Patriarch Daniel of Romania sent a message on the 30th anniversary of the reactivation of the Metropolis of Bessarabia.
The festivities took place in the Church of St. Andrew – Durlesti, in Chisinau, last Thursday, October 20.
“We assure all the Orthodox faithful of the Republic of Moldova that the Romanian Orthodox Church, as a spiritual mother who never abandons her children, through the worthy hierarchs and priests of the three Bessarabian dioceses, will continue to be at their side, supporting them both through her permanent prayers and through the support of concrete pastoral, social-philanthropic and cultural activities in the Metropolis of Bessarabia,” Patriarch Daniel underscored.
The Metropolis of Bessarabia cultivates steadfast love for the Romanian people’s ancestral Church
The Metropolis of Bessarabia was established following the Great Union of the Romanian people in 1918, specifically in 1925, when the Archdiocese of Chisinau was elevated to the status of Metropolis, with His Eminence Gurie Grosu as its first Metropolitan.
Upon the advent of the Soviet authority in Bessarabia in 1944, however, Metropolitan Efrem Enăchescu was forced to vacate his episcopal see. Thus, the Metropolis of Bessarabia halted operations for over half a century without the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church recognising its dissolution.
The declaration of independence by the Republic of Moldova on August 27, 1991, permitted the faithful of this Metropolis who remained loyal to the Romanian Orthodox Church to organise an eparchial assembly and decide on September 14, 1992, to reactivate the Metropolis of Bessarabia.
On December 19, 1992, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church took note, with blessing, of the reactivation of the Metropolis of Bessarabia and, by a Patriarchal and Synodal Act, recognised this Metropolis as autonomous and observing the old calendar, its leadership being assumed by His Eminence Petru Păduraru, who would in 1995 receive the title of Archbishop of Chisinau, Metropolitan of Bessarabia and Exarch of the Territories.
In that Decree, it was stated: “by reactivating the Metropolis of Bessarabia, a holy act of truth and justice is being committed today, which renews the fullness of the communion of ancestral faith and Romanian feeling.”
After a decade of persecution by the Moldovan authorities and refusal of recognition of its legal existence, the Metropolis of Bessarabia won a famous case at the European Court of Human Rights on December 13, 2001, which led to the official recognition of the Metropolis of Bessarabia by the Moldovan authorities in 2002 with the support of several specialists, including internationally renowned foreign lawyers.
The legal recognition obtained 20 years ago has led to a certain freedom in its liturgical, pastoral and administrative activities.
After recognition by the State, His Eminence Metropolitan Petru obtained registration with the competent Moldovan authorities of the four dioceses of the Metropolis of Bessarabia, namely the Archdiocese of Chisinau and the Diocese of Balti (formerly Hotin Diocese) in 2004, as well as the Diocese of Southern Bessarabia (formerly of Cetatea Alba-Ismail) and the Orthodox Diocese of Dubasari and all Transnistria (formerly the Romanian Orthodox Mission in Transnistria) in 2006.
In the Centennial Year 2018, at His Eminence’s request and proposal, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church elected His Grace Antonie as Bishop of Balti and His Grace Veniamin as Bishop of Southern Bessarabia to strengthen the ecclesiastical life in the Metropolis of Bessarabia.
In addition, in 2018, clergy and lay members from all three Bessarabian dioceses were appointed to the National Church Assembly in recognition of the specific relevance of Romanians along Romania’s borders.
In the same year, 2018, at the proposal of the Metropolitan Synod of the Metropolis of Bessarabia, the Holy Synod approved the canonisation of Saint Dionysius (Erhan), Bishop of Cetatea Alba and Ismail, a holy offspring of the Bessarabian land in the 20th century, the first canonisation carried out in the Romanian Orthodox Church at the proposal of this Metropolitan Synod.
The three-decade anniversary of the reactivation of the Metropolis of Bessarabia (1992-2022) is thus an occasion to thank God for the gifts bestowed upon the hierarchs, clergy, and faithful of the Romanian Orthodox Church on the left bank of Prut River, as well as a day of gratitude for all those who contributed to the reactivation and recognition of the Metropolis of Bessarabia by the authorities of the Republic of Moldova, as well as to numerous liturgical, pastoral, missionary, construction, educational, philanthropic and cultural activities.
