The Romanian Church United With Rome (Greek-Catholic) Under Pressure: The ROC's Bad Behavior as Good Politics

Journal for the Study of Religions and Ideologies 11 (32):227-255 (2012)
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Abstract

The study discusses the paradox of the failure of the Romanian Church United with Rome, Greek-Catholic (RCUR) to assert itself after 1990, in the context of a revival of the life of all other religious communities. The significant decrease in the number of Greek-Catholic believers and the difficulties in exercising their rights are germane to the limits of democracy in Romania. No other vulnerable communities, neither immigrants, gays, Roma,nor Jehovah's Witnesses, have been denied, all this time, the protection of the Romanian state, as Greek-Catholics have been. The systematic denial of the rights of the Romanian Church United with Rome (Greek-Catholic) is explained by the feature which distinguishes RCUR faithful from the members of other vulnerable communities: their organisation is perceived by the Romanian Orthodox Church (ROC) as an adversary. The Romanian Orthodox Church constantly proclaimed the illegitimacy of the RCUR in the first half of the twentieth century, and participated in its dissolution when the opportunity arose in 1948. It holds today the same explicit goal. The societal circumstances, specific to anarchic democracy, allow a major player like the ROC to impose its policy of undermining the RCUR. In accordance with Bruce Bueno de Mesquita and Alastair Smith's concept, the material and symbolic competition between the RCUR and the ROC is interpreted as an example of "bad behavior as good politics". The ROC strategy finds an optimal framework for maximizing gain in the circumstances of the Romanian anarchic democracy

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