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Alina Mungiu-Pippidi, The Ruler and the Patriarch: The
Romanian Eastern Orthodox Church in Transition, 7 E.
Eur. Const. Rev. 85 (1998)

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The Ruler and the Patriarch:
The Romanian Eastern
Orthodox Church in Transition
Alina Mungiu-Pippidi

Article 29

ne might imagine that the current turmoil
(1)Freedom of thought, opinion, and religious beliefs may not be
of Romanian politics-with continuous restricted Inany form whatsoever. No one may be compelled to
disputes inside the governing coalition of embrace an opinion or religion contrary to Is own convictions.
Christian Democrats, Liberals, and Social Democrats-
(2)Freedom of conscience Is guaranteed; it must be manifested hi a
would suffice. But this spring a leading figure in the
spirit of tolerance and mutual respect
Romanian Eastern Orthodox Church has managed to
add to the volatile mix, seizing the public's attention for (3)AD relgions shah be free and organized Inaccordance with their
several weeks. Archbishop Bartolomeu Anania of Cluj own statutes, under the terms laid down by law.
proposed that the Holy Synod (the ruling council of (4) Any forms, means, acts, or actions of religious enmity shall be
the Orthodox Church) endorse the political involve- prohibited Inthe relationships among the cults.
ment of priests, not only allowing but even urging
(5)Religious cults shall be Independent from the State and shii
them to become electoral advisers to the public.
enjoy support from It,Including the facmtation of religious asss-
Journalists, leading politicians, and leaders of opinion tance Inthe army, Inhospitals, prisons, homes, and orphanages.
were divided over the archbishop's proposal. Ordinary
people interviewed in the streets by television networks (6)Parents or legal tutors have the right to ensure, Inaccordance
expressed surprise and were unanimous in the opinion with their own convictions, the education of the minor children
whose responsibility devolves on them.
that the Church should stick to religious affairs.
Conspiracy theorists-and there are many in The Constitution of the Republic of Romania (1991)
Romania-declared that the networks' presentation of
the issue was merely an attempt to discredit the ruled, had been ritually blessed at every mass-the
Church, which, according to opinion polls, is the most Church discovered that it could do even better in post-
popular institution in Romania. communist than in communist times. After first
While Anania's proposal was in the public's eye, apologizing on television to the Romanian people for
the State University of Bucharest witnessed the eruption his long and open support of Ceausescu, Patriarch
of a strange war between the Association of Christian Teoctist retreated to a monastery, leaving a revolution-
Students (ACS) and a group of philosophy students who ary body of anticommunist prelates and Orthodox
had asked the university's senate to ban religious activi- laymen to choose a successor. After a month of medi-
ties from the campus and to reject the proposal to build tation and prayer, however, and with the revelation
a new church in the garden shared by the schools of law that he could not be deposed without his own con-
and philosophy. The university senate initially passed the sent, according to Church law, the patriarch decided
required resolution and then, in response to a threat that to keep his position and return to his customary place
the names of those who voted against the new church at the right hand of the new leader, then-president Ion
would be revealed, reversed its decision and lifted the Iliescu. Like Ceausescu, Iliescu had been a Communist
ban. For a week the university was covered with posters Party leader, one who had had the honesty to declare
supporting both sides of the issue. ACS protesters pro- himself an atheist. This did not prevent both ruler and
claimed that communist-era religious persecution had patriarch from jointly blessing all of the newborn
returned. In short, among countless political conflicts, democratic institutions-Parliament, the government,
recurrently unstable governments, and the campaign to the new Day of the Nation, the new national anthem,
join NATO and the EU, the place of the Orthodox and so on. State television, which was prohibited for
Church in the new political order has now surfaced as years from showing any religious material, also rushed
yet another serious issue. to create a new department, called "Spiritual Life" and
Archbishop Anania's proposal did not come as a to charge it with producing eight hours a week of
surprise, however. In the aftermath of the initial shock religious-in fact, Christian Orthodox-programming
of Ceausescu's overthrow-whose name, while he for its two channels.