At the same time, this anniversary is an opportunity to emphasise the importance of the dignity and unity of the nation, language, and faith among Romanians on both sides of the Prut River, as well as an opportunity for reflection, evaluation, and the launch of new initiatives to promote and develop the spiritual and cultural values of Romanians in the Republic of Moldova through peaceful dialogue, cooperation, and respect for freedom and human dignity.
Thanks to the fervour and devotion of His Eminence Metropolitan Petru of Bessarabia and his two suffragan hierarchs, Their Graces Antonie of Balti and Veniamin of Southern Bessarabia, the faithful feel the joy of living the ancestral faith of the Romanian people and their profound ethnic identity in the Romanian Orthodox churches of the Republic of Moldova.
The permanent values of the Orthodox faith and Romanian culture are promoted, Romanian traditions are passed on, and the Romanian language is cultivated through their participation in the liturgical life, cultural events, and social-philanthropic actions organised by the parishes of the Metropolis of Bessarabia, all of which contribute to the preservation of the cultural, ethnic, linguistic, and ecclesial identity of the Orthodox Romanians in Bessarabia.
His Eminence Metropolitan Petru, in particular, has demonstrated pastoral care and special attention to Church life by constantly striving to increase the number of places of worship and clerical and monastic personnel, to build, strengthen, and repair numerous places of worship, social centres, and administrative buildings, and to carry out cultural-educational and social-philanthropic programmes in close collaboration with the Diaconia Social Mission.
His Eminence’s example has been followed in recent years by His Grace Bishop Antonie of Balti and His Grace Bishop Veniamin of Southern Bessarabia, with notable results.
Approximately half of the Metropolis of Bessarabia’s places of worship and church structures are now undertaking construction or repair works, mural painting or restoration, equipping and beautifying works. Furthermore, various immovable properties (land and buildings) have been bought to establish places of worship or organise administrative offices and social-pastoral centres.
These construction initiatives were made possible by a number of meritorious priests who accompanied His Eminence Metropolitan Petru from the start, as well as other Church ministers, many of whom went on to found significant places of worship.
Many of these programmes are also financially sponsored, to the extent possible, by the Romanian Patriarchate in collaboration with many Romanian dioceses and with the assistance of the Romanian State.
The effervescence of spiritual life in the Metropolis of Bessarabia was also expressed via the components of the Romanian Patriarchate’s Basilica Media Centre, particularly in the framework of the year 2021, declared by the Holy Synod as a Solemn Year of the Pastoral Care of Romanians Abroad.
Numerous interviews, news articles, feature stories, and television and radio broadcasts have been conducted with figures from the Republic of Moldova’s religious and cultural life. The Romanian Patriarchate’s Trinitas TV station is working on an anniversary film for the Metropolis of Bessarabia.
We assure all the Orthodox faithful of the Republic of Moldova that the Romanian Orthodox Church, as a spiritual mother who never abandons her children, through the worthy hierarchs and priests of the three Bessarabian dioceses, will continue to be at their side, supporting them both through her permanent prayers and the support of concrete pastoral, social-philanthropic and cultural activities in the Metropolis of Bessarabia.
We congratulate His Eminence Petru, Archbishop of Chișinău, Metropolitan of Bessarabia and Exarch of the Territories, Their Graces Bishop Antonie of Balti and Bishop Veniamin of Southern Bessarabia for their diligent and extensive work, for their dedication to the Romanian people, and for organising these spiritual, missionary and cultural events marking the 30th anniversary of the reactivation of the Metropolis of Bessarabia.
As a sign of gratitude, appreciation and blessing, we are offering orders and distinctions to several clergy and lay people today.
We pray to the Most Holy Trinity to protect and bless with perfect health, help, peace and joy all the hierarchs, clergy, monastics, founders, supporters and lay faithful of the Metropolis of Bessarabia, as well as all those present here, giving them all peace and joy, health and salvation, cultivating the spirit of unity and brotherhood, communion and solidarity, for the preservation and promotion of the values of faith and culture of the Romanian people, for many blessed years!
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church
Photography courtesy of Doxologia / Fr Silviu Cluci