Romanian Greek Catholic Church

Last updated
Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic

Biserica Română Unită cu Roma, Greco-Catolică
Catedrala Blaj.jpg
Country Romania
TerritoryRomania, United States and Canada
Metropolitan Blaj
- Total

150,593 (2011 Census) or 663,807 (2012 Annuario Pontificio )
Denomination Greek Catholicism
Rite Byzantine Rite
Established1698, formalized 1700
outlawed in 1948
allowed March 14, 1990
Current leadership
Pope Francis
Bishop Lucian Mureșan
Romanian Greek-Catholic (Uniate) Church map.svg

The Romanian Greek Catholic Church or Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic (Romanian : Biserica Română Unită cu Roma, Greco-Catolică) is a sui iuris Eastern Catholic Church, in full union with the Roman Catholic Church. It has the rank of a Major Archiepiscopal Church and it uses the Byzantine liturgical rite in the Romanian language. It is part of the Major Archiepiscopal Churches of the Catholic Church that are not distinguished with a patriarchal title.

Romanian language Romance language

Romanian is a Balkan Romance language spoken by approximately 24–26 million people as a native language, primarily in Romania and Moldova, and by another 4 million people as a second language. It is an official and national language of each of Romania and Moldova. In addition, it is also one of the official languages of the European Union.

Sui iuris, also spelled as sui juris, is a Latin phrase that literally means "of one's own right". It is used in both civil law and canon law by the Catholic Church. The term church sui iuris is used in the Catholic Code of Canons of the Eastern Churches (CCEO) to denote the autonomous churches in Catholic communion:

A church sui iuris is "a community of the Christian faithful, which is joined together by a hierarchy according to the norm of law and which is expressly or tacitly recognized as sui iuris by the supreme authority of the Church" (CCEO.27). The term sui iuris is an innovation of the CCEO, and it denotes the relative autonomy of the oriental Catholic Churches. This canonical term, pregnant with many juridical nuances, indicates the God-given mission of the Oriental Catholic Churches to keep up their patrimonial autonomous nature. And the autonomy of these churches is relative in the sense that it is under the supreme authority of the Roman Pontiff.

Byzantine Rite liturgical rite of most Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic churches

The Byzantine Rite, also known as the Greek Rite or Constantinopolitan Rite, is the liturgical rite used by the Eastern Orthodox Church, the Greek/Byzantine Catholic churches, and in a modified form, Byzantine Rite Lutheranism. Its development began during the fourth century in Constantinople and it is now the second most-used ecclesiastical rite in Christendom after the Roman Rite.


Cardinal Lucian Mureșan, Archbishop of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, has served as the head of the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church since 1994. On December 16, 2005, as the Romanian Church United with Rome, the Greek-Catholic church was elevated to the rank of a Major Archiepiscopal Church by Pope Benedict XVI, with Lucian Mureșan becoming its first major archbishop. Mureşan was eventually created a cardinal, at the Consistory of February 18, 2012.

Lucian Mureșan is the first and current Major Archbishop of the Greek Catholic Archdiocese of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia and a cardinal of the Catholic Church. As Major Archbishop of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, he is the head of the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic.

Major archbishop position

In the Eastern Catholic Churches, major archbishop is a title for the chief hierarch of an autonomous particular Church that has not been "endowed with the patriarchal title". Major archbishops generally have the same rights, privileges, and jurisdiction as Eastern Catholic patriarchs, except where expressly provided otherwise, and rank immediately after them in precedence of honor.

Papal consistory meeting of the College of Cardinals called by the Pope

In the Roman Catholic Church a consistory is a formal meeting of the College of Cardinals called by the pope. There are two kinds of consistories, extraordinary and ordinary. An "extraordinary" consistory is held to allow the pope to consult with the entire membership of the College of Cardinals. An "ordinary" consistory is ceremonial in nature and attended by cardinals resident in Rome. For example, the pope elevates new cardinals to the College at a consistory; Pope Francis has called consistories for ceremonies of canonization.