This otherworldly zeal reached a political climax respect, and grants religious sects autonomy vis-a-vis
when the new Parliament building was inaugurated the state. It also requires the state to facilitate the pres-
and consecrated during a short religious ceremony. ence of religion in state institutions, such as peniten-
The building, known as the House of the People- tiaries, the army, and hospitals. But the Constitution
the second largest building in the world after the has changed little of the traditional subordination, via
Pentagon-had previously stood as a symbol of the Ministry of Religions, of the Church to the state.
Ceausescu's megalomania, until the postcommunist The Ministry of Religions has remained the manager
leaders determined that it was fit to become a symbol of the budget-the state budget being the main source
of democracy and transferred the Chamber of of priests' wages-although it did relinquish the power,
Deputies from its historical site next to the Patriarchy held in communist times, to appoint the patriarch, who
to this new location. In order to make room for the is now elected by the Synod.
House of the People, Ceausescu, in the late 1980s, Despite the Church's emancipation from state
had ordered the complete demolition of the oldest appointments and review, the new constitutional
part of Bucharest, including churches surviving from arrangements have been deplored by Orthodox
the late Middle Ages. At that time, only one priest analysts. Dan Ciachir, an independent writer who pro-
joined the few dissidents who had dared protest this duces a weekly editorial on Christian Orthodox topics
barbarism. After consideration was given to blowing for the BBC Radio Romanian Service, complains that
up this fine piece of totalitarian architecture in 1990, the 1991 Constitution grants less importance to the
it was symbolically reconstituted, with a little Church Church than the former democratic Constitution of
blessing, as a symbol of the postcommunist regime's 1923, which considered Eastern Orthodoxy the "pre-
accommodation to its communist past. Thus was vailing" and peculiarly "Romanian" religion, in relation
achieved again that societal continuity characteristic to other religions. "The draft of the Law on Cults also
of Romanian history. does not provide a special status for the Orthodox
The accommodation suited almost everyone. It Church but seeks to treat it equally with other churches.
suited the Church, unable to purge itself of the Even the use of the term 'cults' instead of religions is
collaborationists who still dominate its hierarchy, and inherited from communist times," he points out. Upset
it suited the postcommunist state, severely attacked by by this equal treatment, the Romanian Orthodox
anticommunists and in serious need of having the Church in 1994 declared itself the "National Church."
national Church by its side in order to demonstrate Ciachir considers this a sign of political realism on the
visibly the difference between the present and the part of the Church: "After an initial attitude of obedi-
communist past. It suited the 88 percent of ence toward authorities after 1990, apparent not in the
Romanians who declared themselves Orthodox in a whole Church but due to a few impure collabora-
1991 census, of whom only 8 percent attend church tionists, the Church realizes it can take action on its
services regularly, the rest having grown accustomed own. And we may speak of a real, national Church, as
to the Church being a merely nominal presence in the 1991 census showed-this is a reality the state either
their lives. Only a few intellectuals, and even fewer hesitated to recognize or chose to ignore."
priests, showed any discontent. Since they were divid-
ed among themselves (Christian fundamentalists on one A philistine agenda
side, and leftist atheists on the other), they wielded These few words of Ciachir say a great deal about the
little influence in the new dispensation after 1990. two major temptations that the Romanian Church
has faced over the centuries. One is its transformation
The legal framework into an adjunct of the state and the use of its spiritual
Although eager to gain additional legitimacy from influence for political purposes. The second is what
their alliance with the Church, the post-1989 leader- theologian Teodor Baconsky calls "ethnocentric mes-
ship was nevertheless the product of a secular and athe- sianism." "In the post-Byzantine East," argues
ist communist society. When the 1991 Constitution was Baconsky, now Romanian ambassador to the Vatican,
ratified, the Orthodox Church was not even mentioned. "the Mount Athos monastic republic could never
Article 29, on freedom of conscience, guarantees free- match the Vatican. No monarchs, except the Russian
dom of religion, insists upon tolerance and mutual czars, ever rose again to the power that the Basileus or


