs to CNSAS
Consiliul Național pentru Studierea Arhivelor Securității

Format

jpeg

Language

RO

Type

Text

Identifier

CNSAS D69

Coverage

20th century, Romania

Bibliographic Citation

Anca Sincan, "Letters renouncing membership of the Romanian Orthodox Church"