Church Unity Cracks under Regime Pressure

Recent arrests of Christians in Romania appear to signal a major tightening of control by the Romanian police. Targets of the crackdown are religious dissidents and unauthorized preachers.

• Pavel Nicolescu, founder of the Christian Committee for the Defense of Religious Freedom, is being pressured by authorities to emigrate. The CCDRF was founded in 1978 to gather and disseminate information on infringements of religious freedom in Romania. Its program calls for free religion in a free state.

• Romanian Orthodox priest Georghe Calciu, imprisoned since March 10, has been interrogated continuously, according to an eyewitness, for four days at a stretch without sleep or food. His own church has apparently washed its hands of him. In a recent interview in the United States, Patriarch Justinian said he knew nothing about him, even though it is known that Orthodox Theological Seminary students wrote three appeals to him.

Calciu ran afoul of authorities through his support of the CCDRF and of a free Trade Union movement even though he is a member of neither group.

Imprisoned for fifteen years (1948–1964) as a political prisoner under a harsh regime at Pitesti Prison, Calciu saw many fellow students die there. He offered himself for the priesthood in thanks to God for his survival, and was ordained in 1973 at age forty-six. Calciu was assigned to a teaching post at the seminary. In 1977 he criticized in a chapel sermon the demolition of Bucharest’s famous Enea Church. Later, in a sermon in the Patriarchal Cathedral, he labeled atheism “a philosophy of despair.”

Despite warnings against such outbursts, he called on students, in the spring of 1978, to “rebuild Enea Church within your hearts.” ...

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