„Will no one rid me of this turbulent priest?” Those were the words apparently spoken by Henry II of England in 1170 preceding the death of Thomas Becket, the Archbishop of Canterbury.
The situation in Romania’s Orthodox Church hasn’t t reach that level of drama. But a row in the usually opaque Byzantine church made headlines on Thursday after Patriarch Daniel issued a stinging rebuke to the Archbishop of Tomis, Teodosie.
The populist Teodosie whose antics include riding a horse-drawn chariot through his diocese and holding the 2020 Easter service several weeks late due to pandemic restrictions, had formally applied to have his bishopric upgraded to an archbishopric or archdiocese.
The patriarch refused the request and also sent a letter replete with reproaches to the errant bishop who has constantly flouted lockdown rules and been in the spotlight in recent months.
The case takes on added significance as it has become public. That is likely a sign of the deep rift between the two senior Orthodox cleric, as well as the patriarch’s desire to assert his authority.
In his letter, Daniel slammed Teodosie for “a spirit of indiscipline and mutiny.” He said he struck a discordant note by flouting the official church line on the pandemic.
This year, the church has been cooperative with the government’s efforts to limit the spread of the pandemic and to encourage vaccination.
The letter got worse: the patriarch has accused Teodosie of appointing people who have plagiarized their doctoral theses to key posts, and of failing to pay a debt to the church to the tune of almost half a million lei.
The patriarch concluded: “The request by the Archbishop of Tomis is insufficiently argued… as it is not a missionary necessity, but rather a personal ambition.”
There was no immediate reaction from Teodosie.
More than 85% of Romanians are Christian Orthodox.