Teoctist Arăpașu (b. Feburary 7 1915, Tocileni, d. July 30 2007, Bucharest)
We are presented with the image of a man well over 85, with small eyes, curved nose, prominent nostrils, arched eyebrows and long chin. He is dressed in clerical clothing.
The texture made up of small and dense X’s represents the thick sideburns and the beard.
The texture comprised of scattered points depicts the kamelaykion (an item of clerical clothing worn by Orthodox Priests).
On the chest, there’s a cross-shaped medallion depicted by a filled in and embossed circle, tied by a chain rendered by a wavy thick line.
Teoctist Arăpașu, Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church between 1986 and 2007, was born on February 7 1915 in the village of Tocileni, commune Stăuceni, Botoșani County.
After graduating primary school, in 1927, he”became a brother at Vorona Monastery” and later on at Neamț Monastery.
Monk from 1935 under the name of Teoctist and deacon from 1937, he graduated the Seminary from Cernica Monastery and afterwards the Theology School at the University of Bucharest [Bibliography 1].
According to Gabriel Catalan, before 1940, he was a member of Frățiile de Cruce. From that position he participated at legionary meetings and helped store propaganda materials at the Cernica and Căldărușani Monasteries [Bibliography 2].
At the same time, some articles which appeared in the press at the beginning of the 2000s [Bibliography 3] mention his involvement in the devastation of a synagogue from Bucharest, as well as his presence at the legionary rebellion of January 1941, during which 416 people died [Bibliography 4].
After 1948, he held many high positions within the Romanian Orthodox Church among which we can name the following: bishop-vicar of the Metropolitan Church of Moldavia and Bukovina (1948-1950), bishop-vicar of the Romanian Patriarchy (1950), rector of the Theological Institute of Bucharest (1950-1954), Bishop of Arad (1962-1973), Archbishop of Oltenia (1973), Archbishop of Moldavia (1977) and Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church (1986-2007) [Bibliography 5].
While holding those positions within the hierarchy of the Orthodox Church he was also a member of the Romanian Communist Party (PCR) starting from 1945 and was elected deputy in the Great National Assembly (Marea Adunare Națională) and was also a member of the Social Unity and Democracy Front and of the National Peace Committee [Bibliography 6].
Lavinia Stan and Lucian Turcescu mention that his election as patriarch, in 1986, was, in part, due to the support he received from patriarch Iustinian Marina, during his career. Teoctist collaborated with Iustinian on multiple occasions. According to them, after the election of Moisescu as patriarch in 1977, Iustinian Marina’s supporters managed to get Teoctist the position of Archbishop of Moldavia. At the same time, Romanian-born American historians highlight that some of the factors that contributed to his appointment as patriarch were his inclination towards compromise and the obedience of communist authorities [Bibliography 7].
”He was seen, before 1986 as well as after, as a supporter of Ceaușescu’s anti-religion politics” [Bibliography 8].
His biography contains many other episodes which were analysed by researchers who were studying the history of the Romanian Orthodox Church during the communist era. One such episode talks about how Teoctist involved himself in the efforts to convince Greco-catholic priests to convert to orthodoxy [Bibliography 9] and his resignation as patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church on January 18 1990 invoking ”health issues”. However, his resignation was probably determined by him realizing he was seen as being close to the communist party and the regime altogether. This is supported by the fact that on December 17 1989 he sent a letter to Ceaușescu showing his support [Bibliography 10]. In the end he changed his mind and withdrew his resignation.
Patriarch Teoctist died in 2007 and was succeeded as patriarch by Daniel.
1-2. Gabriel Catalan, Scurtă biografie a lui Teoctist (Toader) Arăpașu, available online at https://gabrielcatalan.wordpress.com/2012/03/16/scurta-biografie-a-lui-teoctist-toader-arapasu/ august 2018].
- Adrian Cioflâncă, Patriarhul Teoctist a participat la rebeliunea legionară din 1941, available online at https://www.ziaruldeiasi.ro/national-extern/patriarhul-teoctist-a-participat-la-rebeliunea-legionara-din-1941~ni1nqg[august 2018].
- Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, Religion and Politics in Post-Communist Romania, Oxford University Press, 2007, p. 71-72.
- Lucian Leuștean, Orthodoxy and the Cold War. Religion and Political Power, 1947-1965, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009, p. 199, Gabriel Catalan, art. cit..
- Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, op. cit., p. 24, Gabriel Catalan, art. cit.
7-8. Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, op. cit, pp. 68-69.
9-10. Gabriel Catalan, art. cit.
- Lavinia Stan, Lucian Turcescu, op. cit., pp. 69-70.