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Abstract

In November 2010, Romanian legislator Liviu Campanu, representing the governing coalition, proposed Daniel Ciobotea as Prime Minister of a cabinet of "national union." The suggestion was surprising because Ciobotea is leader of the Orthodox Church, accounting for 86.8% of the country's population (International Religious Freedom Report, 2009). It would not be the first time when the Orthodox Patriarch assumed such a political role - Miron Cristea headed the government from 1938 to 1939. While Ciobotea quietly ignored it, the proposal reflected not only deep dissatisfaction with the government, but also the respect the Orthodox Church enjoys among Romanians. The Church remains the most trusted institution in a country where religiosity registers high levels (Dumitru, 2008; Norris & lnglehart, 2004). Taking this proposal as a starting point, this article surveys the way in which the Orthodox Church has shaped Romania's democratization during the last 20 years. It will first briefly present the Church's position during communist times, and then discuss its involvement in public affairs by looking at its impact on elections, public education, and the legalization of homosexual behavior. Then, the article presents four divergent models of church-state relations that have been put forward since 1990 by the dominant Orthodox Church, the religious minorities, the Romanian political elite, and some humanistic (read: atheistic) civil society groups. Our contention is that, from 1989, the year marking the collapse of the communist regime, until his death in 2007, the Orthodox Patriarch Teoctist pursued an established church model that sought legal privileges and state recognition for his Church. Since 2007, under Patriarch Daniel, the Church has opted for a partnership with the state in the promotion of social welfare.

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