The Controversies of a Dramatic Biography. Bartolomeu Anania’s Mission to America in the Context of the Recalibration of State-Church Relations under Ceaușescu

Author DRAGOS URSU, Post-Doctoral Researcher 1 Decembrie 1918 University of Alba Iulia; Historian, National Museum of Union, Alba Iulia, Romania

The study aims to address a sensitive issue in the history of the Romanian Orthodox Church during the Communist period, namely its relations with Orthodox communities in the West, in the context of the recalibration of relations between the State and the Church under Nicolae Ceaușescu. The pretext for this analysis is Bartholomew Anania’s 11 years of activity in America within the Orthodox diocese canonically dependent on the Romanian Patriarchate. Bartolomeu Anania, a cleric with an anti-Communist political past, spent six years in Communist prisons. Only a year after his release in 1965, he was sent to America, a fact that was likely to arouse suspicion in the eyes of his contemporaries, since such a departure was not possible without the consent of the regime in general and the political police in particular. In addition to the favourable political context, in which the Ceaușescu regime was opening up to the West in an attempt to move away from the tutelage of Moscow, Bartolomeu Anania’s departure was made possible by the common interest of the state, who wanted to create instruments of Romanian knowledge and influence in the West, and the Church, who wanted to strengthen the canonical structures dependent on the Romanian Patriarchate.

American Orthodoxy, Cultural collaboration, Valerian Trifa, Anti-Communist exile

[1] Valeriu Anania, Memorii [Memoirs] (Iasi: Polirom, 2008)

[2] Archives of the National Council for the Study of the Security Archives (hereafter ANCSSA), Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 1, 1A, 2, 2A, 3, 4.

[3] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 160103, vol. 1-6.

[4] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 5468, vol. 1-2; Foreign Intelligence Service, file no. 2601.

[5] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1015, vol. 1-3.

[6] ANCSSA, Network fund, file no. 452481, vol. 1-2.

[7] National Archives of Romania (hereafter NAR), fund Ministerul Cultelor și Artelor (hereafter MCA), file no. 24/1965, 30/1966, 33/1966, 77/1966, 383/1966, 20/1967, 98/1968, 51/1970;

[8] Archives of New Europe College (hereafter ANEC), fund Andre Scrima, file „Corespondență români din perioada Antimului și Exil”, letters 72-81.

[9] Vasile Gârdan, Episcopia Misionară Română din America – parte a Ortodoxiei americane [Romanian Missionary Diocese in America - part of American Orthodoxy] (Cluj-Napoca: Presa Universitară Clujeană, 2007).

[10] Lucian Turcescu, “Fascists, Communists, Bishops and Spies: Romania Orthodox during the Cold War,” in North American Churches and the Cold War, ed. Paul Mojzes (Michigan: William B. Eermans Publishing Company, 2018).

[11] Gârdan, Episcopia Misionară, 313.

[12] NAR, fund MCA, file no. 30/1966, 13-29.

[13] Ibid., 18.

[14] Ibid., 19.

[15] Ibid.

[16] Florin Răzvan Mihai, „Relațiile internaționale ale României (1945-1989)” [Romania's international relations (1945-1989)], in Panorama Comunismului in România [Panorama of Communism in Romania], ed. Liliana Corobca (București: Polirom, 2021), 925.

[17] Ibid., 944.

[18] Anania, Memorii, 336-625.

[19] Ibid., 338.

[20] Anania recalls a ‘courtesy’ visit to Dumitru Dogaru Just before he left for America. Dogaru, after showing him four denunciations, claimed that Anania would ‘defect’ to America, and said to him at the end of the conversation: ‘We have given you, our trust. From now on, everything depends on you. You are called to America; they want to elect you bishop; you will want to become a bishop there, fine; you will not want to, fine; you will get along with the people there, you will stay with them; you will not get along, you can come back, a piece of bread will always be found for you. Have a good trip!’ (Anania, Memorii, 345)

[21] Ibid., Memorii, 343.

[22] Ibid., 339.

[23] Anania, Memorii, 339.

[24] Ibid., 344.

[25] Ibid., 604.

[26] Ibid., 367-371.

[27] Ibid., 356.

[28] Ibid., 435.

[29] Ibid., 360, 366.

[30] Bartolomeu Anania’s activity in the Aiud re-education was discussed at length in the paper: Dragoș Ursu, „Bartolomeu Anania și reeducarea de la Aiud. Noi contribuții documentare: dosarele Securității” [Bartolomeu Anania and the re-education at Aiud. New documentary contributions: the Securitate files], Altarul Reîntregirii, no. 1 (2020): 151-176.

[31] Anania, Memorii, 39.

