Romanian Orthodox intellectuals petition for Eastern and Western churches to synchronize Easter

Foto: INQUAM / Cosmin Enache

A group of Romanian intellectuals have signed a petition calling for the Eastern Orthodox Church and the Catholic and Protestant churches to celebrate Easter on the same day to make a show of unity in a world pressurized by secularism.

Former Romanian foreign minister Teodor Baconschi, also a former ambassador to the Vatican. and professor Adrian Papahagi, who are both regarded as close to the Romanian Orthodox Church, were the initiators of the petition. Well-known intellectual Andrei Plesu and poet Ana Blandiana were among the signatories.

The petition was sent on Sunday to the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church and to the National Church Assembly regarding unity in the celebration of Easter between the Romanian Orthodox Church and the Catholic Church.

Easter is a movable feast.  Catholics and Protestants celebrate it on the first Sunday after the first full moon after the spring equinox using the Gregorian calendar while Orthodox Christians  continue to use the older Julian calendar to calculate the date of Easter meaning it is usually, but not always, later.

This year Catholics celebrated Easter on April 9 and Orthodox marked it a week later. Next year, there will be a five-week gap between the Easters with Catholics and Protestant Easter marking it on March 31 and Orthodox Easter on May 5.

“We would like to take an important step towards the much more complicated reunification of the Church of Christ,” say the signatories, who argue celebrating on different dates disrupts people’s lives.

They stated that Council of Nicaea in 325, „which is one of the cornerstones of Orthodoxy, established that the Christian Church was one, universal and apostolic and would celebrate Jesus’ Resurrection on the same Sunday.”

It said that the Eastern and Western churches later became “snared in calculations which are wrong or incoherent_ both sides,” the document reads.

According to its signatories, „calendar differences exist between the Orthodox East and the Catholic or Protestant West, and even within the Orthodox world.”

“We know of the difficulty of synchronizing the calendar, which can only be done through interfaith and intra-Orthodox dialogue, but this does not excuse the celebration of the same event to take place on different dates in the various churches. Fortunately, the celebration of Easter on different dates does not raise dogmatic problems, for all Christians identically confess the Resurrection of the Lord. Unfortunately, however, it affects people’s lives and creates divisions or problems”, say the signatories of the letter.


„It would be nice to celebrate the Resurrection of the Lord together, Orthodox, Catholic and Protestant, at least starting in 2025, when the 1700th anniversary of the Council of Nicaea will be celebrated (…) Achieving this goal would also make  a coherent pastoral and missionary impact in a Christian world under the often aggressive pressure of secularism.”







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