Besides the Archeparchy of Fǎgǎraș and Alba Iulia, there are five more Greek-Catholic eparchies in Romania (Eparchy of Oradea Mare, Eparchy of Cluj-Gherla, Eparchy of Lugoj, Eparchy of Maramureș, and Eparchy of Saint Basil the Great of Bucharest), [1] as well as one eparchy overseas, the Romanian Catholic Eparchy of St George's in Canton, answering directly to the Major Archbishop and the Holy See, in the United States of America and Canada. [2]

The Eparchy of St George's in Canton is a Romanian Greek-Catholic eparchy based in Canton, Ohio, United States. The current eparch is John Michael Botean. The eparchy's cathedral church is St. George Cathedral, Canton, Ohio. The boundaries of the eparchy stretch across the continental United States and Canada. The easternmost presence is a mission in Boston, MA and the westernmost is a mission in Los Angeles, CA. There are fourteen Romanian Catholic parishes and five missions in the United States, as well as two parishes in Canada.

United States Federal republic in North America

The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States or America, is a country comprising 50 states, a federal district, five major self-governing territories, and various possessions. At 3.8 million square miles, the United States is the world's third or fourth largest country by total area and is slightly smaller than the entire continent of Europe, which is 3.9 million square miles. With a population of over 327 million people, the U.S. is the third most populous country. The capital is Washington, D.C., and the most populous city is New York City. Most of the country is located contiguously in North America between Canada and Mexico.

Canada Country in North America

Canada is a country in the northern part of North America. Its ten provinces and three territories extend from the Atlantic to the Pacific and northward into the Arctic Ocean, covering 9.98 million square kilometres, making it the world's second-largest country by total area. Its southern border with the United States, stretching some 8,891 kilometres (5,525 mi), is the world's longest bi-national land border. Canada's capital is Ottawa, and its three largest metropolitan areas are Toronto, Montreal, and Vancouver.

According to data published in the 2016 Annuario Pontificio , the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church had 504,280 members, 8 bishops, 1,225 parishes, some 835 diocesan priests and 235 seminarians of its own rite at the end of 2012. [3] However, according to the 2011 Romanian government census, the number of its followers living in Romania was as low as 150,593, of which 124,563 are ethnic Romanians. [4] The dispute over this figure is mentioned in the United States Department of State report on religious freedom in Romania. [5]

<i>Annuario Pontificio</i> annual directory of the Holy See

The Annuario Pontificio is the annual directory of the Holy See of the Catholic Church. It lists all the popes to date and all officials of the Holy See's departments. It also gives complete lists with contact information of the cardinals and Catholic bishops throughout the world, the dioceses, the departments of the Roman Curia, the Holy See's diplomatic missions abroad, the embassies accredited to the Holy See, the headquarters of religious institutes, certain academic institutions, and other similar information. The index includes, along with all the names in the body of the book, those of all priests who have been granted the title of "Monsignor". As the title suggests, the red-covered yearbook, compiled by the Central Statistics Office of the Church and published by Libreria Editrice Vaticana, is mostly in Italian.

United States Department of State United States federal executive department responsible for foreign affairs

The United States Department of State (DOS), commonly referred to as the State Department, is a federal executive department responsible for carrying out U.S. foreign policy and international relations. Established in 1789 as the nation's first executive department, its duties include advising the U.S. President, administering the nation's diplomatic missions, negotiating treaties and agreements with foreign entities, and representing the U.S. at the United Nations.

In addition, there are five other Catholic dioceses in Romania, belonging to the Latin Church, whose members are more numerous.

Latin Church Automonous particular church making up of most of the Western world Catholics

The Latin Church, also known as the Western Church or the Roman Catholic Church, is the largest particular church sui iuris of the Catholic Church, employing the Latin liturgical rites. It is one of 24 such churches, the 23 others forming the Eastern Catholic Churches. It is headed by the bishop of Rome, the pope – traditionally also called the Patriarch of the West – with cathedra in this role at the Archbasilica of Saint John Lateran in Rome, Italy. The Latin Church traces its history to the earliest days of Christianity through its direct leadership under the Holy See, founded by Peter and Paul, according to Catholic tradition.


