Cablegate: Orthodox Church Elects New Patriarch
PP RUEHAG RUEHAST RUEHDA RUEHDBU RUEHDF RUEHFL RUEHIK RUEHKW RUEHLA
RUEHLN RUEHLZ RUEHPOD RUEHROV RUEHSR RUEHVK RUEHYG
DE RUEHBM #1062 2571610
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 141610Z SEP 07
FM AMEMBASSY BUCHAREST
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 7329
INFO RUEHZL/EUROPEAN POLITICAL COLLECTIVE
UNCLAS BUCHAREST 001062
DEPT FOR EUR/NCE - AARON JENSEN
E.O. 12958, AS AMENDED: N/A
TAGS: PHUM PGOV RO
SUBJECT: ORTHODOX CHURCH ELECTS NEW PATRIARCH
1. (SBU) Summary. Metropolitan Daniel of Moldova and Bukovina was
elected Patriarch, succeeding the late Patriarch Teocist after a
40-day mourning period. The new Patriarch reportedly represents a
modernizing wing of the Church. His election may offer an
opportunity to reopen discussions on a range of issues including
property restitution and joint efforts to discourage the
legalization of prostitution in Romania. End Summary.
2. (SBU) The Romanian Orthodox Church elected Metropolitan Bishop
Daniel Ciobotea of Moldavia and Bukovina as its new Patriarch on
September 12, following a 40-day mourning period for the late
Patriarch Teocist. The election of the new Patriarch was marked by
the church's public refusal to bring to light any of the possible
successors' histories of collaboration with the Communist-era
Securitate secret police. Politicians also weighed in, making
public declarations as to whom they favored and in some cases
working actively to thwart the National College for the Study of
Securitate Archives (CNSAS) from examining the communist-era
collaboration files of church leaders before the election.
3. (SBU) The death of Patriarch Teoctist, aged 92, at the end of
July led to a highly visible campaign filled with rumors,
accusations, and calls for reform of the Orthodox Church, including
demands that the Church select a new patriarch untainted by
collaboration with the Communist-era political police. Media
reported that both the late Patriarch, elected in 1986, and his
predecessor had been Securitate informants. One member of CNSAS,
Mircea Dinescu, alleged that most high-ranking church leaders had
actively collaborated with the Securitate. The Orthodox Church
reacted by saying that such allegations were aimed at discrediting
the Orthodox Church at a critical juncture, and threatened to sue
4. (SBU) Media and NGOs urged the CNSAS to check the Securitate
files of Church leaders before the patriarchal election, but the
CNSAS was unable to do so because several political parties'
representatives on the CNSAS Council boycotted its meetings,
specifically from the PD, PSD, and PRM. Dinescu told the press that
the files of some Church leaders had been destroyed in the early
1990's, and that Daniel's file allegedly was among them. Leading
Church scholar and Ambassador to Paris, Teodor Baconschi, urged
publicly that the new Patriarch should have a "clean past" in order
not to be subject to blackmail.
5. (SBU) Many politicians made public statements supporting favored
candidate and attempted to use the campaign for Patriarch to gain
publicity. Even some Orthodox leaders expressed their support
publicly for certain candidates, but others urged the political
class and the media to not interfere with the Church's election of
the Patriarch. The Orthodox Church refused to make public the names
of the 186 members of the Electoral Church College (one-third of
whom were secular figures from politics, business, and academia)
until the election day.
6. (SBU) The 56-year-old Patriarch is generally portrayed as a
reformer. He is expected to continue to support the Church's
position against the legalization of prostitution. He has been
silent on the problem of restituting the Greek Catholic Churches as
he had not had to deal with that issue while bishop in Moldavia.
Daniel was active in shaping a restrictive Law on Religions passed
by parliament last year; he headed the Orthodox Church's delegation
to the inter-confessional negotiations on the new law. Some sources
reported that Daniel also took a very tough attitude against other
religions' right to access to Orthodox cemeteries.
7. (SBU) After his election as Patriarch, Daniel declared that his
main goal would be the continuation of church tradition: "A
patriarch cannot change the directions already established by the
Synod and he is the guarantor that these directions are implemented.
It is a great difference because the Synod principle forces us to
work together and go together. This is the meaning of Synod in
Greek: joint trip. We walk together, we walk along the path of
salvation." He added that he wanted the church "to be known for its
multiple activities, because only some of them are currently known."
Patriarch Daniel also said that the he would like the Church to
obtain more support from civil society.