“Do onto Yourself”: Leading the Church in the 1970s Romania through Self-Policing and Self-Censorship

In: East Central Europe
Anca ȘincanHistory Department, “Gheorghe Șincai” Institute for Social Sciences and Humanities, Romanian Academy, Târgu-Mureș, Romania,

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The paper discusses several responses to the secret police’s (non-)involvement in religious matters that posed direct or indirect problems for the regime. The secret police’s attitude of allowing communities leeway in dealing with problematic situations had several motivations: to create a culture of self-policing and self-censorship that would defer the punishment to the hierarchical chain of the religious community; so that the community internalized the state requirements; and to infiltrate the community with collaborators in positions of power. Self-punishing and self-censorship were the ways in which communities respected the regulations imposed by the state. The literature on the subject in Romania is scarce and comes mostly from primary texts (memoir, journals, and various histories of religious communities). The article presents a case study of the Sibiu Orthodox Metropolitan See in its interactions with the secret police.

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