emperor had in Constantinople. The disappearance of congress of a Protestant denomination to be held in
the imperial idea and the dissolution of the Byzantine Romania in 1996, even though Romanian authorities
hierarchy led to an overemphasis on self-determination had previously granted their permission.
and leadership of the national churches. To resist This agenda speaks for itself. While genuine
Islamization, the Churches accepted the Balkan tribal religious life is going on quietly and out of sight in
logic, which they fostered, by identifying with the both the old and new congregations, many created
national ideals preached by nineteenth-century after 1990, which attracted hundreds of young people,
Freemason patriots." It is true that, by 1948, the the newspapers and television show only the most vis-
reunion of Eastern patriarchs had declared this Church ible and public face of the Church. And one must
nationalism a form of "philistinism" and a "heresy," believe that this public aspect, expressed, as it is, by the
but this had little practical effect. Today, the two his- highest prelates, is also the official part. Leftist intellec-
toric temptations can still be identified in the public tuals currently denounce the Church as the main
life of the Church. As a confession with little involve- opponent of Romania's progress toward democracy or
ment in social life-historically, Eastern Christianity is at least the most retrograde contributor. But while the
a creed for hermits, not for missionaries, and accusation may be too general, there is little risk in
eremitism remains a mass phenomenon in Romania saying that most of those in the highest echelons of the
and in other Orthodox countries-the Church should Church hierarchy perceive true democratization-that
in theory be little noticed in public life. However, the is, more than just formal, procedural democracy-as a
religious revival, beginning in 1990 and reinforced in threat to their privileges and prejudices.
1996, when the Christian Democrats won both the
parliamentary and presidential elections, has made the From Byzantine tradition to contemporary
Church a constant public voice and a strong advocate Christian democracy
for religious solutions to various civil issues. It matters The relationship of mutual dependency between
little that a few initiates consider this to be "heresy." Church and state is embodied in the history of Eastern
The list of issues in which the Church has Christianity. The Byzantine tradition consists, in part,
involved itself is a long one indeed, and includes a in the political subordination of the patriarchs to the
campaign to introduce compulsory religion courses in rulers: the inheritors of Byzantium's empire, local
elementary-school curricula; the refusal to return the Balkan princes, who by luck and ambition kept alive the
property of the Greek Catholic Church, seized by the Byzantine spirit, continued this tradition. Although sub-
communist state and given to the Orthodox Church; servient in principle to the patriarch of Constantinople,
persistent opposition to any visit by Pope John Paul II to the Orthodox Church was in fact autonomous and sub-
Romania; constant criticism of European organizations ordinated only to the secular rulers-and the few
which insist that the "Romanian tradition" of criminal- attempts at emancipation ended badly. In exchange for
izing homosexuality be abandoned; seeking from the the full support and submission of the Church,
state financing for a gigantic, 15,000-seat "Cathedral of Romanian princes granted protection, endowed
the Nation" to be built in the heart of Bucharest; a fur- monasteries, and built places of worship. The Eastern
ther request to finance Orthodox churches to be placed Orthodox Church never developed an internal profes-
in purely ethnic Hungarian counties in southern sional bureaucracy like that of the Catholic Church.
Transylvania, where there are no Orthodox communi- Neither was it much involved in social life, remaining a
ties; refusing to give up the churches won by Greek church dedicated to prayer and spiritual, not earthly,
Catholics in court, combined with public threats ends. (See Serban Nicolae Tanasoca, "La Construction
against them, including a giant rally, led by Bishop europ~enne et le byzantinisme des pays de 'Est," in
Anania, meant to show that the Church is above the New Europe College Yearbook [Bucharest, 1994]).
law; blocking a law intended to regulate church institu- The Enlightenment and the access to power of
tions and the relations among sects because of an the revolutionary elites of 1848 changed the situation
unwillingness to acknowledge the equal status of other radically. In 1863, the Masonic prince Alexandru Cuza
religions or to come to an agreement with the Greek took title to all Church lands in the United
Catholic Church, returning at least a few of the church- Principalities, which had been granted by previous
es seized in 1948; and preventing the international rulers over the centuries to the Patriarchy of

