News 29 Jul 13

Romanian Priests Offer ‘Divine Car Insurance’

In a new scheme launched by Romania's highly popular Church, Orthodox priests can now say prayers for the safety of drivers and their cars.

Marian Chiriac

The Romanian Patriarchy has introduced a new blessing service which will see priests praying for the health of drivers and the safety of their cars and passengers.

The service was launched after numerous requests from drivers, the Church said. There is no fixed cost, with each believer paying “as much or as little as they want”. 

Romanian Orthodox Christians traditionally write down prayers in church, which are then given to priests to read out for a small fee. The prayers are traditionally for health, good examination results or happy marriages. It is also common practice for believers to ask priests to bless their houses.

Early this year, the Orthodox Church also started promoting government agricultural programmes to worshippers in church after mass. Priests are now telling worshippers in rural areas about financing programmes for agriculture, the advantages of farmers’ associations and other issues.

Officials said they were pleased to cooperate with the Church because it remains the most trusted institution in Romania.

More than 85 per cent of Romania's 19.5 million people belong to the Orthodox Church, which enjoyed a revival since Communism fell in 1989 and is strongly supported by around 67 per cent of Romanians, according to public opinion surveys.

In recent years, the Orthodox Church has started to use new media in order to stay close to believers, running a website, TV and radio stations and its own daily newspaper.

Despite its importance to many Romanians, the Orthodox Church has sometimes been accused of corruption and nepotism.

It has also been criticised for having taken an ambivalent stance towards the former Communist regime, with many bishops accused of lauding former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu and supporting his policies.

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