Speaking at an International Symposium dedicated to the pastoral care of Romanians abroad last week, Patriarch Daniel stressed that “the Mother Church supports and encourages her spiritual sons and daughters from abroad and understands the difficulties they face in their struggle to ensure a better future.”
The Symposium combined a “live” in-person event at the Palace of the Patriarchate in Bucharest with a “virtual” online component.
Hierarchs, priests, state authorities, academicians, and scholars shared ideas regarding the life of Orthodox Romanians abroad.
Pastoral care of Romanians Everywhere: The Mission of the Mother Church for the Romanian People
The International Symposium on Theology “The pastoral care of Romanians outside Romania: ecclesial responsibility and ethnic unity,” organized by the Romanian Patriarchate, through its Theological-Educational Department, in cooperation with the Faculty of Orthodox Theology “Justinian Patriarch” of the University of Bucharest, with the support of the State Secretariat for Religious Affairs, represents one of the significant events occasioned by the Solemn Year of the pastoral care of Romanians outside Romania.
This academic event takes place between December 8-11, 2021, at the Patriarchate’s Palace in Bucharest and brings together representatives of state institutions, hierarchs, priests, professors, and specialists from Romania and abroad.
The papers of the symposium are structured in the following sections:
- Communities of Romanian Orthodox believers in the vicinity of the country’s borders: pastoral and missionary priorities;
- Romanian Orthodox communities in the diaspora: pastoral and missionary priorities;
- The Church – the spiritual family of Romanians everywhere today (means of communication and communion between Romania and the Romanian diaspora);
- Education and pastoral care of Orthodox children and young people in the Romanian diaspora;
- State-Church cooperation for the communion of Romanians everywhere.
One can talk about the history of Romanian migration outside the country from the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. Following the changes that took place after the First World War, as well as the emigration of some Orthodox Romanians from Transylvania, Banat, Crișana, and Bukovina to the United States and Canada, before 1918, many Romanian Orthodox communities were formed in different countries of the world.
During the interwar period (1918-1939), and then, due to the establishment of the communist regime (March 6, 1945), many families left Romania, settling in other parts of the world.
However, after the fall of the communist regime in December 1989, but especially after 2007, with Romania’s accession to the European Union, the number of Orthodox Romanians in the diaspora increased more and more.
Therefore, the pastoral care and special appreciation are shown by the Romanian Patriarchate towards the Romanian Orthodox communities outside the country has been materialized, in recent years, by setting up numerous parishes and new dioceses to meet the multiple spiritual needs of Romanian Orthodox believers in Bessarabia (Republic of Moldova), Serbia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Central and Northern Europe, Western and Southern Europe, the Americas, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as by establishing representations (Jerusalem and Brussels) and Romanian Orthodox communities (Mount Athos, Syria, and Lebanon, Cyprus, Turkey, South Africa, Japan, Croatia, Slovenia, United Arab Emirates / Dubai).
In the current context of the global migration phenomenon, the Romanian Orthodox Church is currently developing and intensifying its mission and pastoral responsibility towards Orthodox Romanians outside Romania, which it considers its faithful sons and an integral part of the Romanian Orthodox communion everywhere.
In this sense, through the co-responsibility of all the hierarchs of the Holy Synod and, especially, of the Romanian Orthodox hierarchs who pastor the clergy and the faithful outside Romania, the Romanian Orthodox Church carries out a rich liturgical, pastoral, missionary, cultural, and social work in the parishes, monasteries, cultural and social-charitable institutions of the Romanian Orthodox communities located in the vicinity of Romania and the Romanian diaspora.
Given a large number of Romanians outside Romania (currently estimated at almost ten million, respectively, six million Romanians living in historical or traditional communities in neighboring countries of Romania and four million Romanians living in church communities in the diaspora), the Romanian Patriarchate supports the efforts of Orthodox Romanians temporarily or permanently settled abroad, to preserve their religious, ethnic, linguistic and cultural identity.
In this sense, the Mother Church supports and encourages her spiritual sons and daughters from abroad and understands the difficulties they face in their struggle to ensure a better future.
At the same time, however, these Romanian Orthodox believers often live in increasingly secularized and individualistic societies, often viewed with coldness or suspicion, which does not inspire a sense of peace and contentment.
Therefore, their participation in the liturgical life of the parish, as well as in the cultural events and social-philanthropic actions organized by the parishes in the Romanian diaspora, is an extraordinary comfort and joy.
Through the parish activities, the Orthodox faith is professed, the Romanian traditions are transmitted, and the Romanian language is cultivated, all these contributing to the preservation of the ecclesial, cultural and ethnic identity of Romanians outside Romania.
Simultaneously, the harmonious coexistence of Romanian migrants with the citizens of the adopting countries is necessary, for social integration in the host countries, but without the cultural assimilation of the Romanians.
We hope for a harmonious coexistence of Romanian migrants with the citizens of the adopting countries, especially now when, in many places in the world, the medical, moral, spiritual, and economic crisis is manifested by social tensions that can degenerate into interethnic and interreligious conflicts.
Many of the Romanians who live far from Romania want to stay permanently in touch with their loved ones who remained at home so that the tremendous geographical distances do not produce spiritual distancing or alienation of some from others.
They want to preserve the unity of the family, consisting of a man, a woman, and children because the family blessed by God is the most precious intimate space in which conjugal love is expressed, but also parental, filial, and fraternal love.
In this sense, the increase of spiritual communion and fraternal cooperation between Romanians working or studying outside Romania and their loved ones in the country is a necessity.
It is also essential to educate the young generation in the spirit of love for God, the Church, and the nation and to cultivate fundamental virtues in the souls of children and young people, such as love and compassion, solidarity with people in difficulty, meekness, sincerity, courage, and trust.
By the decision of the Holy Synod of February 25, 2009, the first Sunday after the feast of the Dormition of the Theotokos was dedicated to Romanian migrants, as a sign of the permanent pastoral care of the Romanian Orthodox Church towards Romanians permanently or temporarily settled abroad.
As a spiritual mother who never abandons her sons and daughters, we assure them that the Romanian Orthodox Church will continue to be by their side through worthy hierarchs and missionary priests in the diaspora, supporting them both through her constant prayers and her concrete pastoral, social-philanthropic and cultural activities.
We congratulate the organizers and bless all the participants of the International Symposium on Theology “The Pastoral Care of Romanians outside Romania: ecclesial responsibility and ethnic unity,” hoping that this academic event will contribute to maintaining and cultivating Romanian unity, to the glory of the Most Holy Trinity, the dignity of the Romanian people and joy Romanians everywhere.
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church