Teoctist (Romanian pronunciation: [te.okˈtist], born Toader
Arăpașu; February 7, 1915 – July 30, 2007) was the
Romanian Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church
from 1986 to 2007.
Teoctist served his first years as patriarch under the Romanian
Communist regime, and was accused by some of collaboration. He offered
his resignation after the Romanian Revolution of 1989, but was soon
restored to office and served a further 17 years.
A promoter of ecumenical dialogue,
Teoctist invited Pope
John Paul II to visit
in 1999. It was the first visit of a
to a predominantly
country since the East-West
Schism of 1054.
1 Studies and ecclesiastic career
2 Ascension to the patriarchal chair
3 The 1989 Revolution
4 Activity after 1989
5.1 Football team
Studies and ecclesiastic career
He was born as the tenth of eleven children of Dumitru and Marghioala
Arăpașu, of Tocileni, Botoșani County. He attended the primary
school in Tocileni (1921–1927).
In 1928, Arăpașu became a novice at Sihăstria Voronei Hermitage,
and later at Vorona Monastery. He became a monk on 6 August 1935 at
the Bistrița-Neamț Monastery. In 1940, he began his studies at
Theology School at the University of Bucharest, from which he
graduated in 1945. On March 1, 1945, he was sent to Iași, where he
was ordained hieromonk on 25 March 1945, and archimandrite in 1946.
Between 1946 and 1947, he studied Literature and Philosophy at the
University of Iași.
At the beginning of 1947, the
Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox
Church revoked Arăpașu's archimandrite rank due to his pro-Communist
opinions, the decision being published in the official newsletter of
the Romanian Patriarchate, the "Biserica Ortodoxă Română".
Ascension to the patriarchal chair
In 1948, Justinian became
Romania and in 1950, Arăpașu
became patriarchal bishop-vicar, being the secretary of the Holy Synod
and the rector of the Theological Institute of
Bucharest between 1950
In 1962, Arăpașu was named Bishop of Arad. In 1963, an attempt to
make him the leader of the Romanian Orthodox community of the United
States failed after the U.S. authorities refused to grant him a visa.
In 1973, he became the Archbishop of
Craiova and Metropolitan of
Oltenia and in 1977 the Metropolitan of Moldavia and Suceava.
In 1986, he became the
Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church. He
was accused of obedience to the Communist authorities, culminating
with the approval of the demolition of 26 historic churches in
Bucharest. He sent many congratulatory telegrams to Nicolae
Ceaușescu, who also gave him many valuable old prints and other
heritage objects.
Between 1975 and 1989, he was also a member of Marea Adunare
Națională, the Romanian parliament. For instance, in the 1985
elections, he was elected to the Parliament, being the only candidate
who ran in the 9th electoral district -
being nominated by Gheorghe Zaharia, the Juridical Secretary of the
County People's Council. He was also a delegate to the Socialist
Unity and Democracy Front congresses and a member of Ceaușescu's
National Peace Committee.
Patriarch Teoctist of Romania
The 1989 Revolution
On 18 December 1989, at the start of the Romanian Revolution of 1989,
Holy Synod had a meeting in which Teoctist announced that he
agreed with the repression of the anti-communist movement in
Timișoara, claiming the events were caused by foreign
interference. He sent a telegram to Ceaușescu, praising him for
his "brilliant activity", "wise guidance", "daring thinking" and
claiming that the
Romanians live "in a golden age, properly and
righteously bearing [Ceaușescu's] name".
Just a few hours after the Ceaușescus fled, Teoctist signed his
resignation and fled incognito to the Sinaia Monastery, a location
allegedly suggested to him by Gelu Voican Voiculescu. On 18 January
Holy Synod of the
Romanian Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church accepted the
patriarch's resignation by announcing that he retired from his office,
without giving any motivation.
In April 1990, The
Holy Synod unanimously revoked its decision to
accept the resignation and Teoctist was reinstated, claiming that he
withdrew temporarily for health reasons. According to the
Tismăneanu Report, this has been seen by the Romanian intelligentsia
as a harmful event and the start of the neo-Communist restoration in
Activity after 1989
Pope John Paul II
After 1989, Arăpașu promoted religious education at all levels of
education and founded new theological seminaries as well as schools
for church singers, historical monument restoration, and other
specialties. He also organized foreign scholarships.
In May 1999,
Patriarch Teoctist received the visit of
Pope John Paul
II to Romania. This was the first time a
Pope had visited a
Eastern Orthodox country since the Great Schism in 1054,
the event that separated
Eastern Orthodoxy and Western Catholicism. On
his arrival, the
Patriarch and the President of Romania, Emil
Constantinescu, greeted the Pope. The
Patriarch stated, "The second
millennium of Christian history began with a painful wounding of the
unity of the Church; the end of this millennium has seen a real
commitment to restoring Christian unity." On 9 May, the
Pope and the
Patriarch each attended a worship service (an Orthodox Liturgy and a
Catholic Mass, respectively) conducted by the other. A crowd of
hundreds of thousands of people turned up to attend the worship
services, which were held in the open air.
