- Apr 16, 2021
Romanian authorities announced Thursday that Easter celebrations in the deeply Christian country will go ahead in person this year, even though Romania is battling a surge of COVID-19 infections that is threatening to overwhelm its hospitals.
The feast of St. Dimitrie of Basarabov, the patron saint of Bucharest, is a show of Orthodox Christianity’s strength in Romania, where a weeklong festival devoted to the former hermit typically draws up to 100,000 people from all over the country to the capital every October.
On Sunday Romania marked its first ever National Day of Awareness of Violence against Christians, a move intended to honor Romanian Orthodox martyrs and raise awareness about global anti-Christian persecution.
Stretching the church calendar, Orthodox Easter arrived over a month late in a Romanian city on the shores of the Black Sea.
Although Catholics in most East European countries have backed measures to control the COVID-19 pandemic, for some it has also revived painful memories of communist rule. Sensitivities over church closures have also surfaced in Western Europe, where some Catholics have questioned the right of civil authorities to prohibit religious worship.
Pope Francis told Jesuits in Romania that tensions and struggles within the Church have left it wounded and that the only path forward is through humble dialogue, not futile arguments.
People need to walk together in harmony to build a more fraternal world, Pope Francis said, reflecting upon his recent trip to Romania.