Analysis 21 Apr 17

Orthodox Church Starts Flexing its Muscles in Romania

Organizations linked to Romania's powerful Orthodox Church are mobilizing with growing success against a liberal political agenda by catching the conservative mood sweeping the country.

Ana Maria Touma
The People's Redemption Cathedral in Bucharest, under construction. Photo: Fusion-of-horizons/Flickr

The decision of the Romanian Orthodox Church to spend 425,000 euros on a 25-ton bell engraved with Patriarch Daniel’s portrait for the People’s Redemption Cathedral - planned to be the biggest and tallest Orthodox Church in the world - has stirred fresh controversy about the role of religion in the country.  

The bell will arrive in Romania in mid-May, but pictures of it emerged before Easter after a delegation from the Patriarchate travelled to the bell-production facility in Austria to bless it.

The cost of the bell and the engraved portrait of the Patriarch reopened a debate about the status of the Romanian Church in the country, which has been bubbling away since the Church started construction of the lavish edifice in 2007.

The building is designed to be 120 meters high and 126 meters long. The complex should include two hotels, four anti-nuclear bunkers, a soup kitchen able to serve 1,000 people and a parking lot for at least 500 cars. The cost of construction is set between 100 and 200 million euros.

The need for such a lavish cathedral - deemed to be Romania’s most complex construction project in 27 years - has been hotly debated for a decade.

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