The Greek-Catholic Church in Medias, built by bishop Ioan Bob Biserica Bob din Medias.jpg
The Greek-Catholic Church in Mediaş, built by bishop Ioan Bob
The former Greek-Catholic Church in Sibiu, built by bishop Grigore Maior Biserica sf.Petru si Pavel (2).jpg
The former Greek-Catholic Church in Sibiu, built by bishop Grigore Maior

Following the Habsburg conquest of Transylvania in 1687, Metropolitan Atanasie Anghel entered into full communion with the See of Rome by the Act of Union of 1698, that was formalized by a synod of bishops on September 4, 1700. [6]

Atanasie Anghel Romanian Greek-Catholic bishop of Alba Iulia between 1698 and 1713

Atanasie Anghel Popa, was a Romanian Greek-Catholic bishop of Alba Iulia between 1698 and 1713. He was the successor to Teophilus Seremi in the seat of Mitropoliei Bălgradului (Alba-Iulia). Through his continued efforts, he perfected the union of the Romanian Transylvanians with the Catholic Church.

Holy See Episcopal jurisdiction of the Catholic Church in Rome, Italy

The Holy See, also called the See of Rome, refers to the jurisdiction of the Bishop of Rome, known as the pope, which includes the apostolic episcopal see of the Diocese of Rome with universal ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the worldwide Catholic Church, as well as a sovereign entity of international law.

By entering into the Union, Atanasie and the other bishops, along with their respective dioceses, accepted the supreme authority of the Pope, while at the same time being granted the right to keep their own Greek Byzantine liturgical rite. A Diploma issued by the Emperor Leopold I declared that Transylvania's Romanian Orthodox Church is one with the Roman Catholic Church. Transylvanian Romanians were therefore encouraged to convert to Catholicism and join the newly created Greek-Catholic Church, while being able to retain the Byzantine rite, if at the same time they accepted four doctrinal points promulgated by the Council of Florence (1431 and 1445): the supreme authority of the Pope over the entire church; the existence of Purgatory; the Filioque clause; and the validity of the use of unleavened bread in the celebration of the Eucharist in the Latin Church (Eastern Orthodox had contended that Roman Catholic use of unleavened bread was erroneous).

The step undertaken by Metropolitan Atanasie Anghel and his Holy Synod obtained for the ethnic Romanians of Transylvania (then part of the Habsburg Monarchy) equal rights with those of the other Transylvanian nations, which were part of the Unio Trium Nationum: the Hungarian nobility, the Transylvanian Saxons, and the Székely. This event coincided with the arrival of the Jesuits in Transylvania, who attempted to align this province more closely with Western Europe. However, most Romanians were not willing to convert, [7] and this in turn led to the formation of Romanian Orthodox movements that advocated for freedom of worship for the entire Transylvanian population – most notable the movements led by Visarion Sarai, Nicolae Oprea Miclăuş, and Sofronie of Cioara, under the influence of the dominant Serbian Church.

In 1721, the Bishop's Residence was moved from Alba Iulia to Făgăraș, and eventually to Blaj (1737). Following this change, Blaj became a center of learning and national awakening for all Romanians.[ citation needed ]. [8]

In 1761, Petru Pavel Aron (1709–1764), the Bishop of Făgăraș and head of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church, translated Biblia Vulgata into Romanian. While the Romanian Orthodox kept Church Slavonic as the official liturgical language till 1863, the Romanian Church United with Rome has been using the Romanian vernacular ever since its inception. In the 19th century, during a time when the Hungarian government was pursuing a Magyarization policy in Transylvania, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church, with the aid of the Transylvanian School (Școala Ardeleană) and the Transylvanian Memorandum, played a prominent role in resisting ethnic assimilation attempts. Moreover, many leading figures of the Romanian emancipation movement in Transylvania, such as Simion Bărnuțiu and Iuliu Maniu, began their careers as lay servants of the Greek-Catholic Church.

