The top clerics of the Romanian Orthodox Church have called on Romanians to vote in upcoming elections following a meeting of the Holy Synod.
It was the first meeting since the death of Pimen, the Archbishop of Suceava and Radauti, who died on May 19 aged 90 after contracting the novel coronavirus. The election of his successor was one of the items on the agenda of Tuesday’s meeting.
Due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Synod was not held as usual in the Patriarchal residence, where Patriarch Daniel lives, but in the Patriarchal Palace.
The Holy Synod is the ecclesiastical governing body for the Romanian Orthodox Church and is formed of the patriarch and archbishops in charge of dioceses in Romania, together with Orthodox bishops of foreign bishoprics.
At the end of the meeting, the high-ranking clerics appealed to Romanians to vote in elections this fall, adding that while the church remained politically neutral, it wanted voters to elect officials who embraced Christian values.
“The Holy Synod reiterates that it remains neutral from a political point of view, but it urges all Orthodox citizens to manifest the right to vote taking into account criteria which aim for the good of the community and promote Christian values in society.”
The Union to Save Romania and satellite PLUS party, which are relative newcomers to the political scene, have been in opposition to traditional values promoted by the church. More than 87% of Romanians belong to the influential church.
In a secret vote, Father Calinic Botosaneanul, the bishop-vicar of the Iasi Archbishop, was selected to succeed Pimen as the Archbishop of Suceava and Radauti.
The Synod also decided to add two new dates to the 2021 calendar: the Saints’ Day, on the third Sunday after Easter, and the Sunday of Christian Women and the Sunday of the Christian Family to be celebrated around May 15.
The Synod noted its appreciation for a the establishment of a day to commemorate the Brancoveni martyrs, who were persecuted for their Christian faith.
Romania’s parliament voted to mark the date on August 16, which the church says will raise public awareness of violent attacks on Christians.
The clerics reiterated that Holy Communion would be celebrated with a single chalice and consecrated spoon. The question about how the Eucharist was ministered came after concerns that the coronavirus could be spread at large church services where congregants all took the communion wine from the same spoon.
The Romanian Patriarchy said it had offered financial assistance of about 21 million lei during the pandemic and donated 4,617 tablets and other electronic devices to pupils and teachers following an appeal from the education ministry.
Patriarh Daniel thanked Orthodox cleric for their support and dialogue with authorities during the pandemic and asked priests to respect health rules during the crisis.