New Patriarch of Romania; Fr. Roberson profile

His Holiness Patriarch TEOCTIST reposed at the end of July. The new Patriarch, DANIEL, has been Metropolitan of Moldavia. In Romania the Church is divided into several provinces, like the Byzantine Empire of old, one of them being Moldavia – not to be confused with the former Soviet republic now officially known as Moldova, next-door – and its Metropolitan is chief among the Ruling Hierarchs of its dioceses. The Patriarch in turn is Ruling Hierarch of Bucharest, the capital, Metropolitan of its province, and Primate of the national Church, as well as of its overseas jurisdictions.

The Patriarchate’s official news release in English provides a glimpse into how one Autocephalous Orthodox Church chooses its primate. That day I read elsewhere that the procedure was taking all day and into the night, amid church services and meetings. (Also note that the Romanian Church doesn’t put monastics’ and bishops’ family names in parentheses as do many others!)

Their official curriculum vitae for him reflects his appointment as locum tenens of the patriarchal throne in the period between Teoctist’s death and his own election as patriarch, and hasn’t been updated as of this writing. The locum tenens – usually already an active Ruling Hierarch elsewhere in the Local Church – serves as interim ruling hierarch there also during a vacancy, so a diocese is never left without one. (Here in America, OCA Metropolitan HERMAN is currently serving not only as OCA Primate and Ruling Hierarch of their Diocese of Washington and New York, but also locum tenens of the late Archbishop KYRILL‘s dioceses of Pittsburgh and the Bulgarian Diocese, until a successor to Kyrill is elected.) I note that the whole title for his Metropolitanate is “Moldavia and Bukovina”: I’ve read elsewhere that the region of Bukovina is a somewhat ethnically diverse place, including some Orthodox Ukrainians and Carpatho-Russians I believe, all under the archpastoral supervision of the local Ruling Hierarchs of the Patriarchate of Romania. In fact, it seems Ukrainians in Romania have their own overlapping ethnic vicariate under the Patriarchate of Romania. (Go here, then scroll up a couple clicks for its official listing [in Romanian].)

This seems to be a secular media article about Daniel’s election, with a little more background. The country still seems to be dealing with fallout from the Communist era.

This is the same Metropolitan Daniel of Moldova who figured somewhat humorously in English journalist Victoria Clark’s Why Angels Fall, her travelogue through space and time / flirtation with Orthodoxy to try to get at the roots of the Yugoslav and Chechen wars she’d previously covered as a newspaper reporter. Over a community dinner presided at by Daniel after Liturgy one day, she asked him to comment on the “clash of civilizations” thesis that apparently took some parts of the world by storm in the late ’90s as a result of Samuel Huntington’s book of that title. (I was immersed in grad school at the time, so I didn’t notice it! Apparently one of Huntington’s ‘fault lines’ is between traditionally-Orthodox Europe and the rest of the continent – historically a line drawn right through Croatia and Bosnia 1,000 years ago by the East-West church split.) Daniel was inspired to respond to her in front of the whole room, placing her momentarily in fear for her safety! But Daniel was very concerned about an exaggerated emphasis on difference between East and West in Europe, and as the secular article linked above points out, is keen to collaborate with Europe’s other religious leaders to ‘revive’ Christianity on the continent. (Although Andrew Greeley’s sociological research calls into question the popular ‘secularizing Europe’ thesis….) In fact, a previous edition of the patriarchate’s website touted the idea of their approach to Christianity being a sort of Latin Orthodoxy, due to the descent of their language from Latin, and the traditional descent of their people, in significant part, from colonists from Rome itself. This actually comes out a bit in this piece related to my secondary topic for this post, a 1993 profile of the Latin priest behind this occasionally-helpful ‘Brief Survey of the Eastern Christian Churches.’ It turns out he did his doctorate at the Vatican’s “Oriental Institute” on the ecclesiology (theology of the Church) of well-known Orthodox Fr. Dumitru Staniloae of Romania!

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