Re-weaving Memory: Representations of the Interwar and Communist Periods in the Romanian Orthodox Church after 1989

Iuliana Conovici

Abstract


After the fall of Communism, the Romanian Orthodox Church was forced to face its recent past, scarred by its collaboration harshly criticized in the early 1990s with the Ceausescu regime. The Church s turn to its memory of the interwar period in order to legitimize the (re)casting of Orthodoxy as a public religion was also problematic. Based mainly, but not solely on the analysis of public discourses originating with the Orthodox Church hierarchy and clergy, this paper will address the discursive strategies the Orthodox Church adopted in order to tame the memory of its recent past. We propose to investigate the main issues at stake, and the consequences of the choices the Church makes in re-weaving the memory of its recent past(s). It will be shown that the memorial reconstitution of the two periods remains unbalanced. On the one hand, the Church has used to its advantage some parts of the memory of each period. Yet in both cases, efforts to obscure potentially problematic facets of memory, such as the choice of collaboration/accommodation with the communist regime or the close connexion between prominent Church personages and the Legionary movement remain eminently counter-productive. However, such proceeds fail to exorcise the remaining skeletons in the closet and bar the path to the appeasement of memory.


Keywords


Romanian Orthodox Church, communism, interwar period, travail de memoire, persecution, survival strategy, national Church, Legionary Movement, truth commissions, historiography.

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