Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Romanian Orthodox Patriarch Dies

The head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Teoctist, died on Monday aged 92, after a heart attack following surgery on his prostate gland, the Church said on Monday.

Teoctist became Patriarch in 1986 during the era of Romania’s communist dictator, Nicolae Ceaucescu.

On account of his controversial relations with the communist authorities, he was forced briefly to step down after the revolution in December 1989.

In April 1990, he was reinstated as head of the Romanian Orthodox Church, however.

In recent years, many accusations were made against him in the press, including the claim that he was a collaborator with the former political police, the Securitate.

An ecumenical figure in the wider Christian community, Patriarch Teoctist was the first Orthodox Church leader to invite a Pope to visit an Orthodox country since the churches split in 1054.

As a result, Pope John Paul II visited Romania in 1999. Almost 90 per cent of Romanians belong to the Orthodox Church.

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