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Religion and Secularism in the European Union

State of Affairs and Current Debates


Edited By Jan Nelis, Caroline Sägesser and Jean-Philippe Schreiber

The present volume monitors new developments concerning religious issues, faith-based organizations, State-Church relations and secularism in the EU, which especially during the past two decades have undergone profound changes, changes which continuously and increasingly alter mentalities and habits, whether belief-related or not. In this collective work, authors develop the major themes that are relevant to their country of expertise, while a final chapter is devoted to the role of the European Courts (ECHR and EU). The different chapters show that in recent years, religion, once thought to be of minor importance in a highly secular society, has made quite a vigorous political comeback. Thus Europe seems to have reached a crucial point in its history, a moment in which future tendencies in the field of religion and secularism are being defined, and negotiated. There is little doubt that the outcome of this process will influence the continent’s future outlook, as well as its role and relevance in an increasingly globalized world.

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Romania. Exploring the Bond between Church, State, and Nation (Olivier Gillet)


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Exploring the Bond between Church, State, and Nation

Olivier GILLET

Université libre de Bruxelles

A country of 20 million Latin-language speaking inhabitants, Romania is situated on the crossroads of different political, religious and cultural influences. In the Moldavian and the Walachia principalities, the role of the Byzantine, the Ottoman, and the Russian Empires was essential. As for Transylvania, it was influenced by Vienna, Budapest and Rome. Unavoidably, this historic heritage is closely related to the Romanian religious situation.

In ancient Moldavian and Walachia principalities, the dominant Church (87%) is the Orthodox. In Transylvania, different denominations share the believers with Orthodoxy: Roman Catholicism (5%), Greek-Catholicism (Uniatism) (1%) and Protestantism, or more precisely Calvinism (3%), Unitarianism (anti-Trinitarians) (0.3%) and Lutheranism (0.5%). Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, Unitarianism, and Lutheranism followers are mainly among the Hungarian community. Lutheranism is also the denomination of the German minority, the Transylvanian Saxons. The Jewish community (0.03%) experienced a real diminution since WWII. As for Islam (0.25%), it represents an important religious component in Dobrogea, in South-East Romania, between the lower Danube River and the Black Sea. The collaboration of the ecclesiastic hierarchy with communist authorities, primarily of the Orthodox Church, incited multiple controversies after 1989. Today the renaissance of religion is understood mainly on political and cultural grounds, and is essentially dominated by the national question.

14 different denominations were recognised by the communist state, namely Roman Catholicism, Calvinism, Lutheranism, Unitarianism,...

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