Additional Greek-Catholic Eparchies were eventually set up at Oradea (1777), as well as Gherla and Lugoj (1853); Blaj, under the title of Eparchy of Alba Iulia and Făgăraș, became the Metropolitan (i.e. Archiepiscopal) See. On December 16, 2005, the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church was elevated to the rank of Major Archiepiscopal Church.

Persecution under Communism

After assuming political power in 1948, the Communist regime, rooted in Marxist–Leninist atheism, deposed all 12 bishops of the Greek-Catholic Church on Stalin's orders. Moreover, on October 21, 1948, the 250th anniversary of the Romanian Greek Catholic Union with the Roman Catholic Church, the regime arranged for the "voluntary" and "spontaneous" transfer of all members of the Greek-Catholic Church (decree 358/1948), that numbered some 1,500,000[ citation needed ] at the time, to the Romanian Orthodox Church; furthermore, the property rights over many of the Greek-Catholic Church's possessions, including its four cathedrals, were transferred to the Romanian Orthodox Church, while the remainder of those properties were confiscated by the State. [9]

The Greek-Catholic bishops, along with many of their priests, were accused by the newly installed Communist authorities of "antidemocratic activity". After refusing to give up their ties with the "reactionary" Holy See, they were imprisoned. At about the same time, the Orthodox Church was being "purged" of priests hostile to the Communist regime. Following this purge, the Orthodox hierarchy enjoyed good relations with the Communist authorities for the remainder of the Communist Rule of Romania.

Greek-Catholics in Transylvania (1850 census) Greco-catolici Transilvania 1850.png
Greek-Catholics in Transylvania (1850 census)
Greek-Catholics in Banat, Crisana, Maramures, and Transylvania (1930 census) Greco-catolici Romania (1930).png
Greek-Catholics in Banat, Crișana, Maramureș, and Transylvania (1930 census)
Greek-Catholics in Romania (2002 census) Greco-catolici Romania (2002).png
Greek-Catholics in Romania (2002 census)
Greek-Catholic presence, according to the 2002 census Greek-catholics in Romania 2002.jpg
Greek-Catholic presence, according to the 2002 census

Iuliu Hossu, Bishop of Cluj, turned down a proposal of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch, Iustinian Marina, to convert to Orthodoxy and be named Orthodox Archbishop of Iaşi and metropolitan of Moldavia, and thereby become the official successor of the Romanian Orthodox Patriarch himself. Consequently, Hossu remained under house arrest. Year after year, he sent Memorandums to the President of the Republic, requesting that the country's laws and international agreements be observed with regard to the Romanian Greek-Catholic Church. In 1969, Pope Paul VI asked Hossu to accept an appointment to the cardinalate. As Hossu was reluctant to leave his people, the Pope created him a Cardinal only "in pectore", i.e. without publishing the fact, that was only revealed on March 5, 1973, three years after Bishop Hossu's death. [11]

Another remarkable Romanian Greek-Catholic ecclesiastic of the time was Alexandru Todea (1912–2002). Secretly (in pectore) consecrated as a titular bishop on November 19, 1950, he was arrested and the following year he received a sentence of life in prison. He was granted amnesty in 1964. On March 14, 1990, after the fall of the Communist regime, he was appointed Archbishop of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, and was created a Cardinal the following year. [12]

After more than 40 years of clandestine existence, the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic re-emerged publicly, in the wake of the Romanian Revolution. Normative act 9/31, passed on December 31, 1989, repealed Decree 358/1948 (that outlawed the Greek-Catholic Church) as repugnant and bringing grave prejudice upon the Romanian State.

Only after much struggle and considerable delays, some of the Church's properties, in particular the cathedrals of Cluj, Blaj, Lugoj, and Oradea, were restored to their rightful owner. However, much of the original property remains in Romanian Orthodox or government hands, as the persecution started in 1948 has led to a marked reduction in the numbers of Romanian Greek Catholic faithful. After 40 years of Communist rule and forced assimilation into the regime-approved Orthodox Church, numerous Romanian cradle Greek-Catholics remained in the Romanian Orthodox Church, and it is unclear how many of these nominal Orthodox members remain crypto-Catholic, especially in northern Transylvania where most Greek Catholics lived (as shown on the maps to the right). The Romanian Catholic Church United with Rome is still undergoing a process of recovery from the wounds inflicted by the Communist rulers and the forced merger.

