A Romanian Orthodox bishop has admitted that he did not fulfil his obligations as a bishop under Communist rule, and failed to protect his priests. Metropolitan Nicolae Corneanu of Timisoara told the Italian Catholic magazine Il Regno that he could have acted differently, "but at that time I thought that for the good of the Church I had to make compromises with the regime".
    The Tablet reports that Metropolitan Nicolae, who became a bishop in 1962, said he felt disgusted with what he did. "For example", he said, "many priests and bishops were imprisoned when I was bishop. Some of my priests protested against the dictatorship and were persecuted. I did not protect them." He said that he had also gone along with a government order that nuns had to be at least 50 years old, and monks 65: he did not protest when the government authorities sent the younger religious away from their monasteries.
    He also apologised for his treatment of the Eastern-rite Catholic Bishop Ioan Ploscaru of Lugoj. When Bishop Ploscaru went to celebrate the funeral of a priest who lived with him, the director of the cemetery, which the Government had placed under Orthodox administration, turned him away, and Metropolitan Nicolae did not countermand the order. But in 1992 the metropolitan returned Lugoj Cathedral to Bishop Ploscaru, together with a donation to repair the church and buy vestments and liturgical vessels. "I felt I must free myself of this burden and ask pardon", he said.
    Metropolitan Nicolae told Il Regno that he supported Eastern-rite Catholic claims to church property seized by the Government in 1948 and given to the Orthodox. More than half the churches returned to the Catholics in Romania in the past nine years have been those formerly used by Orthodox in the metropolitan's diocese.

10:06am 3/5/99 / The Tablet


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