Metropolis of Bessarabia

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This article is about one of the Orthodox churches in Moldova. For other uses, see Moldovan Orthodox Church (disambiguation).
Metropolis of Bessarabia
Metropolis of bessarabia.svg
Organization of the Metropolis of Bessarabia
Territory  Moldova
Headquarters Chișinău
- Total

Denomination Eastern Orthodox
Sui iuris church Romanian Patriarchate (Autonomous Metropolis)
Established 1918
Language Romanian
Current leadership
Bishop Petru (Păduraru)
Administrative map of the Romanian Orthodox Church, including the Metropolis of Bessarabia

The Metropolis of Bessarabia (Romanian: Mitropolia Basarabiei), also referred to as the Bessarabian Orthodox Church,[1] is a Moldovan autonomous Eastern Orthodox Metropolitan bishopric of the Romanian Orthodox Church. The Metropolis of Bessarabia was created in 1918, as the Archbishopric of Chișinău, and organized as a Metropolis, in 1927.[2] Inactive during the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia (1940-1941) and the Soviet rule in Moldova (1944-1991), it was re-activated on 14 September 1992. In 1995, the Metropolis of Bessarabia was raised to the rank of exarchate, with jurisdiction over the territory of Moldova.[3] The current Metropolitan of Bessarabia is Petru (Păduraru).[4]


The Metropolis of Bessarabia was founded after the annexation of Bessarabia by the Russian Empire in 1812, from the churches and monasteries of the Metropolis of Moldavia on that territory that no longer belonged to the Principality of Moldavia, by Gavril Bănulescu-Bodoni, a popular promoter of Moldavian/Romanian language and culture, who served also as its first Metropolitan. In 1918, Metropolitan Anastasius Gribanovsky was ousted after he refused to accede to Romania's demand to secede from the Russian Orthodox Church and subordinate to the Romanian one. With the advent of Greater Romania in 1918, there were three church bodies: the autocephalous Romanian Orthodox Church (on the territory of Smaller Romania—prior to 1918—formed in 1872 from the union of the former Metropolis of Ungrovlahia and Metropolis of Moldavia), and the non-autocephalous Metropolis of Bessarabia and Metropolis of Transylvania. Therefore, in 1925, the rank of the Romanian Orthodox Church was raised to that of a Patriarchate, with the Metropolis of Bessarabia as one of its five sees. Gurie Grosu was the first Metropolitan of Bessarabia, and Efrem Enăchescu the second.

After the Soviet occupation of Bessarabia in 1940, the church, which then was a non-autonomous Metropolis, was banned, and its property has either changed uses, or was transferred to the Russian Orthodox Church, which established the Bishopric in Chişinău and Moldova. In 1980s, two more bishoprics were added, and the See raised to the status of a Metropolis. After Moldova's independence in 1991, part of the clergy followed Petru Păduraru, the Bishop of Bălţi, and re-established the Metropolis of Bessarabia. The Russian Orthodox Church refused to recognize the authority of the Bessarabian church, and two metropolia started an uneasy co-existence. During the 1990s, the one subordinated to the Russian Orthodox Church, called the Moldovan Orthodox Church, gained the protection of the country's authorities and established itself as the official church, while the Orthodox Church of Bessarabia was refused registration according to the country's new law of religions.

In 2004, after years of legal hurdles and a final decision by the European Court of Human Rights, the Orthodox Church of Bessarabia received official registration, the Supreme Court of Justice of the Republic of Moldova recognizing it as "the spiritual, canonical, historical successor of the Metropolitan See of Bessarabia which functioned till 1944, including".[5] About 20% of country's Orthodox churches were or changed to be under its jurisdictions; a strong desire to similar moves has been expressed in many other parishes.[citation needed] This is a major area of tension with the Moldovan Orthodox Church.

The position of the Romanian Orthodox Church in the dispute with the Russian Orthodox Church over the territorial jurisdiction is, according to a press release, that the two Metropolitan Sees should "peacefully co-exist and brotherly cooperate (…) harmonising, with wisdom and realism, the territorial principle with the ethnic principle, as agreed in the pastoral service of the Orthodox in Diaspora."[5]

Structure and organization[edit]

The church is currently recognized only by some other Orthodox Churches, since the Patriarchate of Moscow opposes its recognition by all of them.[6] The current Metropolitan of Bessarabia is Petru Păduraru (born 24 October 1946 in Ţiganca, elected as metropolitan in 1992), and it has about one third of the orthodox community in Moldova.[7]

The Metropolis of Bessarabia consists of four eparchies:

See also[edit]



External links[edit]