SPRING 1998 87
Constantinople or to the Mount Athos monasteries American immigrant Father Calciu, are among those
and which represented a quarter of the territory's total who strongly oppose opening the Securitate files of
land. In exchange, Cuza put priests on the state's pay- priests. As sympathizers with the Iron Guard (the
roll. Both he and the Hohenzollern dynasty, which Romanian interwar fascist movement), they share a
succeeded him, continued to appoint patriarchs and common past with those who later collaborated with
make use of the Church whenever necessary. In need the communists. Many priests sympathized with the
of a prime minister to participate in his coup d'6tat of Iron Guard, whose essence lies in its Eastern Christian
1938, when he outlawed political parties, King Charles fundamentalism and nationalism rather than in its
II chose to name Patriarch Miron Cristea premier. other typically fascist traits. Both Anania and Calciu
Rediscovered and cherished by the Church after 1990, have, in this regard, similar histories of endorsing
Cristea was a student of poetry with quite earthly ambi- undemocratic political movements-fascism at first,
tions. "Today the monster with 29 electoral heads was and communism later on. Younger prelates have only
destroyed," he said in his inaugural speech, referring to a communist, and probably Securitate, past.
the 29 political parties, "which turned everyone against Anania's demand for priestly political involvement
everyone to the ruin of the whole country. Today every- concerns not only the right of clergy to advise their
one's vision became clear, and we all understand that our community how to vote in elections. It also includes
salvation comes from His Majesty." Cristea is little the idea of having them in Parliament again, as Charles
remembered for this denunciation of political pluralism. II in his mockery of democracy had once arranged it,
Rather, official theologians like Baconsky indulge them- with his lifetime senators. This corporatist model is
selves with the idea that the Romanian Church was still tempting today. Bishop Gherasim of Suceava
exempted from the political adventures that the Catholic expressed his basic outlook when, in support of
Church and Protestant churches faced. (See Teodor Anania's proposal, he stated that: "The Church was
Baconsky, "Political Orthodoxy" in Political Doctrines- actually never separated from the state. Where the
Dotrinepolitice, ed. Alna Mungiu-Pippidi [Iasi, 1998].) ruler was, there the prelate was, too." The formulation
The cooperative relationship between the recalls a common expression of the Byzantine
Church and the state continued during the communist tradition, reflecting the customary attitude of the
era. In his monograph on the East European commu- Church in automatically endorsing secular power.
nist parties, Ghita Ionescu correctly pointed out that Other prelates were less enamored with tradition
the Orthodox Church in Romania was less opposed to and more aggressive. "Many Transylvanian priests
communism than were other denominations. While endorsed Christian Democrats explicitly in the 1996
Greek Catholic prelates were imprisoned without elections," Metropolitan Daniel of Moldova-the next
exception and their churches confiscated in a general patriarch-explained. "And now they feel the present
battle against Catholicism-also raging in the Soviet regime does less for the Church than Iliescu did. The
Union at that time-the Orthodox Church graciously Orthodox Church has come under unreasonable
accepted the confiscated estates and went along with attacks lately."
the ruling order. Many priests became Securitate The "attacks" Daniel mentioned came from the
informants, gathering information via confessions or Greek Catholic Church. This institution, the Uniate
by other means. In 1996, Metropolitan Nicolae of Church, was formed in the eighteenth century, in
Banat, the most liberal Romanian prelate, was also the then-Habsburg Transylvania, when Orthodox priests
only Church official to confess publicly to having been were persuaded by the regime that their acceptance of
a Securitate informant. Since Securitate's files are still Catholicism and the authority of the Pope-while
sealed, waiting for a Gauck-type law, confession is the keeping the Eastern Orthodox ceremony-would
only way to learn the truth. Bishop Anania, however, earn them equal status with the Catholic Church and
has never confessed, although in the famous book by the Hungarian and German Protestant churches.
Securitate defector General Ion Pacepa-The Red Some of the priests and bishops considered this a good
Horizons-he is mentioned as occasionally engaging in bargain and converted. Until the nineteenth century,
secret police work for Ceausescu in the US, where he Orthodox priests had had to work as serfs, together with
spent some time. the rest of Romanian peasantry, and held positions infe-
Both Anania and another well-known priest, the rior to their counterparts in all the other faiths. Even


