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Principal religions and denominations

The situation of the Orthodox Church

The majority religion in Romania is Orthodox. According to the 2011 census of the National Institute of Statistics 16,3077,004 (81.04% of the population) people belong to the Orthodox Church. A (...)

The majority religion in Romania is Orthodox. According to the 2011 census of the National Institute of Statistics 16,3077,004 (81.04% of the population) people belong to the Orthodox Church. A large proportion of the total members of the Orthodox Church (15,730,426) are Romanian, which, without denying the importance of national belonging, contributes to affirming that the element of religious identity, in Romania’s case, is closely related to the ethnic element.
According to history, Christianity began being preached to the inhabitants of present-day Dobroudja (in the south east of Romania, on the Black Sea), as of the second half of the first century by the Apostle Andrew himself. He began to have more and more followers especially after the Edict of Tolerance of Milan in 313. Thus, Romanians are among the most ancient of Christian people and the only Latin people to belong to the Orthodox Church.
Until the 17th century the religious service was celebrated in Slavic, which was considered a sacred language. In 1885, Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople recognised the autocephaly of the Romanian Orthodox Church. In 1925 it was raised to the ranks of Patriarchate and Miron Cristea became the first Patriarch of the Romanian Orthodox Church.
Since 2007, His Beatitude Daniel Ciobotea is the sixth patriarch of the Orthodox Church in Romania.
The Romanian Orthodox Church is very prestigious in Romanian society, on a symbolic spiritual and cultural level and as the guardian of values identified with the Romanian people.
The Orthodox Church of Romania is predominant in all cities and villages of the country, except in the three counties of Transylvania (Covasna, Harghita and Mures) where the majority of the population is Hungarian.
The successive results of the Public Opinion Metre from January 2014 to April 2015 show that the Romanian Orthodox Church is the most trusted of institutions.
The Romanian Orthodox Church is also the institution that is best represented in the Romanian diaspora. There are even two Metropolitan Romanian Orthodox churches in Europe, in Nuremberg, Germany (metropolitan Seraphin) and in Paris, France (metropolitan Josef). Internationally, the Romanian Orthodox Church is the ranked second among Orthodox Churches in the world, after the Russian Orthodox Church, in terms of number of followers.

D 13 August 2015    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe APetrisor Ghidu

Other religions

Other Churches are present in Romania, though their number of members makes them less important than the Romanian Orthodox Church. The other Churches that are present are: the Roman Catholic (...)

Other Churches are present in Romania, though their number of members makes them less important than the Romanian Orthodox Church. The other Churches that are present are: the Roman Catholic Church (4.3%, 870,774 members), the Reformed Church (3%, 600,932 members), the Church of God (Apostolic Pentecostal) (1.8%, 362, 314 members), the Greek-Catholic Church (0.75%, 150, 593 members).

Added to these, in decreasing order according to number of members, the Baptist Church (0.56%, 112,850 members), the Seventh-Day Adventist Church (0.4%, 80,944 members), Muslims (0.3%, 64, 337 members), the Unitarian Church (0.3%, 57,686 members), Jehovah’s Witnesses (0.25% with 49,820 members), Evangelical Christians (0.2% with 42,495 members), the Romanian Evangelical Church (0.16% with 32,558 members). There is also the old rite Orthodox Church (0.1%), Protestants of the Augsburg Creed (0.03%), Jews (0.02%) and the Armenian Church and its 393 members (N.I.S. census 2011). People "without religion" and atheists in each category represent 0.1% of the population while in 6.2% of questionnaires, the information on religious affiliation was not available.

The Greek-Catholic Church (150,481 members, 0.75% of the population), which is dependant on the Vatican, played an important role in the history of the Romanian people, along with the Romanian Orthodox Church, particularly in Transylvania. Thanks to its ties with Rome, it was able encourage the use of the Latin alphabet and the Romanian language during religious services towards the beginning of the 19th century. It was suppressed during the communist regime and regained its rights after the Revolution of December 1989. Currently, it is headed by the Cardinal Lucian Muresan.

The Roman Catholic Church has a large number of members who belong to the Hungarian ethnic group, but its members also include Romanians, Germans and other nationalities. The Catholic Church in Romania is coordinated by a conference of Catholic Bishops whose president is Metropolitan Ioan Robu, Archbishop of Bucharest.

