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"Aspecte ale păstoririi mitropolitului Ioan Meţianu (1899-1916) reflectate în lucră-rile sinoadelor arhidiecezane de la Sibiu"

The Activity of Metropolitan Ioan Meţianu (1899-1916) as Reflected in the Works of Archdiocesan Synods in Sibiu

Autor(i): Paul BRUSANOWSKI

The Organic Law (Statutul Organic) intended to reconcile two apparently contradictory principles: the separation of powers and the hierarchical principle. Given the position of bishops within the Church, it stipulated their right to preside over legislative, executive and judicial bodies in the respective eparchies. However, in order to maintain an actual separation of powers, it also stipulated that this presidency should be merely honorary. Of course, in the case of legislative bodies, this honorary presidency could not have negative effects, since Synods and Congresses always reached their goal – namely, to reflect the will of the representatives of the eparchy/metropolitanate. The situation of executive bodies, however, was different. As bodies whose role was to propose legislative projects and enact the synod and congress decisions, the Consistories needed a highly effective structure and management, which the Organic Law did not allow. The bishop – as honorary president of the Consistory, had to collaborate with assessors imposed by the legislative body (only the Church Senate constituted an exception, as the hierarch was entitled to reject the persons proposed). These provisions also entailed discontentment and conflicts. Archbishop and metropolitan Miron Romanul found himself in difficult circumstances during his 25-year tenure. He was imposed on the Sibiu dwellers by the suffragans headed by Vincenţiu Babeş, and consequently he faced constant opposition, led by Nicolae Popea. As it held the majority in the Synod, Popea’s party also held the majority in the archdiocesan Consistory. Therefore, although the hierarch was Miron Romanul, actual church government was held by the opposition. It was only in the years 1888-89, that Partenie Cosma, a relative of the metropolitan, succeeded in establishing a Mironist party. And in 1889, Popea left the Archdiocese, as the metropolitan supported his promotion to the rank of bishop of Caransebeş. Until then, however, for more than a decade, metropolitan Miron often failed to attend Synod and Consistory meetings, because the situation was beyond his control. Metropolitan Ioan Meţianu was utterly different from Miron Romanul. He presented his program aiming to revive church life, during the first Archdiocesan Synod, in his President’s address of 1899. The new metropolitan pointed out to synodal delegates that it was necessary that all church bodies do their duty out of their own awareness, not only at the request of their superiors; he deemed it necessary that everyone should have increased responsibility at their workplace, so that all church servants and clerks should operate like the „members of a body”, in full agreement. Metropolitan Meţianu started to apply this program as early as 1899, by revising the internal church legislation. All these regulations, proposed by the Consistory headed by Meţianu and voted by the Archdiocesan Synod, created the necessary framework for the Church to carry out its spiritual and cultural mission, efficiently and smoothly. However, the metropolitan was not satisfied with the results, considering that the institutions established did not suffice for this mission, which also requested the collaboration of all the faithful and the fostering of religious sense, in a time when „on every occasion we witness a multitude of sick trends”. From the beginning of his tenure, Meţianu ensured the minimum income for the clergy (congrua) and the levying of the annual church fee paid by every Orthodox family within the Archdiocese of Sibiu (sidoxia). Established by Joseph II upon restoring the Orthodox diocese in Transylvania, this tax was charged until late 19th century by state fiscal bodies, despite the fact that Romanian Orthodoxy was a recept, autonomous religion within the Hungarian state. It was only in the final years of 19th century, that Hungarian government refused to collect this tax, leaving this task to church authorities. As they were unprepared for it, metropolitan Meţianu had to resort to Hungarian police, and later he added to it the cultural fee, intended for the development of the denominational education system. Regarding the congrua, metropolitan Meţianu rejected the proposal put forth by the synod members in Sibiu, who would not accept an increase in clergy income granted by the State Budget. On the contrary, he sent to Budapest the future first patriarch of Romania, Elie Miron Cristea in order to collaborate with the Ministry of Finance to calculate the incomes of parishes and increase the salaries. Another objective, that of providing an income for retired priests, was achieved due to the capital already deposited with the Pension Fund. Since until that year, priests had not contributed regularly to this fund, he proposed to the Synod to vote the Statute of the Archdiocesan Pension Fund. Compared to his predecessor, Meţianu was certainly harsher. Many accused him of absolutist tendencies. Indeed, he strengthened the importance of individuals, namely the parish priest (who became the president of the Parish Committee, by § 5 of Parish Regulations, voted in 1906 and modified in 1909), and archpriest (who received the power to enforce penalties instead of the protopresbyterial see, by §6 of the Regulation for judicial procedure in disciplinary cases in the Romanian Greek Orthododox Metropolitanate in Hungary and Transylvania ). As a hierarch, he always observed the constitutional principles, however with a tendency to exceed their bounds. The church government by Miron Romanul and Ioan Meţianu epitomize two different manners of applying church constitutional rules. The twenty-five years of Miron’s tenure established the tradition of church constitutionalism, exerting mutual control to hold corruption tendencies in check; with regard to discipline, however, it also instituted dry formalism and anarchy, while from the spiritual standpoint it was marked by lethargy, as demonstrates the fact that under Miron no liturgical books were printed. In his turn, metropolitan Meţianu was harsher and was remembered as an abusive hierarch. However, he brought order to church administration, while observing constitutional bounds, enabling it to fulfill its role – to ensure the spiritual progress of the faithful.

Pagini: 127-152