though the Romanian Orthodox believers constitut- communist rule. After years of imprisonment, in
ed the majority of the Transylvanian population, 1989, its main leader, Corneliu Coposu, thought to
some of the priests and bishops considered conversion add the words "Christian Democrat" to the party
a good bargain and became Uniates. The Uniate name-as a way of having it accepted in the Christian
Church then played a major role in the national Democrat International in the hope of greater
emancipation of Romanians in Transylvania and still protection from communist persecution. In 1990, the
filled an important role in interwar Greater Romania, party was admitted to the Christian Democrat
since the most prominent Transylvanian politicians International, but for six years its identity as a political
were Uniates. Outlawed by the communists, the as well as a Christian party remained undefined. Only
Uniate Church survived as a clandestine church until after the death of its leader, Coposu, and the victorious
1990, when it resurfaced. The problem, however, was elections of 1996 did the party become better known
that Romanian Uniates had turned Orthodox over in Europe, where President Emil Constantinescu and
the fifty-year period during which they had no then-prime minister Victor Ciorbea-both Orthodox
Uniate Church to attend. In fact, they kept on going and former members of the Romanian Communist
to the same churches that had become Orthodox. Party-were welcomed as Christian Democrats.
Some of them returned to the Uniate faith in 1990 Except for electoral rhetoric (in the final debate on
but, in many instances, the older generation is the only television Constantinescu asked then-president Iliescu,
one to identify itself as Uniate, while the middle one is "Do you believe in God, Mr. Iliescu?"), only the
Orthodox, and young people are nonpracticing. enforcement of religious instruction in school curricula
In 1997, the Uniate priest and Christian Dem- showed the party's dedication to Christian democracy.
ocrat, Senator Matei Boila, proposed a law returning Religion courses, already introduced in elementary
to Uniates their churches in villages and towns where schools in 1994, became compulsory in 1997, and
there are at least two now-Orthodox, formerly optional courses were introduced in secondary schools
Uniate, churches and where a Uniate community still as well. These classes are taught mostly by Christian
exists. This quite reasonable proposal was met with Orthodox priests. When asked how this fits in with
hostility by the Orthodox Church. A common state- Romania's application to the EU, the new Liberal
ment issued by the prelates of Transylvania threatened Minister of Education, Andrei Marga, answered
civil war if the Boila bill was passed. The Minister of vaguely that Romania's overwhelmingly Orthodox
Religions, Gheorghe Anghelescu (Christian Dem- population had to be considered.
ocrat), also supported the Transylvanian prelates, Elements in civil society have also come to play
claiming that the problem had no administrative solu- a political role and a very ambiguous and unforeseen
tion. He proposed instead that the state finance the one at that. Christian organizations, such as ACS and
building of a few new churches for Uniates, with the the Anastasia Foundation, pushed the often silent or
Orthodox keeping all the old ones. In two major inert Church to intervene in various matters, for
cities, Cluj and Satu Mare, the Uniates won back their example, opposing homosexuality. ACS rallies and
main cathedrals in court. This could well be the fate other pressures finally persuaded Patriarch Teoctist,
of all their churches, which were seized by the com- after years of silence on the matter, to ask MPs in an
munists with little concern for legal formalities. But address to Parliament to vote in favor of maintaining
Orthodox priests have refused to vacate these churches, communist-era opposition to homosexuality in the
and it is easy to understand that the Orthodox Penal Code. The Anastasia Foundation also made
Church believes that it deserves government support, important contributions in the quest to legitimize the
since it supported the Christian Democrats in the nationalism and fundamentalism of former commu-
1996 elections. nist prelates, who were rather shy in 1990. Altogether,
The Romanian Christian Democrat Party is also civil society's initiatives, at the beginning of the new
the most successful one in Europe, with both a prime era and motivated by the desire to help the Church
minister and a president as party members. Its reform itself, resulted finally in the Church associating
existence is another fluke of history. The historical itself tightly with conservatism.
National Peasant Party, traditionally led by a Uniate The Christian Democrats have continued what
Transylvanian elite, endured harsh persecution under President Iliescu began. Prelates may be seen next to

