Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Leading Romanian Orthodox bishop accused of being Securitate collaborator

The Associated Press Published: October 9, 2007

BUCHAREST, Romania: Bishop Pimen, an elderly Orthodox cleric who was once vocal in demanding the return of church lands confiscated by the communists was also a collaborator of the feared Securitate secret police, the council publishing the Securitate files said Tuesday.

Pimen declined to comment on Tuesday's verdict, wishing reporters "good health."

Pimen is Archbishop for Suceava and Radauti and considered one of the luminaries of the church. He has hosted Romania's former King Michael and Britain's Prince Charles at the famous painted monasteries in northeast Romania.

The verdict came from the Council for Study of the Securitate Archives, which is also examining the Securitate files of other senior Orthodox clergy.

In September the council ruled that Andrei Andreicut, a Romanian Orthodox bishop for Alba, was a Securitate informant ordered to infiltrate groups of Eastern Rite Catholics. He said he was forced to become an informant.

Pimen is one of seven other senior Orthodox clergy who allegedly collaborated with the Securitate, some of whom were sent abroad on spying missions under communism, according to the council.

Pimen was an outspoken critic of Romania's former leftist government, which ran the country until 2004, until it promised to return lands confiscated by the communists. The bishop later called former Prime Minister Adrian Nastase "one of the great protectors of the monasteries" after the order to return lands was passed. Another court overruled the return of the lands.

Costel Stoica, a spokesman for the Romanian Orthodox Church, defended Pimen. saying: "For the church it is important how the church carried out its activity in a very hostile time under the Communist regime. It is one thing to have given into pressures of the former Securitate to save a community and another thing to have done this for personal gain," he said.

Pimen was allegedly sent abroad both by the Church and the Securitate and informed on fellow clergy and members of Romania's expat community, NewsIn news agency reported.

The church, which has gained popularity and influence since communism ended in 1989, has been opposed to opening the files of its senior clergy.

During communism, thousands of priests were imprisoned or sent to labor camps, alongside tens of thousands of other political prisoners. Many signed pledges promising to be Securitate informants when they were released.



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