Romania’s president slams plan to allow Orthodox faithful to receive ‘Holy Flame’ at Easter. ‘Stay at home, otherwise we’ll have funerals’

Inquam Photos / Ilona Andrei

Romania’s President Klaus Iohannis on Wednesday told the government to scrap an agreement it made with the powerful Romanian Orthodox Church which allows the faithful to receive the ‘Holy Flame’ at Easter.

“Let’s be very, very clear because perhaps not everyone has understood. The order is “stay at home,” during the coronavirus pandemic, Iohannis said.

„It’s regrettable to observe that there are a lot of intentions creating great complications, such as with this so-called agreement between the interior ministry and the Romanian Orthodox Church,” he said.

“I ask Prime Minister (Ludovic) Orban and the interior ministry to scrap the agreement,” he said, calling their explanations for the agreement “too optimistic.”

“Stay at home, otherwise we’ll have funerals.”

Church services were suspended in mid-March during the state of emergency to halt the spread of the new coronavirus, but there have been demands to open churches for Easter in the highly religious country.

Bowing to the demands, Interior Minister Marcel Vela said late Tuesday that the government had agreed to the waiver to “provide spiritual relief to all those who are going through hard times.”

Iohannis is due to hold a meeting with Orban, and a number of other key ministers later Wednesday to decide what further measures need to be taken during the state of emergency.

Vela said the aim of the agreement reached Tuesday was to “avoid a crush during the Resurrection evening.’

Some 87% of Romanians are Orthodox Christians and observe Easter this Sunday.


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