the president on every important occasion. The proven itself to be a worse menace, than the suzerainty
patriarch stands by the president at the Day of the of the Turks. Only in orienting itself toward Islamic
Nation celebration; the president attends all masses countries, Horia contends, will Romania find a place
important enough to be broadcast live by public tele- of its own, thereby avoiding the fate of being engulfed
vision; and, by a slip of the tongue, the Council of by NATO, the aggressive vanguard of the West.
National Defense, over which the president presides, The battle of the Romanian Orthodox Church
called the Orthodox Church a "state institution." with the West emerged and intensified after the
Where the ruler goes, there goes the patriarch. The collapse of Ceausescu's anti-Western national com-
patriarch Teoctist, himself, seems to be reborn, living munism and the religious revival that began in 1990.
a second youth. This is not surprising. After all, as Bishop Andrei of Alba Iulia, with the full support of
some have pointed out in disbelief, he managed the all the Transylvanian bishops, addressed a furious open
extraordinary feat of becoming his own successor. letter to the authorities opposing any visit by the Pope
unless the Uniate Church dropped all of its property
An identity crisis claims. The Orthodox tradition still argues that the
Although the variety of religious phenomena has synthesis of the two rites in the Uniate Church-the
grown in number and intensity since 1989, it is diffi- Byzantine and the Catholic-occurred under pressure
cult to say whether the number of those practicing from the Habsburg's armies in eighteenth-century
their faith has increased significantly. However, it Transylvania. But it was the Uniate priests who led
would not be wise for the country's political powers the national Romanian emancipation in Transylvania,
to attempt to go beyond the current, formal and not- and a significant portion of the Romanians living
so formal, alliance with the Church, which survives there during the unification of 1918 were Uniates.
from one government to the next. By and large, the This did not stop a famous Romanian philosopher of
people do not care much about religious issues, but pre-WW I times, Nae Ionescu, from claiming that
any major change could provoke a negative response. Uniates cannot be "Romanians" although their
Criticism of the Church's lack of involvement in the historical fight for emancipation from Hungarian
serious problems of the day can occasionally be heard, domination had earned them the title "good
but Romanians are accustomed to a church that Romanians." Arguing sophistically, Ionescu explained
exhibits only a tenuous relationship to secular social that "a Uniate can perhaps be a 'good Romanian"
concerns. Reform under these conditions is hard to because this quality can be earned; but he cannot, and
imagine. And meanwhile, the Church itself is most will never be, a Romanian, because being a
uneasy facing the prospect of Romania's future: Romanian implies being born and baptized as an
European integration and NATO membership, that Orthodox Christian, and this religion implies a men-
is, the long-delayed union with the West. tality, a state, and a Church fundamentally different
The Orthodox Church fears the West. This fear from those of the West." Ionescu wrote that
is complex, a mixture of historical feelings of inferior- Romanians had to relinquish the idea that they are
ity and the consequences of recent isolation. It fears Europeans; they only fool themselves into thinking so
modernization (which would make the Church look because of their Latin origin. But this origin counts for
backward), the proselytism of Protestant sects, and the little in their society: traditional law in the country is
growing secularization of Romanian society. And these probably of Thracian origin, opined Ionescu, the state
contemporary fears may now be endowed with suit- model is Byzantine, the religion purely Eastern, and
able historical roots, only just discovered. In a short the people's nature is "contemplative"-very different
pamphlet, a young theologian, Alexandru Horia, has from the active nature of Catholicism. "We cannot sur-
built a bridge connecting Romania's nationalist- pass ourselves without ceasing to be who we are," he
communist inclinations with the Arabic Middle East, wrote. Ionescu considered institutional modernization
basing this in part on the Orthodox fundamentalists' a series of "failed implants" and preached a return of
fear of losing their religious identity if swallowed by Romania to its purportedly autochthonous way of life.
secular Western culture. According to Horia, the This type of reasoning, surfacing only occasionally in
Catholic Church has inflicted greater damage on the the past, is again fashionable today, although it is not
Orthodox Church and culture, and has constantly the official discourse of the Church.


