Wcc, Church Admit Mistakes

Officials of both the World Council of Churches (WCC) and the Romanian Orthodox Church have acknowledged that neither body raised a stong enough protest against the regime of deposed dictator Nicolae Ceausescu. Emilio Castro, WCC general secretary, said, “We didn’t speak strongly enough, that is clear. That is the price we thought we needed to pay in order to help the human rights situation inside Romania.”

Likewise, an official message from the Romanian Orthodox Church, which represents about 80 percent of the country’s population, expressed “regret” that the church had not “publicly acknowledged the hidden pain and suffering of the Romanian people.” Church officials, led by Patriarch Teoctist, renounced Ceausescu after his fall.

But critics such as Keston College’s Michael Bourdeaux were not satisfied by the abrupt about-face. “A voice of prophecy” at the right time “might have saved bloodshed,” he said in a BBC interview. “Instead of warning against what was happening and getting the church leaders to take a stand, the church leaders spoke out in entire support of Ceausescu.” Bourdeaux cited several statements by Teoctist and other officials that offered praise and support for the former ruler.

Though Teoctist defended his actions as necessary to “prevent the church from obliteration,” he resigned in late January. Three bishops were left in charge of the church, but they too have come under sharp criticism for their roles during Ceausescu’s regime.

Immigration At Issue

Reacting to the recent record-breaking numbers of Soviet Jews moving to Israel (CT, March 5, 1990, p. 38), Arab leaders have called on Western governments to stop the Jewish immigration. The Arab League foreign ministers ...

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