Moldovan Church under Moscow calls Romanian Church to dialogue as tensions rise

Chișinău, Moldova, March 10, 2024

Met. Vladimir (left), Pat. Daniel (right). Photo: Met. Vladimir (left), Pat. Daniel (right). Photo:     

The head of the Moldovan Orthodox Church under the Moscow Patriarchate is calling on the Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church to enter into a dialogue about the aggravated ecclesiastical situation in Moldova.

For three decades, there have been two overlapping jurisdictions in Moldova: the Moscow Patriarchate’s Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova and the Romanian Orthodox Church’s Metropolis of Bessarabia, which have essentially tolerated each other since the latter was reestablished in 1991 by a bishop formerly of the Russian Church’s structure.

However, relations have severely deteriorated since the start of the war in Ukraine. A number of clerics and parishes have moved from the Moscow to the Romanian side, but as these transitions were made without a canonical release, a number of the clerics have been defrocked.

However, the Metropolis of Bessarabia has declared these canonical sanctions null and void, and on February 29, the Holy Synod of the entire Romanian Orthodox Church took the same position.

On Friday, March 8, the Moldovan Church published a statement, arguing that “The Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church does not have the authority to annul the sanctions applied to priests from other Local Orthodox Churches.”

Two days earlier, the Moldovan Church had published a letter from His Eminence Metropolitan Vladimir of Chișinău to His Beatitude Patriarch Daniel of Romania, calling on him to engage in dialogue about the troubling situation.

Met. Vladimir notes that such divisions between Orthodox brothers are pleasing to politicians but painful for the Church. He also charges that some of the clerics who have joined the Romanian Church’s Metropolis of Bessarabia did so for a higher salary (in a letter to His Holiness Patriarch Kirill of Moscow in September, Met. Vladimir complained of the financial difficulties facing the Moldovan Church, in addition to its diminishing authority in Moldovan society due to its association with the Moscow Patriarchate).

Read Met. Vladimir’s full letter to Pat. Daniel:

We present these words to you, laid out from love for the rational flock, hoping in the proverbial wisdom of Your Beatitude. We see Christ’s robe being torn, and the flock scattering. We look with concern at how, to the joy of politicians, division among brothers is once again used as an electoral weapon, and the souls of the faithful are lost in the nets of sects. It’s painful how material interests awaken in some servants of the Church a patriotism of convenience, and the offered salary influences the perception of nationality—a salary that some of our priests take without even having switched to the Metropolis of Bessarabia.

We need Your Beatitude’s wisdom and characteristic discernment. With pain, we watch how, under the cover of Synodal Decision No. 8.090 from December 19, 1992, clerics suspended or defrocked for serious moral deviations and incompatibility with priestly service are received as servants of the Metropolis of Bessarabia. Others, who until recently declared unhindered loyalty to the Metropolis of Moldova, have left our Metropolis without requesting a canonical letter of release, a letter that we provide to every cleric who asks for it. It is fitting, Your Beatitude, to look wisely upon a harmful situation that is being created, a situation in which we are open to dialogue and cooperation. Peace and obedience cannot be established in this territory under such circumstances. We desire, Father Patriarch, to coexist in love and peace with the Metropolis of Bessarabia; we plead for constructive dialogue, but we have always encountered opacity and stubbornness, as some alleged counselors and pseudo-advisors of the Metropolis of Bessarabia, engaged in the work of reconciling our institutions, have continually sown discord and strife. Regrettably, the hierarch of this Metropolis has fallen prey to a group of influence that benefits from this conflict situation, guided by personal interests.

It’s necessary, Your Beatitude, for the Romanian Orthodox Church’s involvement in this bleeding wound to be one of healing, through the mediation of brotherly dialogue, by restoring communion, and by establishing canonical obedience. Money will not calm things in the territory between the Prut and Dniester Rivers. We wish that salvation and care for the faithful, not the canonical structure they belong to, would prevail, and for the good intentions of Your Beatitude not to turn the Metropolis of Bessarabia into a bottomless pit for the material resources of the Romanian Orthodox Church.

We hope that you will consider our paternal care for the people who are injured and mediate cooperation that will restore obedience and canonical order.

We pray to the Savior Christ, the Eternal High Priest, to grant you many years in the service of the Church and the Romanian people!

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