Property issues since the fall of Communism

Since the fall of Communism, Church leaders have claimed that the Romanian Greek-Catholic Community is facing a cultural and religious wipe-out: the Greek-Catholic churches are allegedly being destroyed by representatives of the Romanian Orthodox Church, whose actions allegedly enjoy not only the acceptance, but also the support of the Romanian authorities. [13] [ better source needed ]


Ecclesiastical Province of Fagaras and Alba Iulia

Immediately subject to the Holy See

See also

Related Research Articles

Iuliu Hossu Cardinal, romanian greek-catholic bishop of Cluj-Gherla

Blessed Iuliu Hossu was a Romanian Greek-Catholic prelate who served as the Bishop of Cluj-Gherla. Pope Paul VI elevated Hossu to the rank of cardinal in pectore, that is, secretly, in 1969 but did not publish his appointment until after Hossu's death. The Communist authorities arrested Bishop Hossu on 28 October 1948. From 1950 to 1955 he was detained as political prisoner at the Sighet prison. He spent the rest of his life under house arrest and died in 1970.

Romanian Greek Catholic Major Archeparchy of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia archdiocese

The Archeparchy of Făgăraș and Alba Iulia, in Romanian Arhieparhia de Făgăraș și Alba Iulia, is the only archeparchy of the Romanian Church United with Rome. Its Metropolitan, who holds the rank of Major Archbishop, is the head of the whole Greek-Catholic Church of Romania, where all other dioceses are his suffragans; only the diocese in America, the Eparchy of St. George is exempt. The Eparchy of St. George does take part in the Synod.

Alexandru Sterca-Șuluțiu romanian greek-catholic archbishop

Alexandru Sterca-Șuluțiu, also called Alexandru Sterca-Șuluțiu de Cărpiniș, was an ethnic Romanian Eastern Catholic cleric in Imperial Austrian Transylvania, and the Metropolitan of the Transylvanian Greek Catholic Church. He was the brother of 1848 revolutionary commander Ioan Sterca-Șuluțiu.

Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Cluj-Gherla eparchy

The Greek Catholic Diocese of Cluj-Gherla is a diocese of the Byzantine Rite of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church. It is a suffragan of the Archdiocese of Făgăraș și Alba Iulia.

Catholic Church in Romania

The Catholic Church in Romania is part of the worldwide Catholic Church, under the spiritual leadership of the Pope in Rome. The administration for the Latin Church is centered in Bucharest, and comprises two archdioceses and four other dioceses. It is the second largest Romanian denomination after the Romanian Orthodox Church, and one of the 16 state-recognized religions. Overall data for 2011 indicated that there were 870,774 Romanian citizens adhering to the Catholic Church. Of these, the largest groups were Hungarians, Romanians, Germans and Slovaks.

Hungarian Catholic Archeparchy of Hajdúdorog Hungarian (byzantine) catholic eparchy of Hajdúdorog in full communion with Rome

The Hungarian (Greek) Catholic Archeparchy of Hajdúdorog is a Metropolitan Archeparchy of the Hungarian Greek Catholic Church.

Romanian Catholic Eparchy of Oradea Mare

The Greek Catholic diocese of Oradea Mare is the Eparchy of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church for the area of Oradea.

Ioan Lemeni Bishop of Făgăraş-Alba Iulia

Ioan Lemeni was Bishop of Făgăraş and Primate of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1833 to his resignation in 1850.

Romanian Catholic Diocese of Maramureș diocese

The Greek Catholic Eparchy of Maramureș was founded as a consequence of the Concordate between the Holy See and The Romanian State concluded on May 10, 1927 and ratified on June 10, 1929.

Virgil Bercea Bishop of the Greek Catholic Diocese of Oradea Mare

Virgil Bercea is the Bishop of the Diocese of Oradea Mare of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church since 1997.