[32] In the context of the new wave of repression unleashed after the 1956 revolution in Hungary, the regime put Colonel Gheorghe Crăciun in charge of Aiud prison. It set up the Aiud Operative Group, a security unit directly subordinate to Alexandru Drăghici, Minister of Internal Affairs, whose objective was to ‘re-educate the legionaries’, i.e. to restructure the political and human resources of prisoners convicted of legionary activity, so that, in the event of their release, they would not resume ideological activism. The process lasted from 1959 to 1964, and the regime invested heavily in bureaucracy, propaganda, technology and human resources to ensure its success. First, the Operative Group targeted Legionary leaders (commanders, former ministers, founders), whom they subjected to constant psycho-ideological pressure, with the aim of disassociating them from the Legionary organisation and unmasking their own political activity as well as that of other established Legionary personalities. The regime expected only a ‘formal disassociation’ from the political past of the ‘ordinary’ (non-Legionary) prisoners and their inclusion in the new political order.

[33] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 1, 1.

[34] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 375778, vol. 5, 98-106.

[35] ANCSSA, Documentary fund, file no. 13485, vol. 15, 226.

[36] Dragoș Ursu, „Strategii de supraviețuire culturală. Activitatea publicistică a foștilor deținuți politici in ziarul Glasul Patriei, intre propagandă și colaboraționism” [Cultural survival strategies. The publishing activity of former political prisoners in the newspaper Glasul Patriei, between propaganda and collaborationism], in Traversând comunismul: conviețuire, conformism, compromis, Anuarul Institutului de Investigare a Crimelor Comunismului și Memoria Exilului Românesc [Traversing communism: coexistence, conformity, compromise, Yearbook of the Institute for the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism and the Memory of the Romanian Exile], eds. Lucian Vasile et al., vol XI (Iasi: Polirom, 2016)

[37] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 1, 124.

[38] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 1, 126.

[39] Gârdan, Episcopia Misionară, 454-458.

[40] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 1, 139-141.

[41] The officer’s comment: ‘The problems reported by the officer in the note are known to our bodies’. ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 1, 140.

[42] Ibid.

[43] Anania, Memorii, 339.

[44] ANCSSA, Network Fund, file no. 452481, vol. 1, 60.

[45] NAR, fund MCA, file no. 30/1966, 2.

[46] Ibid., f 3-12.

[47] NAR, fund MCA, file no. 383/1966, 95-124.

[48] Ibid., 187.

[49] NAR, fund MCA, file no. 20/1967, passim.

[50] “O mare sărbătoare a ortodoxiei românești” [A great feast of Romanian Orthodoxy], Credința XVII, no. 9 (September 1967): 1.

[51] “Vatra”, Credința XVI, no. 3 (March 1967): 1.

[52] “Mitropolia Rusă și Patriarhia Moscovei restabilesc comuniunea sacramentală” [Russian Metropolitanate and Moscow Patriarchate restore sacramental communion], Credința XX, no. 5 (May 1970): 1-6.

[53] NAR, fund MCA, file no. 30/1966, 7.

[54] NAR, fund MCA, file no. 383/1966, 31.

[55] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 2, 244.

[56] Ibid., 210.

[57] Anania, Memorii, 614.

[58] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 2, 244 verso.

[59] ‘The Romanian Orthodox Missionary Archdiocese in America is, and remains an autonomous diocese. The archdiocese conducts itself according to its own statutes and regulations, without any outside interference, maintaining canonical, dogmatic and spiritual ties with the Holy Synod of the Romanian Orthodox Church’. Credința, XXV, no. 2 (February 1975): 1.

[60] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 2, 198.

[61] Anania, Memorii, 613.

[62] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 2, 198.

[63] Ibid.

[64] “Răspunsuri românești la provocări maghiare” [Romanian responses to Hungarian challenges], Credința XXVI, no. 6 (June 1976):  4.

[65] “Convorbiri intre delegația B.O.R. și arhiepiscopul Victorin” [Talks between the B.O.R. delegation and Archbishop Victorin], Credința XXVI, no. 6 (June 1976): 1-2.

[66] Ibid., 2.

[67] “Generația Cluj ‘46”, Credința XXVI, no. 6 (June 1976):  1.

[68] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 2, 209.

[69] Ibid., 211.

[70] Ibid., 223-224.

[71] ANCSSA, Informative Fund, file no. 1450, vol. 3, passim.

[72] NAR, fund Ministerul Cultelor și Artelor, file no. 383/1966, 54.

[73] Țara și Exilul, no. 9-10 (July - August 1967): 26.

[74] Andrei Scrima (1925-2000), monk, member of the ‘Burning Bush’, colleague of Anania at the Holy Synod Library in the 1950s, went on a scholarship to India in 1956, remaining in the diaspora until 1990, where he distinguished himself as a leading theologian of the ecumenical dialogue (being the personal representative of the Ecumenical Patriarch Athenagoras at the Second Vatican Council)

[75] ANEC, fund Andre Scrima, file no. ‘Corespondență români din perioada Antimului și Exil’, letter 76.

[76] Ion Mihai Pacepa, Orizonturi roșii [Red Horizons] (București: Humanitas, 2023).

[77] Ibid., 326.

[78] Ibid.

[79] Grigore Caraza, Aiud insângerat [Bloody Aiud] (Iasi: TipoMoldova, 2013), 144-152.

[80] Paul Goma, Scrieri (1972-1998) [Writings (1972-1998] (București: Nemira, 1999), 456-457.

[81] Turcescu, Fascists, 352.