The Reformed Church, the Unitarian Church, the Lutheran Church and the Evangelical Church are the churches of the Hungarian (the first three) and German minorities. Other churches belonging to national minorities are the Old Rite Christian Church (the Russians “Lipovans”, people of Russian origin that live in the north of Dobroudja and in the Delta of the Danube), the Armenian Church, Islam and Judaism.

D 13 August 2015    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe APetrisor Ghidu

Recent developments

The evangelical or neo-Protestant denominations (Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists and Evangelical Christians) are becoming more and more present in Romanian religious life.
People (...)

The evangelical or neo-Protestant denominations (Baptists, Pentecostals, Seventh-Day Adventists and Evangelical Christians) are becoming more and more present in Romanian religious life.

People belonging to small religious groups have the opportunity of either practicing individually or within the religious associations founded on the Law on juridical entities (art. 40, Act on religious freedom and general regime of religious denominations). The same is true for the Old Rite Orthodox, the Bahaï, the Mormons and so on. These religious denominations did not have the right to legal existence during the communist dictatorship.

In 2003, by Order of the Minister of Culture and Religions, the Jehovah’s Witnesses obtained the right to be registered as an officially recognised religion in Romania. All of the religions mentioned above, and their followers, have the same rights and freedoms in Romania as the majority religion, the Romanian Orthodox Church.
New religious movements have reached Romania, especially since 1990, when the new political conditions permitted the free manifestation of religious opinions. For the time being, their numbers are relatively low and their demonstration remains marginal. Even so, the population has shown some interest in these new forms of religiosity. This interest can be explained in particular by the great wave of religious enthusiasm that was expressed in 1989 after 45 years of dictatorship.

Among these religious movements, there are Evangelical Christian-like movements: “The Family”, Mormons, Jehovah’s Witnesses, the Church of Christ, different Pentecostal groups, but also orient-inspired movements including Zen, Sahaja Yoga, Haré Krishna, Bahaï, Ananda Marga and so forth. The mystic esoteric syncretistic movements also occupy a part of the religious landscape in Romania; they include New Age, Scientology, New Acropolis, the Gurdjieff-Ouspensky Centre, the Grail Movement and Anthroposophy.

For further information see: "The religious situation in Romania" by Olivier Gillet.

D 13 August 2015    ALaurenţiu Tănase AManuela Gheorghe APetrisor Ghidu

Centralised analysis of places of worship

On 22 March 2016, the State Secretariat for Religious Affairs made public a document presenting the situation of buildings intended for religious use in Romania (Religious Buildings, 2015*, in (...)

On 22 March 2016, the State Secretariat for Religious Affairs made public a document presenting the situation of buildings intended for religious use in Romania (Religious Buildings, 2015*, in Romanian). The document refers to religious buildings in use before 1989, buildings built and finalised after the fall of Communism, and buildings still under construction.

According to the document published, out of a total of 27,384 places of worship, 8,413 were buildings built and finalised after 1989. 1,578 religious buildings are still under construction. Out of the totality of religious buildings: 59.9% belong to the Orthodox, 10.7% to the Pentecostals, 6% to the Catholics, 5.7% to the Baptists, 5% to the Reformed, 4.6% to the Seventh Day Adventists, etc.

New statistics on places of worship and religious associations in Romania

The State Secretariat for Religious Affairs (Secretariatul de Stat pentru Culte - SSC) recently published statistics on the number of places of worship belonging to the 18 recognised religious denominations in Romania, as well as a list of the 30 religious associations that operate according to the Law 489/2006 on religious freedom and the general regime on religions.

According to data published on the SSC’s official website, reflecting the situation as at 31 December 2015, the 18 religions recognised in Romania have 27,384 places of worship. As expected, the largest number of places of worship belongs to the majority denomination, the Romanian Orthodox Church, which uses 16,403 places of worship. However, although the Romanian Orthodox Church calls attention to its press agency’s official website, with a comparative analysis of the latest data and results census (2011), some unexpected items can be seen:

- the Romanian Orthodox Church, whose believers account for 86.45% of the total population, uses only 59.9% of places of worship;
- the percentage of places of worship used by each faith, except the Romanian Orthodox Church, is higher than the percentage of followers in each denomination recognised in the total population of Romania.

The other document issued by the SSC refers to religious associations, the activity of which is located in Romania. The detailed list of the 30 religious associations comes along with short explanations regarding the legal measures to be taken in order to be considered a religious association, as well as the rights and responsibilities resulting from this.

*See French version: Centralised analysis of places of worship, 2015.

D 26 September 2017    AGabriel Birsan APetrisor Ghidu

CNRS Unistra Dres Gsrl

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