Grigore Maior Romanian bishop

Grigore Gavrila Maior, O.S.B.M. was Bishop of Făgăraş and Primate of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1773 to his resignation in 1782.

Valeriu Traian Frențiu Romanian greek-catholic bishop

Blessed Valeriu Traian Frențiu was the Bishop of the Eparchy of Oradea Mare of the Romanian Greek Catholic Church from 1922 to 1952. His beatification occurred on 2 June 2019.

Vasile Aftenie romanian greek-catholic bishop

Blessed Vasile Aftenie was a Romanian Auxiliary bishop of the Greek-Catholic Church, titular Bishop of Ulpiana, martyr of the faith and Servant of God of the Catholic Church.

Alexandru Nicolescu Romanian bishops

Alexandru Nicolescu was a Romanian bishop of the Greek-Catholic Church. Born in Tulgheș, Harghita County, Transylvania, he studied at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples in Rome from 1898 to 1904, earning a doctorate in Philosophy and Theology. Returning to Blaj, he was sent as a missionary priest to North America. Once back in Transylvania, he taught of moral theology at the Blaj Theological Seminary.

Victor Mihaly de Apşa, commonly Victor Mihali, was an ethnic Romanian Austro-Hungarian bishop of the Greek-Catholic Church. Born to an old noble family in Ieud, Maramureş County, he attended a Piarist primary school in Sighetu Marmaţiei and high school in Oradea, Trnava and Košice. After graduating in 1857, he was sent to Rome by his father, encouraged by Bishop Ioan Alexi. He studied at the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, obtaining a doctorate in theology in 1863 and being ordained priest later that year. He returned to Transylvania and in 1864 was first named dean of students and later professor of church history and canon law at the seminary in Gherla. After Gherla Bishop Ioan Vancea was elected Metropolitan of Făgăraş and Alba Iulia, he took Mihali with him to Blaj as his secretary. In 1869-1870, Mihali accompanied Vancea to the First Vatican Council.

Ioan Vancea was an Austro-Hungarian ethnic Romanian bishop of the Greek-Catholic Church. Born to noble parents in Văşad, Bihor County, he was ordained a priest in 1845 following studies in Oradea and Vienna. After the death of Ioan Alexi, he was consecrated Bishop of Gherla in 1865. Three years later, following the death of Alexandru Sterca-Șuluțiu, he was elected Archbishop of Făgăraş and Alba Iulia, enthroned at Blaj in 1869. He advocated the rights of Romanians in Transylvania and contested the authorities' policy of Magyarization. Vancea died in office in 1892.


  1. "Romanian Church" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  2. "" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  3. Ronald Roberson. "The Eastern Catholic Churches 2016" (PDF). Catholic Near East Welfare Association. Retrieved 29 November 2016.Cite web requires |website= (help) Information sourced from Annuario Pontificio 2012 edition
  4. 2011 Romanian census official data.
  5. International Religious Freedom Report 2005 United States Department of State
  6. The Harper Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism (New York: Harper Collins, 1995) 1132.
  7. "Major dates from the history of the Transylvanian Unitarian Church" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.Cite web requires |website= (help)
  8. Harper-Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 1132; James Niessen, "The Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation in Transylvania," in John-Paul Himka, James T. Flynn, James Niessen, eds. Religious Compromise, Political Salvation: the Greek Catholic Church and Nation-building in Eastern Europe (Pittsburgh: Carl Beck Papers, 1993). (ordered via USMAI); received Wednesday, March 11, 2009): 49–51
  9. Harper-Collins Encyclopedia of Catholicism, 1132; Niessen, "The Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation", 59–60
  10. "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2012-03-20. Retrieved 2012-03-20.Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help); Cite web requires |website= (help)CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  11. Niessen, "the Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation," 60.
  12. Niessen, "The Greek Catholic Church and the Romanian Nation," 60
  13. "The Romanian Greek-Catholic Community is facing a cultural and religious wipe-out – letter to US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton" . Retrieved 10 January 2017.Cite web requires |website= (help)

Coordinates: 46°10′25″N23°55′15″E / 46.1735°N 23.9208°E / 46.1735; 23.9208