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The Romanian Orthodox Church is autocephalous, but in full communion with other Eastern Orthodox Christian Churches. Its jurisdiction covers the territories of Romania and Moldova, with other dioceses for Romanians living in Serbia, Hungary, Central and Western Europe, Oceania, and North America. The Romanian Orthodox Church is the second largest of the Eastern Orthodox Churches, behind the Russian Orthodox Church. The land that is now Romania was once the Roman province of Dacia, and Romanians are thought to be the descendants of the veterans of Trajan. Tradition is that the apostle, Saint Andrew, preached in the land that lay between the Danube River and the Black Sea, later called Dobrudgea, and also known as Scythia. The primary evangelist active in the area during the time of the Early Church was Saint Nicetas of Remesiana. A See was established at Tomi (Constanta) by the 4th century. Although the early history of Dacia is uncertain, it is believed that Christianity may have been brought in by converted soldiers, colonists, and their slaves, who came to Dacia from Rome, as well as by Christian prisoners who were brought into the area by the Goths in the 3rd century. In the 9th century, the Bulgarians successfully invaded Romania, bringing Romanian Christianity within the ecclesiastical control of Constantinople. It is likely that it was during this time that the Church acquired an Eastern character. Prior to that time, the Romanian Church’s liturgy had been held in Latin. During the Protestant Reformation, the influence of Calvinism was strong among Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox Christians, but the advances of Protestantism were brought to a halt by the end of the 16th century when the Austrians drove out the Turks in 1687, and Roman Catholic Jesuits arrived to reinforce anti-Calvinist efforts. However, during the post-Reformation settlement in Transylvania, the Romanian Church was not granted any recognition. In 1698, a portion of the Romanian Orthodox clergy and lay people accepted papal jurisdiction and became Byzantine Rite Catholics. The Romanian Orthodox Church declared itself to be autocephalous in 1856, and was recognized by the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople in 1885. The Patriarchate of Romania was established in 1925, and the Church’s primate was elevated to the rank of Patriarch. Under communism, the Romanian Orthodox Church seems to have flourished, although the Romanian Byzantine Rite Catholics were persecuted or made to worship in Orthodox churches. The Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church is known as His Beatitude. The highest hierarchical, canonical, and dogmatic authority of the Church is the Holy Synod. There are six Orthodox Metropolitanates and ten Archbishoprics in Romania, and thousands of priests, deacons, and servant fathers serving in parishes, monasteries, and social centers. As a canonical Eastern Orthodox autocephalous church, the Roman Orthodox Church maintains a respectful spiritual link to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople. The official presence of the Church in North America began in 1929 when the Romanian Orthodox Church created a diocese and elected a bishop, who settled in Grass Lake, Michigan. Prior to that time, there were only two parishes in all of North America: one in Regina, Saskatchewan, and another in Cleveland, Ohio. Bishop Polycarp Morusca, the original bishop established in Michigan, returned to Romania at the onset of World War II, and was forcibly retired by the Romanian authorities. He was replaced by Bishop Andrei Moldovan, who had been a parish priest in Akron, Ohio, and was consecrated as bishop without having first been elected by the American congregation. When he returned to the United States, forty-eight Romanian Orthodox parishes rejected him, and separated from the Romanian Orthodox Church. Those who remained within his episcopal jurisdiction became known as the Romanian Orthodox Missionary Episcopate in the United States, Canada, and South America, otherwise known as the Romanian Orthodox Church of America, while the group that left were brought under the protection of the Russian Orthodox Greek Catholic Church in America, which is now known as the Orthodox Church in America.

 

 

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