Romania’s embattled Patriarch Daniel makes ‘call to prayer’ urges ‘concern for health’

Patriarhul Daniel. Sursa: INQUAM/George Călin

The patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church on Thursday issued a call to prayer and asked people to pray for health, respect pandemic restrictions and listen to medics’ advice as Covid cases and deaths reached all-time highs.

”In this very challenging period,  the country faces the most intense wave of the pandemic so far which is suffocating ICUs and hospitals,” Patriarch Daniel said in his message.

Orthodox believers

“The Romanian patriarchy urges all the faithful and clerics to intensify prayer and to respect measures recommended by medical authorities. (They should) listen to doctors’ recommendations who are working to ease the suffering of sick people.” reported. Some 87% of Romanians are Orthodox believers.

His call to prayer came a day after Recorder published an investigative report which claimed that the influential church has spent 1.3 billion lei in the past 13 years in Bucharest, using contractors who have connections to politicians who control public funds.

The eight-month investigation said there was a shadowy network in which business people, politicians and senior church cleric share lucrative business interests in building and rehabilitating of churches with public money.

‘The Great White’

Recorder reported the network operates with the blessing of Patriarch Daniel, 70, who is called the ‘Great White’ by insiders, a reference to his flowing white robes and an allusion to the great white shark.

A politician and a vicar resigned in the wake of the report.

Church spokesman Vasile Banescu however said the investigation was flawed and biased, and its aim was to harm the church’s image. He said journalists for example failed to mention that the church spent 38 million euros last year on social welfare, victims of the pandemic and others.

Public funding

All registered churches in Romania are eligible for public funding.  The Romanian Orthodox Church is by far the largest church and receives the most money. The subsidies cover priests salaries and the upkeep of buildings.

The patriarch ended his message saying: “Life and health are gifts from God. They should be cherished and cultivated with care, modesty and wisdom for personal and family benefit, and the good of society.”

He was elected patriarch in 2007.

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