The Bioethical and Therapeutic Dimensions of Faith and Science
Alba Iulia
May, 13-15, 2024


Christian Life during the Communist Regime. Surviving into a hostile atheistic system

This panel puts forward analyses subordinated to the objective of a historical recovery of the tensions between Christianity and the atheist communism in Romania during a period of more than half a century, a period quasi-finalised in 1989. Under the cover of the so-called revolutionary radical theory, often instituted through coups d’état, the whole population was obliged through blackmail and terror to become obedient  to the power and to the party ideology, otherwise they had to choose prison and social marginalisation – the only opytion for the people’s enemies. Atheist communism restricted the possibilities of expression of the Church in boundaries often considered by most theologians as liturgical ghetto spaces. The marginalisation of the Church by excluding it from the public sector, the controlled space of the moments of the cult, contracting the institutional structure of the Church represent a minimal inventory concerning the situation of the Church during communism. The topic requires strictness both at the level of historical research and at the level of the Christian conscience and moral. We invite you to take part in research dealing with martirologies, convictions, disclosures, experiences, directions, culture, politics, religion, stage of research.

In the Belly of the Beast. Confessing Christ into the Prison darkness

Communism filled heaven with saints, Father Arsenie Papacioc used to say, an affirmation doubled by a previous confession coming from metropolitan Dosoftei of Moldavia: among Romanians there are saints…only they were not looked for. Crossing the two affirmations results in a vectorial responsibility of contemporaneity to recover the archetypal memory of the Church, memory constructed on the experience of martyrdom in the communist prisons. The symposium invites you to investigate the ways of recovering those moments of intense spiritual experience from the perspective of martyrological hagiography. The encounter between the atheist political philosophy of the communist imported from the Soviet Union through the distorted introduction of the anthropology of homo sovieticus and Christianity on Romanian land involves persecutions and inflictions in which great consciences were sifted. People having different affiliations from a religious, political, social or cultural point of view have created a dogmatic and martyric conscience of the twentieth century. Who are the confessors? What was their experience in knowing their own self in a direct relation with Christ and the values of Christianity? Does suffering open a new way of understanding ecumenism?

What Choice for the Church? Between Scylla and Charybdis . . .

The Bolshevik Revolution in 1917 unleashed a real frenzy of violence and murder, whose victims were all the real or presumed opponents to the new regime, intending to apply a new political philosophy and anthropology from the perspective of homo sovieticus. The state, fighting against God and His creation, promoted a situation the Church could not agree with or adjust to. When the communist regime was established in Romania through the imposition of the Petru Groza government (March 6, 1945), the Romanian Orthodox Church  was in a defensive position. Knowing its inter-war anti-communist past, the new political regime encountered difficulties as concerns adjusting the Church to the soviet model which had to be taken and applied thoroughly. For the Romanian Orthodox Church, but also for the other cults, the new social and political circumstances were absolutley new, it had never faced a radically hostile social and political partner. In this situation, knowing the sad experience of the Russian Orthodox Church, which had almost succumbed to the confrontation with this implacable adversary, communism, the Orthodox Church had to choose a direction, a policy in relating to the new regime. What were the adaptative strategies of the Church? Mission? Purpose? What were the themes which configured this type of relation?

The Chalice of hope. The Eucharist as energizer during political storms

In the prologue of his memories from prison (The Diary of Happiness), Father Nicolae Steindhardt considered that in order to escape any concentrationist universe and acquire complete inner freedom there exist only three solutions: (1) abandoning any hope for this world, that is assuming death before dying (Solzhenitsyn), (2) the total non-adaptation to the system (Alexander Zinoviev) and (3) the radical confrontation of the system, against any logical reason (W. Churchill).

And yet, beyond this conclusion, N. Steindhardt builds his Diary of Happiness as a fourth solution – the solution of faith. And maybe having the same reason, another pilgrim in the communist prisons declared:  “I cannot and I do not want to forget the prison. It is there that I experienced the most uplifting spiritual moments in my life. There I was born again and God allowed me to experience numerous miracles, to know His power.” (Fr. Ioan Iovan)

Faith and the Eucharist were for many of those who tasted the bitterness of the communist system the redeeming solution: “I never missed the Liturgy and the Eucharist, not even in prison, where I sewed the Holy Antimension on the back of my undervest , the wine was brought by a doctor in a bottle of tonic wine, and the bread and the water were taken from the food we received…”(Fr. Ioan Iovan).