Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Romanian Orthodoxy, between Ideology of Exclusion and Sécularisation Amiable

Academic journal article Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies

Romanian Orthodoxy, between Ideology of Exclusion and Sécularisation Amiable

Article excerpt

The present study represents a preliminary theoretical attempt to analyse the socio-political influence and impact of the Romanian Orthodoxy within the Romanian public life and political culture since 1990, both through the relation between the Orthodox Church and the state, and its impact on the wider society. An open-ended reflection on a constantly unfolding reality, the approach focuses on demonstrating the profound "modernity"-not backwardness-of Orthodoxy's implicit political theology and derived ideologies and their "modern" destructiveness.

The pivotal segment of the study is the relation between modernity and a theory of exclusion derived from a rather unorthodox (brief) interpretation of its emergence from the main carriers of modernity, namely Enlightenment and humanism. Instead of conclusion, the final section compiles and comments a few reformist initiatives and some possible philosophical-theological ways out of the deadlock of ideological self-centrism that still dominates our Orthodoxy.

Key Words:

modernity, (ultra)nationalism, ethnocentrism, (radical) exclusion, Orthodoxy, identity crisis, tolerance, social theology, universalism.

Francis Fukuyama's conviction that, following the disappearance of serious threats to liberal capitalism, we witness the end of history is contradicted by a major dangerous ideology that dominates the beginning of the 21st century, just as it did at the beginning of the previous century: nationalism. The present sweeping phenomenon of globalization, far from diminishing the economic discrepancies, accelerates the radicalisation of nation-states, often occurring also among the rich countries (such as Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, or France) by the increasing of radical right's popularity.

According to Jonathan Glover, there are two histories of nationalism: first, there is the continuously multiplied history of peoples engaged in the legitimate struggle for freedom; secondly, there is the history of nationalism under the form of tribal conflict. Regarding the protagonists of the latter, Glover writes that

[although n]ationality is often thought of as [a given,] something "natural" or presocial ... nationalists often think of their nation in ways influenced by a traditional model of a "pure" or "ideal" case. This ideal version is of a people inhabiting a single, unified territory. All territorial boundaries are clear and undisputed, and there are no minorities [inside them]. The "people" are a tribe. They are a single ethnic group. They have a common language, a shared history, which involves their having a common culture. This culture typically includes shared religious beliefs.1


In 1990, Nestor Vornicescu, Metropolitan Bishop of The Romanian Orthodox Church (BOR) wrote: "Our orthodox theology regards the national factor as belonging to the divine order and will"; the resulting ethnic character of the Church urges the citizen to support the state, described as the expression of the Romanian nation. "Orthodox faith has thus identified itself with our consciousness as a people", the Church being, above all, the Church of the Romanian nation, of all [its] generations."2 As a consequence, the attentive analyst Olivier Gillet comments, the Orthodox Church is considered, historically and ethnically, State Church; anyone unconnected to it by blood and ancient orthodox Dacian-Roman descent, is a second-degree Romanian citizen.3 By attributing the Romanian Orthodox Church's ethnicity a mystical character this type of discourse descends directly from the interwar rightist cultural periodical Gândirea. One of the main contributors to this prestigious publication-and charismatic mentor of a generation of brilliant, albeit ultranationalist, thinkers-Nae Ionescu, has often expressed his opinion about the relation between Orthodoxy and the Romanian people as follows: "We are orthodox because we are Romanians and are Romanians because we are orthodox. …

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