Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania

Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania

Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania

Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania

Synopsis

In the post-communist era it has become evident that the emerging democracies in Eastern Europe will be determined by many factors, only some of them political. Throughout the region, the Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Greek Catholic churches have tried to impose their views on democracythrough direct political engagement. Moreover, surveys show that the churches (and the army) enjoy more popular confidence than elected political bodies such as parliaments. These results reflect widespread disenchantment with a democratization process that has allowed politicians to advance theirown agendas rather than work to solve the urgent socio-economic problems these countries face. In this penetrating study, Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu investigate the interaction of religion and politics in one such country, Romania. Facing internal challenges and external competitions fromother religions old and new, the Orthodox Church in Romania has sought to consolidate its position and ensure Romania's version of democracy recognizes its privileged position of "national Church", enforcing the Church's stances on issues such as homosexuality and abortion. The post-communist stateand political elite in turn rely on the Church for compliance with educational and cultural policies and to quell the insistent demands of the Hungarian minority for autonomy. Stan and Turcescu examine the complex relationship between church and state in this new Romania, providing analysis in key areas: church collaboration with communist authorities, post-communist electoral politics, nationalism and ethno-politics, restitution of Greek Catholic property,religious education, and sexual behavior and reproduction. As the first scholars to be given access to confidential materials from the archives of the communist political police, the notorious Securitate, Stan and Turcescu also examine church archives, legislation, news reports, and interviews withpoliticians and church leaders. This study will move the debate from common analyses of nationalism in isolation to more comprehensive investigations which consider the impact of religious actors on a multitude of other issues relevant to the political and social life of the country.

Excerpt

It is a great honor for me to introduce this exciting new book written by Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu about the Romanian Orthodox Church and its politics. They bring a fresh perspective to the subject, arguing that strict church-state separation is not an appropriate model for Romania and that, in any event, such separation “is not essential to democracy.” Moreover, where others have dwelled at length on the vast changes which followed the collapse of communism throughout the Central and East European area in the course of 1989–90, they look at both continuity and discontinuity of the principles and institutions in religious policy and in the religious sphere over time. As they note, the post-communist transition offered an opportunity for Romania to redefine itself, and, within that context, to redefine its religio-political formula.

Stan and Turcescu allow us, as it were, to look behind closed doors. Indeed, they are uniquely qualified to write this book, bringing to the task training in theology (Turcescu) and in political science (Stan), as well as personal experience related to the subject of this book. Both of them spent about a quarter of a century living in Romania, both of them were under police surveillance, both of them had earned higher degrees by the time they left Romania, both of them changed fields of study. Stan began in economics, earning a bachelor’s in commerce at the Academy of Economic Sciences in Bucharest before crossing over, after emigrating to Canada, to political . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.