Romania’s Orthodox Church says that it doesn’t matter where Orthodox believers pray responding to a bishop who said it was “a sin” for Romanians to enter Catholic churches.
The statement from Teodosie, the Archbishop of Tomis on a radio program Thursday caused a stir and the Catholic church representative in Bucharest said he was “unpleasantly surprised” by the comments.
However, the spokesman for the Romanian Orthodox Church Vasile Banescu on Saturday clarified the church’s position and said that prayer had “no denominational or any other boundary.”
“Nowhere in the world can the old walls of theological differences block access to God through prayer which takes us beyond (the walls),” Father Banescu said.
He said praying in a different church to one’s confessions doesn’t “affect the identity of faith.”
Catholic spokesman Serban Tarciziu said Friday the they were taken aback by the comments because when Catholics are unable to find a Catholic church when they are abroad “we urge them to go to the closest Christian church. “
The eastern Orthodox churches and the Catholic church split about 1,000 years ago and tensions occasionally arise.
Still, Teodosie’s outspoken remarks telling Romanians that it was “a big sin” if they stepped into Catholic churches abroad caused more outrage than usual.
There are millions of Romanian living abroad, mainly in Western Europe, where there are fewer Orthodox churches than Catholic ones. Some Romanians pray or worship in non-Catholic churches.
More than 85% of Romanians are Orthodox Christians. Historically, there have been tensions between the two churches over church property and proselytizing.
The Communists banned the Catholic church when they came to power after World War II. The 1989 revolution brought religious freedoms back to Romania.
The Catholic and Orthodox churches, the two main Christian denominations, permanently split 1054 during the Great Schism over theological and political differences which had developed during the preceding centuries
Eastern and Western Christian churches follow different calendars and often celebrate Easter, a movable feast, on different dates.