The Message of Patriarch Daniel of the Romanian Orthodox Church, at the festive meeting of the ‘Centennial of the Constitution of Greater Romania (1923-2023)’, an event organized by the Constitutional Court of Romania, at the Palace of the Parliament, on Monday, 27 March 2023.
Solemn Anniversary of the Romanian Constitution of 1923
We express our joy to participate at the Palace of the Parliament in the festive Meeting dedicated to the Centennial of the Constitution of Unified Romania (1923-2023), to pay tribute to those who adopted the first Constitution after the Great Union of 1918.
The great changes in a country’s history also generate changes to the Fundamental Law, changes that arise from the new realities and create the premises for important further developments in all spheres of society.
Thus, the achievement of Romania’s independence in 1878 led to the proclamation of the Kingdom of Romania in 1881, and, on the ecclesiastical level, it made possible the recognition of the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1885.
The completion of Romania in 1918 and its international recognition led to the adoption of a new Constitution in 1923 and the elevation of the Romanian Orthodox Church to the rank of Patriarchate (1925), which brought together all Orthodox Romanians.
The valorization of the Great Union from 1918 in the life of Romanian society was also done through the new Constitution. For the Romanian Orthodox Church, the great novelties brought by the Fundamental Law of 1923 were:
- The constitutional statement of the participation of hierarchs, clergy, and laymen in the organization and functioning of the Romanian Orthodox Church (1/3 clergy and 2/3 laymen), according to the model of the Romanian Orthodox Church in Transylvania, in the period 1868-1918;
- The announcement of two organic laws: a special law, regarding the Romanian Orthodox Church, which “will establish the fundamental principles of this unitary organization, as well as the manner in which the Church will supervise, lead and administer, through its own organisms and under the control of the State, its religious, cultural, foundational and administrative matters” (art. 22 para. 7), and second law, regarding “the relations between various religious denominations and the State” (art. 22 para. 10), the Law of Religious Denominations from 1928, respectively.
Among the fundamental rights guaranteed by the Romanian Constitution of 1923 there were the freedom of conscience and the freedom and protection of religious denominations, enunciated by article 22.
Under freedom circumstances, the State and the Church can contribute, each one according to their respective competencies, to the protection of the dignity of the human person, the promotion of freedom and human responsibility, as well as to the achievement of justice and social solidarity in the life of the Romanian people.
The Constitution of 1923 had also the role of integrating Romania, from a political, cultural, and human rights point of view, into the great family of civilized states, into the Europe of nations. The promotion of religious life and freedom of religion became one of the primary obligations of Romania as a whole, under the conditions that, after the emergence of the Soviet Union, Romania was at the border of the free world and gathered the largest Christian Orthodox population that could manifest unhindered its faith.
The noble principles proclaimed by the Constitution of 1923 had to face up to the authoritarian or dictatorial regimes that culminated with the establishment of the communist regime in Romania in 1945 and the abrogation of this Constitution in 1948.
We would like to remind you, on this occasion, that in 1866 the first Constitution of Romania was voted in a hall belonging to the Metropolis of Walachia, and, starting with the Constitution of 1923, all Romanian Constitutions were voted on in the building constructed in 1908 on the Metropolis Hill, currently the Palace of the Patriarchate.
At this anniversary time for Romania and the Constitutional Court of Romania, we pray to God that He may bless the works of this solemn meeting and grant good health, peace, and joy to all those present, as well as abundant help in every activity useful for the life and dignity of the Romanian people.
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church
Photo courtesy of Basilica.ro / Mircea Florescu