Moldovan Orthodox Church
The Moldovan Orthodox Church (Romanian: Biserica Ortodoxă din Moldova; Russian: Правосла́вная це́рковь Молдо́вы) or Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova (Romanian: Mitropolia Chișinăului și a întregii Moldove; Russian: Кишинёвско-Молда́вская митропо́лия) is an autonomous church under the Russian Orthodox Church. Its canonical territory is the Republic of Moldova.
The Church of Moldova is the largest church in Moldova, with all Orthodox Christians in the country belonging either to the Moldovan Orthodox Church, or to the Metropolis of Bessarabia, a metropolitanate of the Romanian Orthodox Church. In the 2005 census in Moldova 3,158,015 people or 95.5% of those declaring a religion claimed to be Eastern Orthodox Christians.
It is believed that Orthodox Christianity was first brought to Romania and Moldova by the Apostle Andrew. Be that as it may, by the 1300s the Orthodox Church in Moldavia—today northeastern Romania, Moldova, and southwestern Ukraine—was under the authority of the Metropolitan of Galicia in modern-day western Ukraine. In 1391, however, the Patriarchate of Constantinople, which had jurisdiction over the region, elected a metropolitan for Moldavia specifically (Metropolis of Moldavia). By the 1400s this metropolitan was elected by the autocephalous Church of Ohrid, but following the abolition of the latter it returned to the jurisdiction of the Church of Constantinople. During this time, in the 1600s, the churches in Moldavia transitioned from using Slavonic to Romanian.
In 1812, the eastern half of Moldavia (renamed Bessarabia)—roughly corresponding to the Republic of Moldova and the Ukrainian district of Budjak—was annexed by the Russian Empire, which placed the Orthodox Church in this territory under the jurisdiction of the Russian Orthodox Church, which in 1813 established the Eparchy of Kishinev (Chișinău) and Hotin under Metropolitan Gavril (Bănulescu-Bodoni) to care for the region's Orthodox Christians. Orthodoxy in Bessarabia remained under the Russian Orthodox Church until the region's union with Romania in 1918, at which point the Eparchy of Kishinev, dependent on the Moscow Patriarchate, ceased its activity, while the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church set up the Archdiocese of Chișinău.
In 1922, the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church set up two more dioceses in Bessarabia—the Diocese of Hotin, seated in Bălţi, and the Diocese of the Cetatea Albă, seated in Ismail—and, in 1927, the Orthodox Church in Bessarabia was raised to the rank of the Metropolis of Bessarabia.
Following the Molotov–Ribbentrop Pact, the Soviet Union annexed Bessarabia and proclaimed Moldavian SSR. The Metropolis of Bessarabia was forced to interrupt its activity. In the same period of time, the Moscow Patriarchate of the Russian Orthodox Church established on the territory of the new soviet republic a new Diocese of Kishinev. In 1990, the Orthodox Church was raised to the rank of the Archdiocese.
A year after the independence from the USSR as the Republic of Moldova in 1991, the Russian Orthodox Church granted autonomy to the Orthodox Church in the new country, as the Moldovan Orthodox Church, and raised the rank of the Archdiocese to the Metropolis of Chișinău and All Moldova.
Structure and organization
The Moldovan Orthodox Church claims exclusive jurisdiction over the Orthodox Church in Moldova, although this is contested by the Romanian Orthodox Church and its Metropolis of Bessarabia. The Church of Moldova currently consists of five eparchies or dioceses: Bălți and Făleşti under Bishop Marcellus (Mihaescu), Cahul and Comrat under Bishop Anatolius (Botnari), Chișinău under Metropolitan Vladimir (Canterean), Edineț and Briceni under Bishop Nicodemus (Vulpe), Tiraspol and Dubăsari under Archbishop Sabbas (Volkov), and Ungheni and Nisporeni under Bishop Peter (Musteata). As of 2010 the Church of Moldova had 1,231 parishes, 46 monasteries, 9 sketes, a theological academy, and two theological seminaries served by 6 hierarchs, 1,395 priests, and 107 deacons.
Since the grant of autonomy to the Moldovan Orthodox Church by the Moscow Patriarchate the Church has administered its local affairs through a local synod chaired by its primate, the Metropolitan of Chisinau and All Moldova, and consisting of the primate and the Church's eparchial or diocesan bishops.
Relations with the Metropolis of Bessarabia
In the lead-up to the independence of Moldova, the Romanian Orthodox Church reactivated the interwar Metropolis of Bessarabia, granted it autonomy, and gave it authority over the Republic of Moldova and areas in southwestern Ukraine with Romanian populations. The Metropolis was started in 1992 by the Moldovan Orthodox Bishop of Bălți, Petru (Păduraru). In 2006, the Supreme Court of Justice of Moldova recognised the Autonomous Metropolis of Bessarabia, as "historical, canonical and spiritual successor of the Metropolis of Bessarabia which functioned until 1944 including".
The Metropolis of Bessarabia had 84 parishes in Moldova at the time of its organization, and is considered a schismatic organization by the Moldovan Orthodox Church and its mother, the Russian Orthodox Church. On the other hand, the Romanian Orthodox Church is in favour of a "peaceful coexistence and brotherly cooperation between the two Orthodox Metropolis depending on the two sister Orthodox Patriarchies".
- The Position of the Romanian Patriarchate concerning the Reactivation of the Three Dioceses in the Metropolitanate of Bessarabia
- Contextul istoric at mitropoliabasarabiei.ro (Romanian)
- Istoric at mitropolia.md (Romanian)