In 2007, he criticized the Congregation for the Doctrine of the
Faith's declaration on "Subsistit in" in Lumen Gentium, saying "We
were stunned by such a statement, which troubles the entire Christian
In 1981, when he was the Metropolitan of Moldavia, Teoctist used money
Orthodox Church to sponsor the Politehnica
team and justified this as being an attempt to do something good for
the local community.
After 1989, various accusations were made in the Romanian press,
including that he was a collaborator of the Securitate, the political
police in Romania, that he allegedly was homosexual and that as a
"Legionnaire" (member of the "Legion of the Archangel Michael", an
extreme-right Orthodox nationalistic movement of the interwar period,
associated politically with the Iron Guard), he stored propaganda
materials at the Cernica and Căldărușani monasteries and that he
participated in the vandalizing of a
Bucharest synagogue. Accusing
Teoctist of having been both a Legionnaire and a Communist
collaborator is only an apparent contradiction, since numerous
Legionnaires, in principle fierce anti-Communists, ended up being
recruited by the
Securitate political police.
The last two accusations were based on a 1950 file found in the
archives of the Securitate. The official response of the Orthodox
Church was that the file was made by the Soviets with the intent of
destroying the Romanian Orthodox Church.
In July 2006, historian Stejărel Olaru said he found in the archives
Securitate documents which prove that Teoctist was an agent of
influence, who did propaganda for the Communist regime. The
accusations were publicly denied by the Church.
Patriarch died on July 30, 2007, after undergoing surgery for a
prostate adenoma at the Clinical Institute of Fundeni. The surgery
was not an emergency, but a scheduled operation. Along the day, the
news received suggested he was recovering. According to the doctors,
the death occurred following cardiac complications, at 17:00 (GMT+2).
Patriarch had a history of cardiac problems. His body was laid in
Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral
Romanian Patriarchal Cathedral in Bucharest.
After the session of the
Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church
the date of burial was set for Friday, August 3, 2007, at 11:00
(GMT+2) and took place at the Patriarchal Cathedral. PM Călin
Popescu-Tăriceanu announced that the Government decided the date to
be a National Day of Mourning. The burial place was chosen by the Holy
Synod of the
Romanian Orthodox Church
Romanian Orthodox Church to be the Patriarchal Cathedral
and the burial service was officiated by Ecumenical Patriarch
Bartholomew I, alongside Romanian Orthodox hierarchs and hierarchs
representing churches of the
Eastern Orthodox communion. After the
religious service, the
Patriarch was given state honors.
Delegations from 30 Orthodox Churches were present at the services.
Taking part in the funeral itself were representatives from the
churches of Constantinople, Albania, Russia, Bulgaria, Serbia,
Finland, Alexandria, Antioch, Jerusalem, Greece, Cyprus, Poland and
the Czech Republic. Also present were delegations from the Holy See,
different Christian denominations (Anglican, Armenian Apostolic,
Ethiopian Church and Syriac churches), other religious communities
Romania (The Romanian Muftiat) and Romanian political leaders.
About 8,000 people attended the funeral.
^ "Biserica Ortodoxă Română", no. 1-3 (January–March 1947).
^ a b (in Romanian)"Dosarul de cadre al Patriarhului Teoctist", in
Cotidianul, 22 August 2007
^ "Ultimii deputați comuniști ai Iașului", Ziarul de Iași, October
^ Stan and Turcescu, p. 34
^ a b c "Cumpăna Patriarhului", in România Liberă, 2 August 2007
^ a b Michael Bourdeaux, "Obituary:
Patriarch Teoctist", in The
Guardian, August 7, 2007
^ Presidential Commission for the Study of the Communist Dictatorship
in Romania, Final Report of the Presidential Commission for the Study
of the Communist Dictatorship in Romania, p. 467
Patriarch Teoctist of Romania: A Brutal Document
^ Cotidianul, Teoctist a bagat bani in fotbal, 5 May 2005
^ (in Romanian)
Observator Cultural "Patriarhul Teoctist: legionar
laureat ori comunist promovat?", January 2001
^ (in Romanian)BBC Romanian, Preoți colaboratori ai fostei
securități 28 July 2006
^ Observator de Bacău, 30 July 2007 Archived 19 August 2007 at the
^ "Head of Romanian Church Dies". London: guardian.co.uk. Archived
from the original on October 25, 2007.
Eastern Christianity portal
Teoctist Arăpașu in "Dicţionarul Teologilor Români"
România Liberă, "Ce ar fi trebuit sa stie ambasadorul Taubman cand
s-a dus la Patriarhie" 10 December 2005
Article about nuns being beaten by Teoctist's communist allies, April
Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu, "The Devil's Confessors: Priests,
Communists, Spies, and Informers", East European Politics and
Societies, 19 (2005), no. 4, 655–685. doi:10.1177/0888325404272454
Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu, Politics, national symbols and the
Romanian Orthodox Cathedral, Europe-Asia Studies, 8 (2006), no. 7,
1119-1139. OCLC 90228854
Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu, Religion and Politics in
Post-communist Romania, Oxford University Press, 2007.
Orthodox Church titles
Patriarch of All Romania
Heads of the Romanian Orthodox Church
Iosif Gheorghidan (first time)
Iosif Gheorghidan (second time)
ISNI: 0000 0000 8396 9888