But then the question arises: How can the and by the systematic destruction of everything that
Church openly oppose the state to which it is so closely was reminiscent of precommunist Romania. It is even
bound? The state wants, more than anything else, to difficult for the Romanian government today to
become integrated into the Western world. At the decide which new history textbooks should be used
same time it needs to strengthen the morale of a pop- to teach children about their country's past. The state
ulation tired of the suffering endured during both the needs the Orthodox Church as both a source and
dreadful communist times and the painful transition. sanction of cultural identity. The occasional Christian
The state needs to provide identity, pride, and motiva- Democrats have the distinction of at least understand-
tion for the people to endure still more. And it clearly ing this. So the old alliance seems, once again,
needs the Church to take a hand in the process. destined to last, even though the institutional agendas
The postcommunist Romanian state did not of the two parties sometimes sharply conflict.
follow the example set by Boris Yeltsin, who
appointed a commission to discover what is left of- Alina Mungiu-Pippidi is currently Director of News and
and what should be-the identity of Russia after Current Affairs of Romanian Television. She holds a Ph.D.
communism. The "contemplative" and ironic nature in Social Psychology and had a Fulbright postdoctoral
of Romanians helped them realize that such a com- fellowship to the Department of Government, Harvard
mission would produce no definitive answer. But this University. She is the author of Romanii dupa '89:
does not mean that such a task would be meaningless. istoria unei meitelegeri (Bucharest 1995), a study of val-
Romania's collective memory has been erased by fifty ues and attitudes in postcommunist Romania. This work
years of totalitarian propaganda, by social engineering has been translated into German under the title Die
that was more extreme than anywhere else in Europe, Rumanen nach '89 (1996).

Restoring Church Property

Janos Dobszay

The end of the communist era in Hungary was

preceded by a kind of religious renaissance. In
Article 60
(1) Inthe Republic of Hungary everyone has the right to freedom of
thought, freedom of conscience and freedom of religion.
various opinion polls taken in the mid-1980s,
(2) This right shall include the free choice or acceptance of a rell-
and again in 1990, Hungarians who regarded them-
glen or belief, and the freedom to publicly or privately express
selves as "religious according to church doctrine" or decline to express, exercise and teach such religions and
increased from 15 percent to 19 percent, whereas beliefs by way of religious actions, rites or In any other way,
those who said they were religious "in their own way" either IndivIdually or Ina group.
rose from 47 percent to 62 percent. In measuring the
(3) The church and the State shall operate In separation In the
"degree of satisfaction with institutions," churches of
Republic of Hungapry.
every faith and denomination consistently ranked
above all other social institutions-Parliament, the The Constitution of the Republic of Hungary (1849 [amended, 1989])
cabinet, political parties, trade unions, the media, and
the like. In the last few years, however, the reputation Hungarian Democratic Forum [HDF], the Christian
of the churches has declined somewhat, though they Democratic Party [CDP], and the Independent
still are highly respected relative to most other institu- Smallholders' Party [ISP]), religion was in vogue as
tions. (During this period, generally, respect for social the antithesis of communism. Members of the cabinet
institutions in Hungary declined across the board.) often participated conspicuously in religious services,
Whether these numerical indicators reflected a prompting some observers to conclude, skeptically if
new and genuine wave of religious feeling was ques- not cynically, that the officials in question simply
tionable from the outset. After the victory of the self- wanted to show off their newly discovered faith.
proclaimed "Christian" parties in 1990 (that is, the Nonetheless, it is clear that religious life was becoming