On Tuesday, April 25, 2023, the Romanian Orthodox Church marks its 138th anniversary of autocephaly.
After Romania gained its state independence in 1877 and was declared a Kingdom in 1881, the prestige of the Romanian Orthodox Church increased, making necessary the formal recognition of its autocephaly, long denied by the Ecumenical Patriarchate.
On November 23, 1882, the Holy Synod of the Orthodox Church of the Kingdom of Romania assumed a “Synodal Act”, vested with the signatures of all the hierarchs of the country and with the Synod’s seal, which supported with historical and theological arguments the need for the recognition of the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
During a lecture delivered in 2020 at the Patriarchal Palace in Bucharest, Patriarch Daniel explained that this Synodal Act reviewed the relations between the Christian Church on the Romanian land and the Ecumenical Patriarchate, mentioning the establishment of the metropolises in the Romanian Principalities and underscoring how Romanians have always defended their church autonomy against the arbitrary attempts of Constantinople.
Only 26 years after the Union of the Romanian Principalities took place, on April 25, 1885, Ecumenical Patriarch Joachim IV (1884-1886), who was more open to negotiations with the church hierarchy and the authorities of the Romanian state, sent to Bucharest the Tomos of Autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
‘The Tomos notes that recognizing the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church also means recognizing its canonical authority, equal to the canonical authority of the other sister Churches. Therefore, the Synod of the Autocephalous Romanian Orthodox Church is called “Fellow Synod in Christ”.’
‘The Holy Synod of this Church is not subordinate to another ecclesial authority, but the Holy Synod of an autocephalous Church must exercise this total freedom of church leadership, having an awareness of direct responsibility before Christ, the Head of the Church and the Eternal High Priest, as stated in the Tomos,’ Patriarch Daniel noted.
This year also marks 98 years since the bestowal of the rank of Patriarchate to the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1925.
In 2019, on Maundy Thursday, the members of the Holy Synod officiated the sanctification of the Holy Chrism at the Patriarchal Cathedral, marking the 134th anniversary of the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
It was the 22nd time Holy Chrism was sanctified since the bestowal of autocephaly to the Romanian Orthodox Church in 1885.
In 2025, on the 140th anniversary of the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church and the 100th anniversary of the establishment of the Romanian Patriarchate, Patriarch Daniel hopes to consecrate National Cathedral mosaic iconography.
The Romanian Patriarchate also announced that in 2025 several great Romanian confessors from communism will be canonized. The list includes the names of Rev. Professor Dumitru Stăniloae, Archimandrite Cleopas Ilie, Archimandrite Gherasim Iscu, Elder Paisie Olaru, and priest-martyr Liviu Galaction Munteanu.
Photography courtesy of the Basilica.ro